5 Places To Plunge Into 2019

New Year’s Day brings many traditions, resolutions, new taxes and for many a Polar Bear swim or Penguin Plunge into frigid waters to kick the New Year into motion. Whether you take the plunge on your own or at an organized event, enjoy the start of your 2019.

Here’s a few of the local Polar Bear swims taking place around Metro Vancouver:

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim – English Bay Beach 2:30 – 3:30pm : dress up, donate to the Greater Vancouver Food Banks and dive into the waters of English Bay for the 99th year.

North Shore Penguin Plunge – Panorama Park, Deep Cove 12:30 – 3pm : live music, food, and refreshments, proceeds support the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 2.

Delta Polar Bear Swim – Boundary Bay Regional Park 12-1pm : start 2019 off with the 39th annual plunge into the chilly waters of Boundary Bay.

Port Moody Penguin Plunge – Rocky Point Park Boat Launch 11:30 – 1pm : a fundraiser for the Pleasantside Community Association registration $5/person or $10/family

White Rock Polar Bear Swimdue to the recent storm damage to White Rock pier, this annual event is cancelled for this year. 

A Beach Near You – any time, any place with a shoreline can become a spot for a polar bear swim; take a solo plunge to find your 2019 zen or gather your friends for a group penguin plunge.

Whatever way or wherever you spend your New Year’s Day, I hope it heralds a healthy, happy and successful 2019!





Hit the water with Cultus Lake Marina

Hot summer days beg for a trip to the shore, Vancouver is lucky to have Cultus Lake, a hub of water recreation just a up the highway.  At just under 90 minutes from downtown Vancouver to Cultus Lake Marina, it’s a quick getaway, but the aquatic oasis feels like a world away.  

Whether your overnighting at one of the campgrounds and cottages, or just taking a day-trip with friends, Cultus Lake is a hive of activities.  The famed Waterpark bring tons of friends and families to play on the waterslides and other rides but the lake itself is nature’s water park. The compact 6 sq km lake punches above its size for what it has to offer.

Tubing on Cultus Lake

Beaches for swimming, shores for picnics and family gatherings, calm coves for fishing or stand-up paddle-boarding, and open water for jetskiing, boating, waterskiing and more.

The hub of most of these activities, is the Cultus Lake Marina; rent jetskis, wake boards, tubes, or like our gang, one of the many boats that the Marina has to offer.

11 Passenger Four Winns Funship

One of the 7,8,9 or 11 passenger Four Winns powerboats are ready to tow waterskis and tubes or just leisurely enjoy the waters. Groups of 13 can hit the water in the Marina’s Pontoon Boat, perfect for a party on the water. A boat license is not required to rent a boat from Cultus Lake Marina but the drivers (max 2) are required to watch a 10 minute safety video, inspect with the boat with the marina staff and take responsibility for the operation and condition of the boat.   Once all the checks are done and all passengers have their personal floatation device fitted it’s time to sit back and enjoy the open water.
Cruising around Cultus Lake is a great way to surround yourself in nature, the evergreen slopes and granite cliffs rising from the lakeside, only interrupted by the tiny villages of Cultus Lake and Lindell Beach book-ending the ends of water.

Whenever you’re looking for a getaway from the city, pack up the car, hit the road and enjoy everything Cultus Lake has to offer.

Jetskis & Boats await at Cultus Lake Marina

Cultus Lake Marina is located at #50 Sunnyside Blvd, Cultus Lake, BC.
(about 90 minutes from downtown Vancouver or 10 minutes from Chilliwack)
Visit cultuslakemarina.com for pricing and more information
Call 604-858-9990 or email rentals@cultuslakemarina.com to book your boat, jetskis or other watercraft.
Follow @cultuslakemarina on instagram to get inspired for your own day on the water.

Middle Beach Lodge, a Tofino getaway

To wrap up the end of summer, we made a road trip to the wild West Coast of Vancouver Island, for a stay at Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino, BC.
Turning off of Hwy 4 on to the rugged MacKenzie Beach Road is a bit of a shock for the first few hundred metres but the smooth access to Middle Beach Lodge foretells what lies ahead.  Lush, verdant forest surrounds you as the warren of cabins and cottages dot the road to the Main Lodge at the Headlands.
Greeted by a row of bright yellow rain slickers, the Lodge holds the check-in desk, and the great room where daily complimentary breakfast and dinners on select nights are served, at other times guests can mingle, read or play board games at the tables or the oversized Chesterfield sofas in front of a roaring fire.  Out on the veranda, nature is out every aspect, with views across Templar Channel to Wickaninnish Island and the open waters rolling onto MacKenzie Beach.   Middle Beach Lodge has a wide variety of accommodation, from rooms in the Main Lodge at the Headlands, the Lodge at the Beach, (another lodge overlooking Middle Beach itself), or duplex and triplex cottages, many with kitchens and kitchenettes.  Couples, families and more can easily find comfortable rooms, and the style of your getaway is what you make of it.  Some rooms have comfortable sitting rooms,and private outdoor sitting areas facing the ocean or forest, or join other guests in the lodge to socialize and make new friends.

Exploring the 40 acre site, guests find a network of viewpoints, roads, trails leading to MacKenzie or Middle Beach.  Low and high tide offer different beach side adventures, Wickaninnish Island provides shelter for Middle Beach, while the vast MacKenzie Beach offers more variety for shore and water sports.  South on Hwy 4, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve opens a whole realm of wild, natural beach and rainforest adventures.
Being one of the closest resorts to the Village of Tofino, Middle Beach Lodge makes accessing the village a quick 5 minute drive, where guests can experience the culinary gems, like The Wolf in The Fog, Shelter, Tacofino, or Sea Monster Noodles.  Book excursions and activities to complete the West Coast experience; stand-up paddleboarding, whale watching, kayaking, hiking,  excursions to Hot Springs Cove and much more.
Whatever type of getaway you’re looking for Middle Beach Lodge makes an ideal spot to base your adventures.

Hotel Calipolis – Sitges, Spain

On our recent vacation to the UK, we took a few days out to get some sun in Sitges, Spain, a quaint beachfront town on the Costa Barcelona.
Renowned for it’s 17 beaches, for our first visit we wanted to stay on the beachfront and selected Hotel Calipolis, and we’re pleased we did.

Hotel Calipolis; Sitges, Spain

Located centrally along the Passeig Maritim, Hotel Calipolis is a spacious, modern hotel, with plenty of amenities to make any stay more than comfortable.  Even though you won’t be spending a lot of time in them, the bright rooms, mostly with water views, are large and comfortable. The big balconies connect guests with the fresh air, retractable screens filter the beaming Mediterranean sun to allow the windows to be open all hours.

From the sumptuous breakfast buffet in the Mirador Restaurant, full of fresh local flavours and breakfast staples to the sunny, pool-side Terrace Bar the Hotel’s five restaurants, bars and lounges keep guests satiated throughout the day.  Passeig Maritim is filled with restaurants so there’s plenty of dining and drinking options nearby when you want to venture away from Hotel Calipolis.

The Hotel’s many meeting rooms were busy during our stay, businesses taking advantage of the quieter shoulder season to have conferences and meetings away from the big cities.  The small but well equipped fitness centre lets you get a workout before meetings or hitting the beach, across the street.  If, like during our stay, the wind picks up at the beach, move to the sheltered but sun-filled pool deck to work on your tan.

The Hotel’s location, 15 minutes walk from the train station, allowed us to easily explore the town’s central streets and the beautiful beach promenade.  Being about 30 minutes by train from Barcelona-El Prat Airport, and 40 minutes from the heart of Barcelona city centre, makes a visit to the City easy too.  We look forward to making another, and longer, visit to Sitges and Hotel Calipolis will be on top of our accommodation options.

Hotel Calipolis is located at the corner of Av Sofia and Passeig Maritim in Sitges, Spain.

Visit hotelcalipolis.com for more information.

Vans Duct Tape Festival is coming to Tofino

The popular West Coast community of Tofino, BC adds another reason to visit the Long Beach community in the lead up the Summer.  On June 10th a unique event, Vans Duct Tape Festival descends upon the popular Cox Bay Beach 

Inspired by the legacy of the Vans Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational longboarding series, Vans partners with the District of Tofino, and Surfrider Foundation to introduce the Duct Tape Festival, a unique, all-inclusive one-day beach celebration honouring innovation, creativity and craftsmanship in surf culture.

Duct Tape Festival debuts with a mission to bring together an international collective of people inspired by surfing, and to celebrate progression and creativity in surf culture by engaging communities that thrive by the sea.

The Vans Duct Tape Festival gathers a distinct community of surfers, artists and shapers to showcase surfing in a truly collaborative environment, encouraging fans and locals to learn about board shaping, share innovative ideas, engage in sustainable living and, best of all, surf!

 For its inaugural event, the Vans Duct Tape Festival welcomes four world renown surfers—Dane Reynolds, Tanner Gudauskas, Alex Knost, and Joel Tudor—to present a library of their own hand-shaped custom surf boards to share with the public. Led by these four influential surf icons, the all-day beach festival will feature educational sessions on board shaping, workshops on sustainability, interactive art and music exhibits hosted by the local community, and will highlight the best of Tofino’s rich landscape and organic living philosophy.

Vans Duct Tape Festival will run from 10 am to 3 pm at Cox Bay, Tofino BC on June 10th.  If you can’t visit in person follow @vanssurf and @vanscanada on Instagram to see pics from the participants.

Harrison Beach Hotel, the Centre of the Village

HarrisonBeachHotel_2016-04-29, 20 02 26In the centre of the Village of Harrison Hot Springs, you’ll find the Harrison Beach Hotel, a perfect getaway.  On a street lined with accommodation,  from the renowned Hot Springs Resort at one end,  to the Bungalow Motel at the other, the Harrison Beach Hotel is a stand-out.

The modern property has a perfect location for accessing all that the Village has to offer, just a minute walk to public Hot Spring Pool, restaurants and shops are all around and the Harrison Lake beach is directly across the street.  Friendly staff greet guests at the front desk and send you on your way to your recently-renovated rooms.

The spacious suites, sleep 2-4 with either open concept, semi-private or private bedrooms.  The large rooms and fully equipped kitchenettes make them great for a longer stay.  I particularly liked the hardwood floors (Junior & Executive Suites), it would be especially helpful in the summer when people come and go from the beach and sand.  Big windows or private, some huge, balconies bring the amazing mountain or lake views front and centre to your suite, you won’t need to turn on your big screen TV.  If you’re lucky to have one of the lower floor suites facing the lake during Harrison Festival, you’ll have a front row view to the music stage across the street.  On our recent stay, we were able to turn on the fireplace, open the patio door and watch the sun go down over the lake and mountains.  HarrisonBeachHotel_2016-04-29, 19 48 18

Amenities in the hotel include indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, fitness centre, guest laundry and computer workstation. Attached to the hotel lobby, Morgan’s Bistro, serves fresh, local fare in an ever changing menu.  We’ve enjoyed every meal we’ve had at Morgan’s.

Harrison Beach Hotel is located at 160 Esplanade Ave, Harrison Hot Springs, BC. (ample parking off Lilloet Ave)
Online at harrisonbeachhotel.com
Phone: 1.866.338.8111


Grotto Spa at Tigh Na Mara

Just steps from Tigh Na Mara Resort, Grotto Spa welcomes guests to a tranquil and relaxing destination amongst the evergreens.
Open to the public as well as resort guests, the rustic spa lodge, nestled in the woods, is surprisingly spacious.  Grotto Spa at Tigh Na Mara offers 20,000 square feet of relaxation offering everything from a few hours to a full day of spa pampering.

On arrival, the friendly staff welcome guests in the large reception / shop, then it’s off for a quick orientation before being awed by the Mineral Pool. The 2500 square foot mineral pool is the centrepiece of the namesake Grotto.  Like exploring a stone cavern the warm mineral pool features a two-story waterfall, a brisk shower waterfall to invigorate the body and a non-mineralized hot tub.  Infused with natural minerals and trace elements that help to detoxify and rejuvenate your body.  Spend some time in the pool, relax in the private pool side or outdoor patios, then repeat the process.  If you need a break, don your plush robe and head upstairs to the Treetops Relaxation Lounge, sit by the fire in while enjoying fruit infused purified water and fresh fruit and vegetables.  The Mineral Pool and Relaxation Lounge are included with any spa treatment or on their own for $40 per person for the day.

Guests pampering themselves with Spa Treatments can also take advantage of the Treetops Tapas & Grill for a unique dining experience.  Reserved for spa guests in their robes, the relaxing rooftop restaurant’s endless tapas can be added to any Spa Treatment for $55.

Grotto Spa at Tigh Na Mara offers everything from facials, manicures and pedicures to full day, full body treatments and everything in between. Overnight accommodation packages or group packages can be arranged to take advantage of everything the Spa and Tigh Na Mara Resort have to offer.

Take a visit to Grotto Spa at Tigh Na Mara and you’ll see why Spas of America voted it #1 Spa in Western Canada.

Grotto Spa is located at 1155 Resort Drive, Parksville BC (just steps across the road from Tigh Na Mara Resort)