Ever since I was a child, seaplanes (or floatplanes) never failed to amaze me. There’s just something extraordinary about how they land on and take-off from the water. It wasn’t until I was in my early-20’s that I got to fly in one. I was visiting my best friend in Vancouver and while I was there, I booked a seaplane tour just to experience the flight. Since then, I’ve been on several seaplane tours in Vancouver and I’ve always enjoyed the experience. I especially enjoy the rush of taking off: the sound of the powerful engines thrusting the floats across the surface of the water followed by the gradual climb. It’s a fascinating experience, especially if you’re an aviation geek like me. Furthermore, a seaplane tour is a unique way to appreciate Vancouver’s spectacular surroundings and skyline. Here are some of the seaplane destinations and tours in Vancouver you can book:
Vancouver seaplane destinations
From Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver, seaplanes fly to various points in British Columbia such as Victoria, Nanaimo, Tofino and Comox on Vancouver Island, Whistler (seasonal flights to this town in the Coast Mountains) and Seattle in the United States. To give an example of the cost, the price of a seaplane return trip to Victoria starts at about CAD 300, depending on the season and time of day.
The flights leave from the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre (map) adjacent to the Vancouver Convention Centre. Whenever I visit Vancouver, I always make it a point to walk along the harbourfront to watch the seaplanes.
Vancouver seaplane tours
Victoria, British Columbia
One of my favourite things to do in Vancouver is a day-trip (or longer) to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Situated in the southern corner of Vancouver Island, Victoria (map) is a beautiful city with numerous historic and natural attractions that make it more than worth a visit.
The seaplane takes off from Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, then flies over the iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge and continues across the Strait of Georgia to the scenic Gulf Islands before heading southwards to Victoria.
Some of the best things to do in Victoria include strolling around its historic centre, visiting the nearby Butchard Gardens and going on a whale-watching excursion. Check out this Victoria day trip with Butchart Gardens or this Victoria day trip with whale-watching.
Whistler is one of the largest ski resort towns in North America. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes and glaciers, Whistler is a year-round destination with many activities in both summer and winter. In 2010, Whistler together with Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics. From Vancouver, you can go on a stunning seaplane tour to Whistler. The flight to Whistler boasts incredible views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains with its thick forests and alpine lakes.
Spend the day in Whistler walking around the town, going on a gondola ride (the Peak-to-Peak gondola is spectacular) or participating in one of the adventure activities such as zip-lining, hiking or horseback riding.
Panoramic views of Vancouver
If you’re short on time, I recommend booking a Vancouver panorama flight tour. This 20-minute flight provides passengers with stunning views of the city’s impressive skyline, the massive Stanley Park and the surrounding mountains.
Mountains and glaciers
Another seaplane tour from Vancouver goes inland and offers scenic views of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains . This one-hour seaplane flight flies along the impressive snow-capped peaks of the Coast Mountains with incredible views of Howe Sound, glistening alpine lakes and numerous glaciers.
Read more about Vancouver on Velvet Escape.