Nautical tourism in Vancouver, BC: Canada’s maritime metropolis.
In This Boating Article You Will Discover:
- Moorage Options in Vancouver
- Tips For Visiting Boaters
- Local Dining & Attractions
Granville Island is the heart of Vancouver’s maritime community. Quite literally a stone’s throw from downtown, this former industrial park is now a hub of nautical activity and services — as well as conspicuous tourism — year-round. And for boaters dropping sail and puttering under the Burrard Street Bridge, it represents a welcome respite; an accessible full-service provisioning station and tourist hub within British Columbia’s largest city.
An obvious no-wake zone from the entrance at English Bay, sailors slipping into False Creek during summer are wise to navigate with assertiveness. Water Taxis, kayakers and fellow yachtsmen clog this already-tight seafaring cul-de-sac. (Once moored, it can be just as difficult to navigate the stuffed-to-the-gills aisles of the Granville Island Public Market, but at least the stakes are lower.)
Navigating the maddening crowds is worth it; the City of Glass simply sparkles in the summertime. If you are looking for a lively urban port — Vancouver is hard to beat. And it is a simple task to slip in, sample the best of the city, provision then disembark for quieter waters all within day or two stay.
Once moored in False Creek, there’s no need to venture far from your slip. The Granville Island Public Market is your go-to to re-stock your galley. Fresh produce overflows the aisles and Longliner Seafoods will fill your icebox if the Fish Gods have not been kind thus far. Siegel’s Bagels and Terra Breads are must-visits, if only for Terra Bread’s impossibly delicious brownies and dozen fresh boiled-and-baked bagels from Siegel’s. If you buy bread, stop at Benton Brother’s Cheese and Dussa’s Ham & Cheese to pair it with something stinky and something salty. You’re a five-minute walk from the nearest Starbucks at this point, but do as true Vancouverites do and grab a Java from JJ Bean, located in the market. (I’m sure you splurge on fine grinds for your cruise, but I’m guessing you left the cappuccino machine at home.)
Granville Island is home to several specialty shops the likes of which belong to a different time. The Granville Island Broom Company is Vancouver’s only devoted broom store — and it’s more interesting than it sounds. Handcrafted brooms from this boutique operator are said to be symbols of good luck — they sweep away bad fortune and evil (Lord know we boaters are a superstitious bunch anyway…). Near the entrance of the island, The Umbrella Shop sells fine ‘brellas that won’t turn inside out at the first nor’easter. Finally, The Hang Out Place is a specialty hammock store that features their proprietary Chair Hammock, custom built for breezy summer afternoons. Gift shops are too numerous — your stowage space will determine how many you visit.
If you’re looking for the largest selection of marine products, a one-kilometre walk southwest from Granville Island takes you to either Steveston Marine & Hardware or West Marine — Vancouver’s most well-known and largest marine supply stores. However, most boaters’ needs can be serviced on Duranleau Street, located on the Island’s west side. Marine shops and services rim the boardwalk — from rigging supplies right up to major repairs and new boat sales.
There’s really too much shopping to be found — Liberty Wines and the Granville Island Brewing Company will ensure your following nights are merry. Red Sky Clothing & Footwear can replace your threadbare jacket or fit you with new Tevas. A short jaunt south on Granville Street, to West 8th Avenue, finds a Tilley Endurables shop, or for a more eclectic chapeau, try Edie Hats, in the Granville Island’s Net Loft, for everything from handmade Fedoras to floppy sun hats that make sombreros seems modest.
Looming over the Island in an immodest yellow façade, Bridges Restaurant is home to Vancouver’s finest patio. In the warm months, only the seagulls outnumber the people but the sunset view is worth it. If Vancouver’s famous liquid sunshine is spoiling your outdoor dining options — and you’ve stowed a jacket nicer than plaid-flannel — try the Sandbar for some of Vancouver’s best seafood. Iconic Monk McQueen’s, under the Cambie Street Bridge and accessible directly via Water Taxi, is another classic boater-gourmet destination.