What is Whistler?
I always thought Whistler was a ski resort and didn’t have much going for it in the summer.
When I arrived in Vancouver last month however, I was surprised by the number of people who said one of the following to me – ‘make sure you visit Whistler’ or ‘are you going to Whistler?’. And so, when we found ourselves with no accomodation for 8 days, we immediatley booked a trip up to visit this intriguing town – on a quest to find out what all the hype was about.
Whistler, You Didn’t Let Me Down!
I was expecting to turn up to a mountainside of cottages and not much else (silly me!).
Boy was I in for a shock! It was a full-blown town with shops, cafes, restaurants, gyms and hotels.
Beyond the town, there was so much to do! From hiking and biking to gondola rides, swimming in the lakes, ziplining and bungy jumping! There’s defintely something for everyone.
When I first arrived, I was PRETTY anxious about the bears and what to do if I saw one.
Coming from NZ, where there’s no bears (or anything else that can really hurt you), I tend to find myself quite wary when exposed to the possibility of coming across certain animals in a new country.
It turned out that I never had the pleasure of meeting a bear face-to-face. And after speaking to locals about the nature of the bears (which is apparently quite placid), I was actually really keen to see one by the end of our stay.
My Fav Things to do in Whistler (In Summer)
There were so many cool things to do in this quirky town and we didn’t get to them all. But of the things we did try, here’s a list of my definite fav’s:
Green Moustache – The cutest little organic cafe, located in the Whistler Marketplace.
We’d taken a lot of food with us because I simply wasn’t expecting to find many healthy and organic options in Whistler. This little cafe proved me to be very wrong on that assumption. I think we ate there every day – their salads and buddha bowls are just awesome!
Mt Currie Coffee Company – Again, I didn’t have high hopes for the coffee scene in Whistler Village, but was delighted to find I was mistaken on this as well. The Mt Currie Coffee Company has a thriving cafe on Main St in Whistler and their coffee is seriously good.
Biking Round the Lakes – We hired bikes one afternoon and set off to explore. I thought we’d need at least half a day to get around all of the lakes and venture everywhere I wanted to go.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that we managed to get to the Lost Lake, Green Lake, Alta Lake, Nita Lake and right down to the end of Alpha Lake and back to Whistler Village within 2 hours. We weren’t going fast (but we weren’t going slow either) and we stopped for about 20 minutes on a little bench on the edge of Alta Lake too.
The bike tracks are easy to follow and you’re surrounded by forest for most of the ride so it really is a beautiful experience.
Peak to Peak – This is a gondola that runs between the Whistler mountain peak and Blackcomb mountain peak.
We got a gondola from Whistler village to the top of Whistler mountain where we caught the peak-to-peak and then got the chairlift down from Blackcomb mountain to Blackcomb village. You could also do it the opposite way around. The weather was awesome and so the chairlift was a super fun alternative to the gondola, but you’d want to be wrapped up well to do it on a cold day.
The actual peak-to-peak ride was great to get a different perspective of the area, but it’s not for the faint-hearted and I would definitely think twice before doing it if you’re afraid of heights – as you are hanging very high over a valley in a big box filled with about 20 people!
Hiking the Mountain – At the top of Blackcomb mountain, we went for a hike – in our jandals/flip flops, which was not our smartest move! I’d recommend proper shoes on this track for sure.
We were a bit limited for time, as the lifts stop around 5pm at that time of year. Since it was the afternoon, we didn’t want to venture too far, to be sure we’d make it back in time for the last lift down to the village.
But I’ve gotta say, what we managed to do turned out to be a really cool hike. After about 45 minutes of walking, we went and sat on a rock in a clearing (in the picture above), slightly away from the path. We had an amazing view of mountains around us, it was blissfully quiet and felt totally peaceful.
I absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes hiking, forests, quiet time or nature.
Ziptrek – This was my first zipline experience and it was really fun!
You wear a harness which gets hooked up to the zipline and then you jump off and slide down the line. The beauty of doing it at Whistler is that it’s set in the forest and runs back and forth over the river – so you get amazing views the whole time.
The day we left, they opened a new line called the ‘Sasquatch’ which is the longest zipline in Canada and apparently you can get up to speeds of 130km/hr! We didn’t get a chance to try it, but if you like thrills, this could be the one for you!
So that’s my top recommendations for anyone visiting Whistler – make sure you let me know if you give them a go.