Whistler is my husband’s favourite spot in the whole world! It’s definitely up there for me, too. You’ll find Whistler nestled amongst huge mountains in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It’s only a two hour drive from Vancouver and there are lots of cool spots to drop into on the way, making it a fun road trip. The drive is known as the ‘sea to sky highway’ and is very scenic, so stop at some of the lookouts for some beautiful views. The two places we dropped in to were Shannon Falls and Brandywine falls.
Whistler is renowned for being an outdoor lover’s paradise. In winter, its majestic mountains host not one but two of the best ski mountains in the world: Whistler and Blackcomb. In late spring and summer, Whistler becomes a mountain biker’s playground and even hosts the world-famous ultimate mountain bike festival ‘Crankworx’ every August.
I have been lucky enough to visit Whistler three times during the months of January, April and May. Here are my top seven healthy activities to do in Whistler:
1) Go snowboarding or skiing, of course! This is one of the best spots in the world to do it! Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, so it has great facilities and reliable snowfall. The number of runs available is overwhelming! It can take an hour to do a run spanning from the very top all the way to the bottom, which was incredible for me coming from Australia where our longest runs are about ten minutes! My favourite run was ‘Peak to Creek’. It is very long, so I like to sit and have a rest a few times on the way down. With the winter snowfall, it’s really cool how you can literally snowboard from the top of the mountain right down to the village.
2) When the snow melts the active fun doesn’t stop. Try mountain biking! The whistler mountain biking scene has a very ‘hardcore’ vibe to it. Some of the massive obstacles and jumps they have built here would be terrifying for me if I were made to go over them. I was quite intimidated and nervous about riding at Whistler; however, I had a good experience. They have signage which emphasises that on green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) trails, slower riders have right of way. I never had anyone yelling at me or getting frustrated at me for being slow. I would always pull over as soon as the trail was wide enough to let faster riders pass. One of the best things about mountain biking in Whistler is the amazing lift access to the trails. The lifts take you and your bike up the mountain, so you get to just enjoy riding down. If you are an intermediate or experienced mountain biker you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven, but even if you’re a beginner, I would recommend you give it a go. It’s an awesome experience riding in the world’s number one lift-accessed mountain bike park. Here are my tips if you’re a beginner like me:
- Book your bike hire online. You get a decent discount for doing this rather than just paying for it in the rental shop. I hired my bike from Summit Sports and it cost $74 for the day which included a helmet and gloves. In addition, the lift ticket cost $56 for the day, so it’s quite an expensive day out!
- DO NOT WEAR WHITE! You will get covered in mud from head to toe. Even if it hasn’t rained for a few hours, the mud seems to stick around for a long time.
- Wear padded bike pants. I was the only person on the entire mountain in Lorna Jane tights. My bottom was excruciatingly sore by the end of the day. I would have to try standing up the whole time which burned my quads like crazy: even worse than after lunge pulses!
- If possible, I would recommend doing two half days with a few rest days in between, rather than a full day. A full day lasts from 10am – 8pm which is a very long time if you’re doing a form of exercise you’re not accustomed to! I got very sore in my wrists and hands from gripping and braking, and my quads were screaming at me and, like I already mentioned, my derrière pain was out of this world. Of course, no one is forcing you to ride that whole time. I came back to my hotel for a lunch and dinner break. Take it at your own pace, to make sure you make the most of it and get your money’s worth.
- If you’re a total beginner to mountain biking, you can get lessons if you wish.
3) Eat at the local healthy cafes. The first place I visited was The Naked Sprout. This is a live juice and salad bar located in the heart of the village. They offer organic, raw, gluten free, vegan and paleo options!
I also ate at The Green Moustache. This is an organic juice and live food bar. All their food is organic and gluten free and they try to source as much as they can locally which I was very impressed by. I had the Hook smoothie which contained cacao, mint, goji berries, banana, honey and their fresh store-made almond milk.
4) Have a massage. Trust me, after plenty of snowboarding or mountain biking you’ll need it! Massage is a great way to speed up recovery from exercise by breaking up scar tissue and increasing blood flow to your muscles. I went to Aviva Wellness Massage Spa because it was the cheapest ($70 plus tipping) and was well-rated on Trip Advisor. I had a one hour snowboard-specific massage which was basically a full body massage paying special attention to muscle groups like the glutes, back and legs. I found it a very pleasant experience and my masseuse was very professional and friendly.
5) Do a free yoga class. Lululemon runs a free yoga class every Saturday morning at 8am. I really enjoyed it! They provide the mat and there’s no need to book, just rock up ten minutes before class starts.
6) Hike the Valley Trail. This is a 40km paved path which goes to lots of lovely places. One morning, I walked to Lakeside Park which was thirty minutes from the village, set on Alta Lake (one of the five lakes in Whistler Valley).
Another day, I hiked to the Lost Lake Park. It was also an easy thirty minute walk from the village. When I got to the Lake, I had a picnic but didn’t swim as it was way too cold! It was a very beautiful tranquil spot.
After my picnic, I walked the whole way around the lake which took thirty minutes.
7) Hike Joffre Lakes. There are heaps of lakes to explore near Whistler; however, I chose Joffre because it’s known for being one of British Columbia’s most spectacular hikes. You have to drive an hour from Whistler to get to the start of the trail, then it’s an 11km, five hour return hike. The hike takes you past three turquoise lakes, given their incredible colour due to glacier silt. You also have beautiful views of Matier Glacier which is located on the edge of the furtherest of the three lakes. If you see a bear, just back away slowly, don’t run or they might think you’re prey and chase you. (That’s what I was told anyway!)
If you’re planning on heading to Whistler in the future, I hope you love your time in this very special and unique corner of the world!
Happy and healthy travels everyone!
Yours in healthy wanderlust,