West Coast Vs East Coast: Which Is Canada’s Best?
Did you know: Canada boasts the world’s longest coastline? At 243,042 km, it significantly outshines runners-up Indonesia (54,716 km) and Russia (37,653 km). From the frigid waters of Hudson Bay and the Northwestern Passages to the wilds of Haida Gwaii and the Gulf of St. Lawrence–Canada’s coasts have inspired onlookers for millennia.
The east coast of Canada is collectively known as “The Maritimes” and includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Around 5% of Canada’s population call this special place home along with a spectrum of sea life, such as various seals, whales, and otters. The Maritimes are synonymous with shipbuilding and Canadian settlers, and even today Canada relies on the Atlantic as a crucial trade link to Europe. One of the most popular destinations in the Maritimes is Halifax:
As home to the world's second-largest natural harbour, it’s no surprise that Halifax thrives with thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Around half a million people call Halifax home and it’s adored for its maritime history, vibrant culinary scene and friendly locals. One of the top things to do in town is to visit the Citadel National Historic Site. Dominating the skyline since 1749, it’s one of Canada’s most-visited historic sites. You can explore the barracks and guardroom, and even experience life like a mid-19th-century soldier!
While you’re in Halifax, you’ll want a great place to lay your head. The divine Sutton Place Hotel Halifax is where European allure meets unmatched modern luxury. Recuperate in one of 262 stunning guest rooms and suites, and enjoy a plush, king-size bed, spa-inspired bathroom and floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views. Be sure to reserve a table at the onsite Chop Steakhouse & Bar to indulge in the choicest steak experience as well as a variety of fresh seafood.
St Pierre and Miquelon
Another interesting place to visit in the Maritimes is St Pierre and Miquelon just 25km off Newfoundland’s coast. This 242km² archipelago is actually French territory so you may need to take some Euros and an outlet adaptor with you. Also, be sure to switch off data roaming and correctly set your watch, too–St Pierre and Miquelon’s time zone is a quirky 30 minutes ahead of Newfoundland time. Who knew that Europe was so close, after all?!
Image: Flickr/Phillip Grondin
Visit Pioneer’s Island to travel back in time and discover the birthplace of St Pierre and Miquelon. It’s dotted with colourful buildings as well as fishermen's residences and heritage buildings. We’d recommend booking a local guide to maximize your experience.
The Pacific Northwest
When you think of the Pacific Northwest, you’re instantly transported to snow-capped ranges, dense old-growth, and untamed coastlines. It’s synonymous with wildlife such as orcas and black bears, and adventurers from across the globe make the pilgrimage to hike, camp, ski, and canoe in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
As part of your trip, be sure to discover some of the Indigenous cultures and traditions, which are ancestral to the land. Vancouver alone is situated on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, and there are lots of opportunities to learn more about these First Nations.
Located on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen People, the city of Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and home to the Provincial Government. It was founded as a small trading post and fort by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and named after Queen Victoria.
It wasn’t until 1858 that gold was discovered in British Columbia and the population of Victoria boomed as prospectors arrived hoping to strike it rich. Victoria remained the largest city in British Columbia until the completion of the transcontinental railway, at which point Vancouver blossomed. It’s thanks to this storied past that Victoria appeals to so many visitors!
In the city, you’ll find heritage buildings and wharves as well as other remnants of Victoria’s birth and prosperous origins. Explore the David Foster Way, which leads you from Victoria Harbour and the Government buildings along the promenade to Fisherman’s Wharf Park and beyond. Continuing along Dallas Road will deliver you to Beacon Hill Park–a must-see when in Victoria.
We can’t talk about the west coast and not mention Vancouver. As Canada’s third-largest city, it’s a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and adventures. It lies on the Pacific Coast at the foot of the Coast Mountains, which means when conditions are right you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon.
There’s so much to see and do in Vancouver. Whether you’re looking to try one of Vancouver’s Best Restaurants, explore one of our mountainous trails, or ferry hop from landmark to landmark to landmark–there’s no shortage of fun to be had.
While you’re in town, The Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver is the perfect place to call home. Nestled in the heart of the city, it makes exploring on foot a breeze. You’ll find English Bay Beach a 20-minute walk away and the popular Granville Island market is only 25 minutes on foot via the False Creek Ferry. By heading east from the front doors, you’ll arrive at Coal Harbour in less than 15 minutes, which makes it easy to discover the adjacent Gastown neighbourhood.
Image: The Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver
After all of that, you can retire to your luxurious guestroom and enjoy sophisticated onsite amenities such as the Vida Spa, indoor pool and hot tub oasis, and much-loved Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar.
So, Which Is Best?
There are so many reasons to visit both the west coast and the east coast of Canada. Each offers rugged coast and bountiful nature as well as metropolitan culture and world-class dining. The only consideration, which may be a deciding factor for some, is distance. We say: dream big and add both to your travel bucket list!
The images in this post are courtesy of our friends at Destination British Columbia and Tourism Nova Scotia unless otherwise noted.