This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
My Canadian bucket list is constantly growing. No matter how much I see of the country there always seems to be more hidden within its borders, from mountain peaks that take you above the clouds, to booming waterfalls tucked away in thick rainforests.
Now living back on the East Coast I still have a long list of things I'm itching to do the next time I'm in B.C., that I never got the chance to experience while living out there. How could I not? It's a province that's brimming with adventure, from thrilling hikes to beautiful beaches.
The vast landscapes include mountains, glaciers, rainforests, oceans, islands, and even deserts — all with their own unique set of experiences.
Although I tried my best, it's difficult to see it all in just a couple of years, but there will definitely be many more West Coast visits for me, and here's what's at the top of my list now.
Whether you're planning a trip or a cross-country move, make sure to add these to your bucket list or you'll regret not getting to experience them (trust me!).
I'm not unique in having this special place at the top of my bucket list, but it deserves every bit of praise. I heard about this group of islands when I first moved to B.C., and once you learn about them it's hard not to be drawn there.
Dubbed the 'Galapagos of the North' the region has a lush and diverse nature, with an awe-inspiring range of plants and animals. It's a uniquely beautiful place, made up of over 200 islands with everything from mountains and flourishing forests to stretches of sandy beach, and rocky coastlines.
Spread throughout the islands are communities with local businesses, restaurants, accommodations, and local adventure companies that can take you out to explore the area.
The Haida Nation website has a Haida Gwaii Visitor Orientation that you should do before making the trip, so you can learn about the islands and the Haida Nation. You should also sign the Haida Gwaii Pledge and contribute to the Stewardship Fund. It's recommended that visitors "donate 1% of their total travel costs to support stewardship activities on Haida Gwaii related to tourism," according to the website.
Yoho National Park
Despite living out West for a while, I didn't get to explore much of the Rocky Mountains that make the region famous. This national park is set in the Rockies and every picture I see of it seems more extraordinary than the last.
I could spend weeks just exploring this park I think, visiting all the waterfalls, swimming in the lakes, and hiking up to the rocky peaks of the mountains. It's the classic Western Canadian scenery that you see on postcards, and then some.
The famous Burgess Shale fossils are high up in the mountains here, so you can take a guided hike up and see the amazingly clear and well-preserved lifeforms from five hundred million years ago. They are actually "the oldest evidence of complex life on Earth," the Parks Canada website said, so pretty bucket list-worthy if you ask me.
Of course, the park is also overflowing with natural beauty, from the Takakkaw Falls to Emerald Lake. The wilderness of this park is steeped in dramatic scenery that's waiting to be explored.
Hot Springs Cove
I was lucky enough to visit Tofino a few times while living in B.C., each trip better than the last. The popular surfing town lives up to its reputation, filled with incredible beauty that's made it one of my favourite destinations in the country.
Each time I went I had a visit to Hot Springs Cove on my list, but never actually made it out. Now looking back I definitely regret not figuring out a way to get there, despite the travel involved.
The hot springs are in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, which is about 20 minutes on a seaplane from Tofino or a 1.5-hour long boat ride. You can take one of the local tour companies to get there, but you'll want to set aside a whole day for the adventure probably. From what I've heard though, the trip there is worth it.
Stepping into the park you'll walk through an old-growth forest to the springs, which are made up of seven natural rock pools. You can take your pick of temperatures, since the pools get cooler as they get closer to the ocean, and sit back and enjoy.
I'm still dreaming of the day I can relax in one of these pools far removed from daily life and breathe in the salty air, listening to the steaming waterfall cascading down the rocks, and looking out on the lush nature surrounding it.
The Great Divide Trail
Hiking at least part of this epic 1100-kilometre-long trail that straddles the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and B.C. was actually on my bucket list long before moving out West. Given the challenge of the trail, the amount of planning it takes to do it, and how far I was from it, I do even a section of it.
The temptation of this trail is the untouched wilderness it draws you into. To do the whole thing takes about eight weeks total, and you hike through the remote Canadian landscape. The challenge of this journey just adds to the spectacular and rewarding views around every turn.
You can do sections of the Great Divide Trail to get a taste of the adventure, but even that takes a lot of research. The Great Divide Trail Association website has the information you need to plan a successful trip here.
San Josef Bay
I visited Vancouver Island a lot while living out in B.C. because I just loved it so much. From the city to the pockets of unreal natural beauty scattered all around, it had me coming back again and again.
I never made it out to San Josef Bay though, and am still kicking myself for it.
The fine sand of the beach is surrounded by a rugged wilderness that adds to the incredible beauty of this spot. There are also sea caves along the shoreline that you can explore as you wander up and down the soft sand.
San Josef Bay is within Cape Scott Provincial Park, and it's a 2.5-kilometre hike to reach the sparkling shoreline. The hike isn't that long, but the park is on the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, and about a 7-hour drive from Victoria.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.