Driving the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish from Vancouver, BC Canada
One of the most scenic drives in British Columbia is Highway 99 – also know as the Sea to Sky Highway – that connects Vancouver to Whistler with so many points of interest in between. Half way between the two is the town of Squamish which is known as an outdoor lovers paradise filled with hiking, rock climbing, and world class kite surfing. For our day trip, instead of driving to Whistler, we wanted to focus on the stops on the first half of the Sea to Sky Highway and enjoy Squamish.
Since it was the first full day of our trip, we were able to lean into the jet lag and use the early morning wake up to our advantage, leaving around 630AM. The scenic drive started instantly once we crossed the bridge leaving Vancouver. The trees loomed high above the highway and after heading west to the coast, the Sea-to Sky highway reflected just that – the sky met the sea as we turned north. The highway goes along the Howe Sound where giant mountain peaks meet the Pacific Ocean. As the sun rose, the colors reflected in the scenery brought smiles to our faces.
Our first stop was at Murrin Provincial Park for a short trail up to Quercus Point. The park opens at 7AM and we arrived at 740AM to an empty parking lot. This loop trail is relatively easy and short at 1.8 km round trip. The beginning is a bit of a climb to the top but overall is not difficult at all and full of trees.
We did not pass anyone on the journey to Quercus Point and I have to say, having this view to ourselves was magical.
We enjoyed our granola bar breakfast amazed at this stunning view before heading back down the trail. The parking lot was certainly more full when we reached the car after 40 minutes. This park looks great for campers, rock climbers, and those wanting to chill at the lake.
The next stop on the drive was Shannon Falls Provincial Park which is a short walk from the parking lot. This waterfall is the third highest fall in British Columbia sitting at 335 meters high. The viewing platform is visitor friendly and allows for a great photo of the falls.
We were certainly quite hungry by this point but we were so close to the next hiking trail, it made sense to just fit it in as it was not a very long trail. My impressions of the Stawamus Chief Peaks Trail was certainly different from what it ended up being.
Read about our journey on the Stawamus Chief Peaks Trail here!
We could not have been more excited to visit Squamish – we had heard so many wonderful things about this town and after two hikes already done for the day, we were ready to enjoy all the carbs. As we turned into downtown, we were instantly delighted – this town is adorable! Large diversity of store fronts, streets decorated with tons of flowers, and many people strolling the streets – it really was the perfect downtown.
After finding parking, the first priority was some coffee for Kevin and right in front of our parking spot was Sunflower Bakery and Cafe. The cafe had quite a long line out of it so we decided to see what all the fuss was about. We got a quick peak inside and could see all the donuts – this is what everyone was waiting for. The line moved quick as we ordered two donuts (pistachio and Squamish cream), a bialy (mushroom truffle), and Kevin’s coffee – everything was delicious!
Happy post carb load, we decided to walk around before settling on our next treat. We noted some tents a few blocks away and stumbled upon the Saturday farmer’s market. While it was small, it was mighty and many people were taking advantage of all the products being sold. Beside it was a climbing expo which featured a rock climbing wall and merchants offering their climbing gear.
Two food trucks awaited both areas and we decided to grab a ham, egg and cheese crepe at Folie Crepes. This crepe was amazing – we could not get over how good the crepe batter was and how crispy they got it – highly recommend!
We continued our walking tour on the other side of the town center. Kevin grabbed a coffee from 1914 Coffee Company before we made out final stop downtown. Once recommendation for Adventures of A+K that I had to try was Alice and Brohm for their New Zealand fruit ice cream (which ended up being one of our favorites of the entire trip). We had this in Kaikoura, New Zealand and we loved it then so having it again was such a treat. We ordered the blueberry and the flavor was so rich and intensely infused into the ice cream – oh we just loved it so much and was one of our favorites of the trip.
We had time for one more activity in Squamish and we had two options – the Sea to Sky Gondola seemed to be repetitive since we summited the Stawamus Chief even though it looked really fun so instead we headed to the Estuary Chelem Trail for the Squamish Windsports Society to watch the kite surfers at one of the best spots in the world.
“The Split” where the kite surfing occurs is accessed via an unpaved road so it was a bit of a bumpy drive and gave us some PTSD vibes from our Sardinia days. Luckily the road was not too tricky to navigate and we found a parking spot. As we walked to the end of the Split, someone mentioned to not stick around for too long as the tide was coming in which would wipe out this part of the trail (Bar Harbor vibes). Fortunately for that, we did not have a ton of time anyway so the twenty minutes we had was going to work out anyway.
This was such a treat to watch as we observed how the sport works with the kites and the lead up to flying through the air. I do not think it is very common to see this sport in action so if you have the time to come watch, you should definitely include when visiting Squamish.
The drive back to Vancouver was just as majestic as the drive this morning – the views are just epic in this area. Everything we heard about Squamish lived up to the hype – there is so much to do and the views on the Sea to Sky drive are amazing. When you are visiting Vancouver, you definitely need to add a day trip to Squamish to our trip.