Sea Vancouver makes a splash

Enjoying the wind and sun in English Bay on Sea Vancouver's sightseeing tour. (Julia Pelish/

Guests enjoy the wind and sun while on Sea Vancouver’s sightseeing tour. It is the newest tour in Vancouver, having debuted this spring. (Julia Pelish/

Story and Photos by Julia Pelish Visuals Editor 

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Who knew travelling at 25 knots could be so exhilarating? I found myself laughing and screaming as I blazed around the peninsula of metro Vancouver on an 90-minute Zodiac boat tour with Sea Vancouver that was nothing short of awesome. What’s more, I was surprised to discover things about the city I live in through our guide’s informative stories.

The tour begins in Coal Harbour and starts out to explore Vancouver busy port on Sea Vancouver's sightseeing tour. (Julia Pelish/

The Sea Vancouver tour begins in Coal Harbour, home to busiest port in Canada. Patrons board a Zodiac board for some fast-cruising fun. (Julia Pelish/

Our skipper, Dominic Frei, grew up in Vancouver and took pride in telling us the history of city’s development into one of Canada’s most popular destinations. With a mountain backdrop and ocean setting, Vancouver’s beauty can best be appreciated from the water.

Here we are trying to make friends with the big cruise ship guys docked at Canada Place during Sea Vancouver's sightseeing tour. (Julia Pelish/

The Sea Vancouver Zodiac tries to make friends with the big cruise ship docked at Canada Place. Tough to get their attention, though. (Julia Pelish/

The boat  departs from Coal Harbour travelling into Vancouver’s port, offering a unique ringside view of the bustling activity with sea planes taking off and landing; cruise, ferry and pleasure boats come and go, and cargo ships float at a standstill as they wait to load and unload.

Stanley Park, Siwash rock, Sea vancouver

The tour takes guests around the city, including to the edge of Stanley Park. This is a view of Siwash Rock, a well-known local landmark in the park. (Julia Pelish/

From there we headed out toward English Bay, passing under the Lions Gate Bridge through the Burrard Inlet. It is a perfect way to appreciate the scope and tranquility of this city’s most famous treasure, Stanley Park. As we cruised, we watched people walk, jog, bike and rollerblade along Vancouver’s 22-kilometre (13.5-mile) public seawall.

sea vancouver, zodiac boat tours, granville Island, False Creek,

The Zodiac boat whips across English Bay, passing sail boats and heading for the calm waters of False Creek, where tourists learn about Granville Island and Olympic Village. (Julia Pelish/

English Bay opens up to the Pacific Ocean but our boat ventured deeper into the city rather than away from it. We entered the inlet of False Creek, so named because an early navigator mistook it as a tributary leading to Burrard Inlet on the other side of Vancouver and instead hit a dead end. We passed by the residential west end of the city where the popular Third Beach and Sunset Beaches are dotted with sunbathers. From here we saw Granville Market, the Yaletown area, Olympic Village and Science World, all good for options to explore once you get your land legs back.

We tried to stay clear of Pirate Adventures in False Creek and their menacing looking crew. (Julia Pelish/

The Sea Vancouver Zodiacs had some fun with another tour boat, Pirate Adventures in False Creek, and their menacing-looking crew. (Julia Pelish/

This was the only place where we ran into a little trouble. We encountered a pirate ship packed with a menacing bunch of hooligans (actually a bunch of kids on another tourist cruise). They threatened us with water cannons but thanks to our skipper we escaped unharmed and with a few memorable photos of the hilarious encounter.

sea vancouver, coal harbour

Canada geese fly along the surface of Coal Harbour. They are among the sights on the fantastic 90-minute sea tour of Vancouver. (Julia Pelish/

On a hot summer day the spray from the ocean felt wonderful. I also experienced lots of stomach-tickling bounces by sitting in the front row. The crew will happily adjust the boat’s speed to suit the comfort of the group. As Frei says, “We don’t want people to wish the ride was over but to wish it wouldn’t end.”

For $39 it could probably qualify as one of the most entertaining ways to see Vancouver. Just make sure to wear a windbreaker and hold onto your hat.



Location: The office is located in the lobby of the Westin Bayshore on 1601 Bayshore Drive, in Coal Harbour (see map below).
Tickets: $39 per person for the 90-minute tour.
Contact: Telephone 1-604-633-6413 or email:
Tour Information: Sea Vancouver presently operates three Zodiac boats with departure times at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm. Reservations are recommended. Please check the company’s website for health restrictions and other details regarding the tour. Sea Vancouver Waterfront Sightseeing Adventures began May 1, 2014 and is a sister company of Prince of Whales, a popular whale-watching tour operator that offers cruises in Vancouver and Victoria.

Note: is selecting the 20 Best Tours in Canada. If you have a pick, email and we’ll put it on our consideration list. The guide will be published online in August.



A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is’s Visuals Editor. See her work at

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