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12 Things to KNOW Before Driving the Sea to Sky Highway (2024!)

12 Things to KNOW Before Driving the Sea to Sky Highway (2024!)

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You’re here because you want to know all about the epic Sea to Sky Highway in BC, where you can see, you guessed it… sea-to-sky views and incredible sights with every turn!

The Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) extends from Vancouver to Lillooet, but the most popular section passes through Squamish and Whistler. Once you take this drive – you’ll understand why! Not only is it goregous, but there are so many things to do along this route.

Vancouver to Whistler is only a 120 km (74.6 mile) drive but both places feel worlds apart. As you leave behind the sea and climb into the mountains, you will understand why it’s named the Sea to Sky Highway. Taking in iconic BC sights like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Shannon Falls, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Squamish, we’d go so far as to say that no trip to Canada is complete without driving the Sea to Sky Highway!

Having spent countless summers in BC and driving this bucket-list-worthy stretch of road, I am well-equipped to tell you some fun facts about this drive, the best places to stop at, and some essential driving information to ensure a safe journey. So, let’s dive in – here are 12 things to know about the Sea to Sky Highway!

Don’t have time to read the full article? The Sea to Sky Highway is an incredibly scenic drive, you can either rent a car or join a guided tour to explore the areas. Along your drive, be sure to check out the Sea to Sky Gondola, hike Tunnel Bluffs, see Shannon Falls, and end up in Whistler!

1. About the Sea to Sky Highway

The Sea to Sky Highway as seen from a drone
The Sea to Sky Highway is paradise!

The Sea to Sky Highway, or Highway 99 as it’s also known, is one of North America’s most beautiful stretches of roads. There’s no mystery of why it’s called that – it offers views of the sea and sky all the way along!

The route starts in West Vancouver and travels to Whistler, passing Squamish at about the halfway mark. Highway 99 also extends past Whistler to Pemberton before ending at Lillooet. The most popular section of this highway is the section between the bright lights of Vancouver (possibly the most scenic city in the world) and the renowned ski resort/mountain biking mecca of Whistler, and it’s that part of the Sea to Sky Highway that we’ll focus on in this blog!

This stretch of stunning road is 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) long and would take two hours to drive without stops. Which, by the way, we DON’T recommend! There are just so many amazing places to see along that way that you’ll definitely want to stop and visit.

Many people believe that Highway 99 ends at Whistler, and even though that’s where many tourists choose to end their Sea to Sky Highway road trip, in fact, the highway extends past Whistler by 130 km (80.7 miles) to Lillooet.

To join the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver, drive over the Lions Gate Bridge and follow the signs for Whistler (and Highway 99). The road is called both Highway 99 and Highway 1, so in all honestly it’s just easier to use Google Maps to get out of the city and head north. Once you do get out of Vancouver, it’s easy though, and it’s a straight shot all the way to Whistler (approx. 100 km/62 miles).

As I said, not allowing the time to stop off several times along the Sea to Sky Highway would be a real shame. We advise allowing one full day at the very least or, ideally, spending a few days. The stops are truly epic, from huge gushing waterfalls, incredible hikes, suspension bridges, and even a historic mine to be seen along the way!

2. What’s so special about the Sea to Sky Highway?

Sea to Sky Highway from the sky
The Sea to Sky Highway is picture-perfect!

There are few highways in the world as pretty as the Sea to Sky Highway. This popular tourist route offers awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, Coast Mountain Range, breathtaking alpine lakes, and temperate rainforest.

There are literally incredible sights on almost every twist and turn of this highway, from the towering Stawamus Chief – a must-do hike in Squamish, to the cascading Shannon Falls – one of the tallest waterfalls in the province at a whopping 335 meters (1,099 feet) tall, to the wonderful coastal community of Lion’s Bay.

So, if you want to mix unbelievable hikes with historic sites and large towns, then the Sea to Sky Highway should be added to your BC road trip bucket list!

3. How long does it take to drive the Sea to Sky Highway?

Driving the Sea to Sky Highway is so amazing!

The Sea to Sky Highway from West Vancouver to Whistler is about 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) long, and without stops, it would take most people about two hours to drive. However, because there is so much to see and do along this scenic route, which we’ll delve into in more detail below, we recommend allowing at least one full day as that will enable you to stop at a couple of the top attractions along the way – we recommend Capilano Suspension Bridge, Britannia Mine, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Squamish.

But if you’re not tight on time, allow a few days to complete this drive – you can stop and spend the night in Squamish or at the campsites at Porteau Cove and Alice Lakes. Or if you’re a hiker, then you’ll definitely want to try the Panorama Ridge hike, which is only accessible from July to October and is best done as part of a multi-day hike, camping at Garibaldi Lake for the night.

By giving yourself more time to drive the Sea to Sky Highway, you can stop at all of the best stops (which I’ve listed below) – believe us, you won’t regret allowing more time for this road trip.

4. When is the best time to drive the Sea to Sky Highway?

The best time of year to drive the Sea to Sky Highway is from June to September. During these warmer months, the snow has melted from the roads, making driving conditions easier. The warmer weather also means that all the awesome hiking trails along the way are accessible.

However, summer is also the busiest time to drive the Sea to Sky Highway, so try to avoid driving at peak times (Friday afternoons, weekends, and holidays) during this season. Also, because this is the only road into Whistler from Vancouver, if there’s an accident, the road may need to close, resulting in long delays.

5. Can you drive the Sea to Sky Highway in winter?

Whistler Village in winter
Winter in Whistler is magical! Photo credit – Mardzpe Depositphotos

Yes, you certainly can drive the Sea to Sky Highway in the winter. In fact, this highway is open year-round! But, between October 1st and March 31st, winter tires or snow chains are required on the Sea to Sky Highway.

For the most part, the highway is in great shape, so I wouldn’t feel nervous about driving it in the winter. But, it is still winding and narrow in spots, particularly on the section between Squamish and Whistler, so use caution on this particular section of the highway in the winter.

6. Do you need a car to visit the Sea to Sky Highway?

View from our car window while driving the Sea to Sky Highway!

No, you don’t need a car to visit the Sea to Sky Highway. However, having your own car or a rental car to drive this jaw-droppingly beautiful route is highly recommended as it gives you the most freedom to stop where and when you please.

You can also join a guided tour, take a bus, or an express shuttle from Vancouver to Whistler via the Sea to Sky Highway. However, the coach and express shuttle don’t stop along the way and are simply a mode of transport to get you from Vancouver to Whistler or vice-versa!

7. What are the best tours of the Sea to Sky Highway?

view from the Sea to Sky Gondola of the ocean
Be sure to choose a tour that visits the Sea to Sky Gondola!

As you can imagine, there are lots of guided tours on offer for this popular road trip, so if you don’t fancy driving and like having a knowledgeable guide along – then check out two of our favorite guided tours of the Sea to Sky Highway, from Vancouver.

Whistler and Sea to Sky Gondola Tour

This group tour of Whistler is the ideal way to combine a tour of the Sea to Sky Highway with a visit to Whistler! The tour takes approximately 10 hours, and the meeting point is at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. It costs $214 CAD per person and includes a super-enthusiastic tour guide, as well as two epic stops on the Sea to Sky Highway, before having some free time to explore Whistler. 

Your first stop on the Sea to Sky Highway is Shannon Falls Park, where you can hike through the lush rainforest and to the base of the mighty Shannon Falls. Your next stop is the iconic Sea to Sky Gondola, where you can take in the enchanting views of the Howe Sound and the surrounding coastal rainforest. You’ll jump off the gondola at Summit Lodge, from where you can have a coffee and take in the views, go for a short hike, or walk over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge (our top suggestion!).

After the gondola, it’s a short drive to Whistler, where you will have three hours of free time in Whistler Village. And you will not be short on things to do in Whistler, as it has so much to offer all year round! 

This is one of the more popular tours, with over 500 reviews on Viator, so it’s best to book in advance! Plus, with free cancellation up to 24 hours before you take off, you can secure your spot and be safe if any plans change. You can book a spot on this epic day trip from Vancouver online here.

 Whistler and Sea to Sky Gondola Tour (including Squamish)

This tour will pick you up from your hotel in Vancouver to drive the famous Sea to Sky Highway. There are three incredible stop-offs included in the price, and the first is Shannon Falls Provincial Park, home of Shannon Falls, aka the third tallest waterfall in BC!

Next, you will arrive in Squamish, where you will hop on the incredible Sea to Sky Gondola, one of our all-time favorite things to do in British Columbia! The gondola rises a whopping 2,900 feet (885 meters), providing unbeatable views of the Howe Sound! From the summit, you can go for a hike or walk across the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge!

Then, it’s time to explore Whistler – for four hours, to be exact. We recommend wandering the village stroll and stopping into some of the town’s finest restaurants for some delicious food. Some other suggestions are to walk to Lost Lake, or if you’re visiting Whistler in the summer, hop on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to take in some seriously awe-inspiring scenery. Honestly, Whistler has so much to offer you definitely won’t be bored during your four hours here. 

It’s a long day, and you will return to your Vancouver hotel between 8:30 and 9 pm. This tour costs $193 CAD per person, which includes your ticket to Shannon Falls and the Sea to Sky Gondola as well as hotel pick-up and drop-off. It’s also easy to book a spot with the buy now, pay later option with Viator.  

8. Are there buses that drive the Sea to Sky Highway?

Yes, several coaches and shuttles drive the Sea to Sky Highway, most of which start in Vancouver and end in Whistler. However, these shuttles and coaches don’t stop along the way, so if you choose this option, you will be missing out on some seriously great sights.

Below I’ve listed the best buses that drive the Sea to Sky Highway.

Vancouver Airport to Whistler Shuttle

This express shuttle service leaves from the Vancouver International Airport Arrivals on Level 2 and takes three hours to reach Whistler, where you will be dropped off at the Whistler Gateway Loop, next to the Visitor Center. 

Prices for this particular shuttle start from $98 CAD per person, which includes one large bag, one hand luggage, and either a set of skis or a snowboard. Note, that there’s a $15 CAD surcharge for any extras. You can grab a seat on this hassle-free shuttle by booking online here.

Another great alternative from Vancouver Airport to Whistler is this shuttle bus service which also picks up from the international airport arrivals on Level 2. The journey takes three hours, and you can choose to get off at Squamish, Creekside Village, or at the last stop at the Whistler Visitor Center. 

This option costs just $78 CAD, and because it’s great value-for-money, it tends to sell out during busy months, so ensure to book your travel dates online ASAP.

Vancouver City Center to Whistler by Coach

This bus service from Vancouver takes you to either Whistler or Squamish by coach! It offers frequent departure times and leaves from outside of the Hyatt Regency Hotel near Burrard Metro Station in the center of Vancouver. 

The coach has onboard WiFi and toilet facilities and a one-way coach journey starts from $47 CAD. Drop-off locations in Whistler include the Whistler Visitor Center or Creekside Village. This is a popular way to get to Whistler, so make sure to book your seats on the coach in advance.

Private Charter Bus

If you’re traveling as a family or with a group, then, this private bus service is the way to go. This private shuttle will pick you up anywhere in Vancouver and drop you off at your accommodation in Whistler. 

It is also perfect if you have skis or extra luggage that you might have to pay an additional fee for on a coach. 

The shuttle costs $499 CAD with a maximum of four people, working out at about $125 CAD each. You can book this private charter online here!

9. What are the best attractions on the Sea to Sky Highway?

For a relatively short drive – 120 km (74.6 miles) to be exact – there are a lot of awesome attractions to enjoy on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler. From learning all about the evolution of mining in B.C. at the Britannia Mine to the challenging but breathtakingly beautiful Garibaldi Lake hike, I’ve listed the best stops on the Sea to Sky Highway below!

Vancouver

Vancouver skyline as seen from Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver
The Vancouver skyline is so gorgeous!

I think it goes without saying that you take some time to explore Vancouver before departing on your road trip to Whistler via the Sea to Sky Highway. 

Vancouver is, after all, known as one of Canada’s most vibrant cities, attracting outdoor lovers and adventure enthusiasts from across the world. Therefore, as you can imagine, some of the best things to do in Vancouver include the great outdoors, from hiking Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver to strolling through the famed Stanley Park.

Lighthouse Park is so pretty and offers the chance to see some of Canada’s largest Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees! It’s just a 10-minute walk to the lighthouse, and, in our opinion, it’s one of the best easy hikes in Vancouver. It’s also one of the best things to do in Vancouver in the summer!

As I mentioned walking through the 1,000-acre Stanley Park is also a must-do Vancouver activity! Home to the iconic Seawall trail, you can walk or bike it either on your own or as part of a Stanley Park tour. And if you’re a fan of the latter, consider this specific bike tour which goes through Stanley Park and along the Seawall and is done on e-bikes, so you won’t burn too much energy! It costs $150 CAD and goes for 4 hours. 

We’ve personally taken this tour and had such a good time, even as locals! It’s a fantastic way to learn about the city and it’s simply fun. It can be booked up during the summer, so it’s best to book your tour in advance!

In my opinion, no trip to Vancouver is complete without checking out Granville Island. Though it’s not technically an island, it’s an awesome little place to shop, eat, explore art galleries, and more! There’s a lot more to do on Granville Island than originally meets the eye so be sure to allow for some time here. To me, the VIP Granville Island Food Tour was such a fun way to eat my way through the market!

This is a fantastic way to explore the historic Granville Island Market, but you’ll also learn tons about this pocket of Van. Plus, all the food is included (and you’ll be eating a lot) so it’s a fun way to get to know the local side of the city. This tour is $185 CAD and can be booked in advance here.

Related Read: If you have more time consider spending 3 days in Vancouver, it’s the ideal amount of time to get a feel for the city and experience all the fun things to do!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge!

Just a short 15-minute drive outside of Vancouver City is your next stop on the Sea to Sky Highway! And it’s one of the most iconic Vancouver attractions – the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This is a fun and exciting stop for pretty much anyone, and the forest views here are mesmerizing! Plus, don’t you just love the smell of fresh cedar trees?

Although the main focal point here is the huge 137-meter (450-foot) suspension bridge that is situated 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River, the rest of the 27-acre park has much more to offer – make sure you read our full guide on the Capilano Suspension Bridge before you go! There’s a treetop walk through lush forests alive with wildlife, an epic Cliffwalk, a glass-floor lookout, and The Birds of Raptors Ridge where you can meet owls, eagles, and other birds of prey up close.

The suspension bridge and extra attractions are all included in your admission ticket for $66 CAD. Since this is relatively close to Vancouver, it can be quite popular. I recommend going in the early morning or late afternoon and try to avoid weekends. To make your experience even more seamless, it’s best to buy your tickets in advance online here!

Tunnel Bluffs Hike

man sitting at the top of Tunnel Bluffs Hike
What a view!

There are many incredible hikes on the Sea to Sky Highway, and the first one we recommend stopping at is Tunnel Bluffs, which is rated as intermediate and will take you about four hours. The trail is 11.5 km (7 miles) roundtrip, but the challenge is the elevation gain – a whopping 470 meters (1,542 feet)! And remember, too, that there are many steep switchbacks along the way, so a reasonable level of fitness is needed. 

You can access the Tunnel Bluffs hike from the Lions Bay exit (Sunset Trailhead). Even though this hike is a challenge, once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with the most stunning views of Bowen Island. You’ll even see as far as the Sunshine Coast on a fine day!

It’s worth noting that parking at the main car park costs $3 CAD per hour or $24 CAD per day. There is an overflow car park at the elementary school, a 1 km (0.64 mi) walk from the trailhead, and it is extra steep. So aim to arrive early to nab a spot in the main parking lot.

Related Read: Check out the other awesome hikes near Vancouver here!

Porteau Cove

A few more kilometers up the Sea to Sky Highway is Porteau Cove Provincial Park, a park and scenic campground (more on the campground later in the blog post) that is 100% worth a stop. Hop out and stretch your legs at this scenic viewpoint, walking out onto the old dock to catch some views of the nearby islands.

Porteau Cove is a popular spot for deep-sea divers, so if you’re a diver, be sure to book a dive here! It is super easy to safely enter the water because there is a diver-specific metal ladder here, and underwater you can discover the shipwrecks that are marked with buoys and see the diverse sea life, including starfish, sea cucumbers, lingcod, and more.

Britannia Mine

the inside of Britannia mine on the road from Vancouver to Whistler
Such an interesting place to check out. Photo Credit: Britannia Mine

The most important historic site along the Sea to Sky Highway is the Britannia Mine Museum. It’s a brilliant family-friendly museum, completely different from what you may imagine a “museum” to be. First, you enter the mine on a train, and secondly, your knowledgeable guide will demonstrate the mining techniques used when this underground mine was in operation between 1904 and 1974. You’ll even get the chance to pan for gold! 

Fun Fact – it was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire, and it employed over 60,000 people and had tunnels covering 210 kilometers (130 miles)!

Here, you’ll also find an on-site cafe and gift store. Entrance tickets (which include an underground mine tour and gold panning) are $42 CAD per person. We advise booking your tour in advance as there are select departure times, and group sizes are limited.

I don’t always love museums, but this one was such a unique experience. It is well worth a stop, not just for learning about mining but because it’s fun! You can book tickets in advance here with free cancellation.

Shannon Falls

Shannon Falls on the road between Whistler and Vancouver
The mighty Shannon Falls!
Bailey at Shannon Falls, BC
Bailey posing at the falls lookout!

Just before you get to Squamish, you’ll come across the mighty Shannon Falls (the parking lot is well signposted from the highway). These huge, gushing falls stand at 335 meters (1,099 feet) tall, and it’s an easy, relatively flat trail to the falls lookout – so the walk is suitable for the whole family.

Allow around an hour here to walk the trail and snap some photos. The ideal time to visit Shannon Falls is late spring/summer when winter snow on the neighboring mountains has melted, and the falls are at their most powerful.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Spirit Viewing Platform on the Sea to Sky Gondola, BC
The Spirit Viewing Platform at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola!

If you’re a fan of jaw-dropping views (aren’t we all!), ensure you stop and ride the Sea to Sky Gondola! You’ll find it just before the city of Squamish.

The famed Sea to Sky Gondola travels up the side of Mount Habrich, offering 360-degree views along the way. Once at the top, you can go on a hike, check out the suspension bridge, have a drink or snack at the on-site restaurant, and take in the views. 

The best hike, from the summit, in our opinion, is the 1.6 km (1 mile) Panorama Trail that leads to a viewing platform of the Squamish Valley and the famed Stawamus Chief Mountain. 

A day pass for the gondola is $72 per adult on the weekdays and $75 CAD on the weekends, and discounted rates are available for children and seniors. If you love a challenge, you can hike to the summit instead of taking the gondola, but be warned, it’s a tough slog (almost 1,000 m/3,280 feet elevation gain!). If you choose this, you may then just pay the one-way fare to ride the gondola back down.

As is with a lot of these attractions along the Sea to Sky Highway, it can be quite busy during the summer and weekend. It’s best to book your tickets in advance during these times so you can save time and enjoy the gondola instead of waiting in line!

Squamish

View of Squamish, BC
An epic view of Squamish!

Squamish is an awesome city and a great place to stop for a few hours or, even better, to spend the night! However, if you’re short on time, just make a quick pitstop here – it’s the only city you’ll drive through between Vancouver and Whistler, so it’s the perfect place to fuel up or grab a bite to eat.

Squamish is a paradise for the outdoorsy crowd, with many people visiting or moving here for its unbeatable outdoor lifestyle. There are abundant hiking, rock climbing, and windsurfing opportunities here. We’ve tried most of the best things to do in this scenic city, and below, you can read about some of our favorite Squamish activities. 

Via Ferrata – Try out assisted rock climbing with Via Ferrata! You’ll climb up granite cliffs with a fixed cable system and hold onto large steel rungs. It’s just like climbing a giant ladder… but on a cliffside! The Via Ferrata climbing experience in Squamish can be booked online and is led by a certified guide. It starts at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola (previously mentioned above), so you must book gondola tickets separately. 

Go whitewater rafting – See Squamish from the water while navigating the exhilarating Class 3-4 rapids on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers. The “Devil’s Elbow” section of the river is sure to get your heart pumping! This whitewater rafting tour is about 16 km (10 miles) long and costs $210 CAD, and includes transportation, a guide, and all the gear you need.

Hike Stawamus Chief – If you’re looking for an iconic, Instagram-worthy hike to do in the area, the Stawamus Chief hike has got to be your top choice. It’s very popular with locals and tourists alike. The hike is rated as intermediate, but depending on your route, it can be longer or shorter (2.5 hours on average, but some take over 6 hours). There is about a 600-meter (1,968-foot) elevation gain, so get ready for a workout!

Garibaldi Lake

A wooden boardwalk along Garibaldi lake
There’s really nowhere more beautiful!

I told you there was a lot of awesome hiking along the Sea to Sky Highway, and Garibaldi Lake is another great one! This is an intermediate-rated hike, but at 820 meters (2,690 feet) of elevation gain, it’s quite a challenge!

The hike is about 18 km (11 miles) roundtrip and will take approximately six hours from start to finish. Personally, I would allow a little more time to relax at the lake before hiking back down. So, let’s call it seven hours for this hike!

The hike is accessible from the Rubble Creek parking lot, just south of Whistler, and the trail starts at the wooden steps at the top of the lot. You’ll follow the trail until you get to the stunning turquoise-colored Garibaldi Lake.

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls, Squamish, BC
It’s one of the most accessible and beautiful waterfalls near Squamish!

You’re on the final stretch into Whistler now, and the stunning 70-meter (230-foot) Brandywine Falls should be your second-last stop. The falls can be seen from a viewpoint, just a short and easy 1 km (0.62 mi) return walk from the car park.  

Photography fans especially love this stop. I mean, just look at the photo above – Brandywine Falls are gorgeous!

My tip, though, is to keep walking after getting to the first viewpoint because there is an even better lookout just a few meters ahead!

The Train Graveyard

Whistler train graveyard
Whistler train graveyard!

And your final stop before Whistler is the Whistler Train Wreck. This unique art installation is nestled in the middle of the forest in the neighborhood of Cheakamus. Hear me out. This is not your typical art installation. It was made by accident when a train derailed here in 1956, and over the years, the old train boxcars (there are seven in total) have been transformed into quirky pieces of art thanks to local graffiti artists! 

Today, the train graveyard is accessible by various trails, but the quickest one is actually from a pullover bay right off the highway. You can see this trail if you check the train wreck location on Google maps

On the way to the trains, you’ll also pass a beautiful suspension bridge that crosses the Cheakamus River. A great spot to pause and snap some photos!

Whistler

Views of Whistler town from the gondola
Views from the Whistler Gondola!

You’ve reached the final stop on your Sea to Sky Highway road trip, and there are plenty of fun things to do and see in Whistler, so many that you could easily spend weeks here and still not see it all. If you’re visiting Whistler in the summer, get out on those hiking trails, and if you’re in Whistler in the winter, be sure to hit the slopes. Whistler in autumn is also especially pretty!

As skiing and snowboarding are the most popular winter activities, Blackcomb Moutain is the place to go. This ski resort is Whistler’s pride and joy, with over 200 different runs, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, and 36 different lifts. The Whistler ski season typically runs from November to March, and various passes are available, including single-day, multi-day, and season passes. Lift passes for adults start at $229 CAD when you buy them in advance online!

This is also where you’ll find the HUGE Peak 2 Peak Gondola that holds the world record for the longest gondola and the highest and longest unsupported span of any lift in the world. It connects the top of Blackcomb Mountain with Whistler Mountain, spans the valley, and offers some of the most beautiful views you’ll have ever seen.

In summer, one of the best ways to spend a good chunk of the afternoon is by exploring one of the nearby lakes! Green LakeAlta Lake, and my favorite, Lost Lake, are accessible via easy walking trails through the surrounding pine forest.

Here are some of my favorite things to do in Whistler!

  • Zipline – Ziplining in Whistler is a must for thrill seekers, you have to check out this particular zipline called the Sasquatch®! This huge zipline will have you reaching speeds of well over 100 km/hr (62 mph) – it’s an adrenaline rush for sure! This zipline experience starts at $147 CAD per person and can even be done in Spring, Summer, and Fall (until mid-October). It is only one zipline but is well worth it if you ask me – book it in advance here.
  • The Skywalk – While at the top of Whistler Mountain, add a little adventure to your itinerary! The Skywalk is a thrilling hiking and climbing experience that is suitable for all ages. You will be clipped into a harness and cables as you climb rock faces, over suspension brides, and experience the mountain in a whole new way. You can pick up tickets in advance with 24-hour cancellation, so it’s a flexible activity.
  • Go on a distillery tour – Deep in one of Whistler’s hidden neighborhoods you can take a tour of Montis Distilling for $88 CAD and taste all of their available products! There’s the option to upgrade your tour to include a curated charcuterie box from another local company Picnic Whistler that will pair well with all of your samples. How could you say no – I know I couldn’t! At the end, you can be dropped off at one of the best cocktail bars in Whistler, The Raven Room. Book this tour in advance here!
  • Kayak the river of Golden Dreams – this kayaking tour travels between two of Whistler’s biggest lakes starting at Alta Lake. From here, you’ll head off down the river mouth while floating along casually paddling in the currents. Along the way, you’ll see geese, navigate past beaver dams, and enjoy overhanging greenery and stunning views. It’s a great self-guided tour that’ll cost you about $149 CAD for 3 hours on the lake with all of your equipment included – secure your spot ahead of time so you don’t miss out!

No matter the time of year, wandering around Whistler Village is always fun! Check out the many local restaurants and boutique shops, and be sure to visit Purebread, an amazing bakery and coffee shop in Whistler. There are also a few different museums to check out – if you want to learn about the culture of the Skw̲xw̲ú7mesh and Lílw̓at people, head to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center.

Related Read: Check out the 13 Best Tours in Whistler! If you have more time in this mountain town, these are not to be missed!

Where to Stay in Whistler

There are tons of choices when it comes to hotels in Whistler, below are some of my very favorites:

Adara Hotel – Our top choice

Our go-to hotel in Whistler is the Adara Hotel. For us, it is the perfect mix of luxury and affordability with everything you need for a comfortable stay. They offer underground parking and are only a one-minute walk from the Whistler Stroll, so you can park your car and leave it while you explore Whistler Village. They also have a beautiful outdoor pool and hot tub offering mountain views – perfect for relaxing in the evening. The loft rooms are our favorite, and most also offer mountain views from the upstairs patio.

You can check prices, availability, and book Adara Hotel on Booking.com here.

Delta Hotels by Marriott Whistler Village Suites – Luxury hotel $$$

For a luxury hotel in the heart of Whistler, the Whistler Village Suites is my top choice. For Whistler, it’s still a great value hotel and has a swimming pool, 3 hot tubs, a bar, a fitness center, and a restaurant. The rooms are very nice and for groups, they have 2 bedroom apartments. Some of the suites even have balconies with mountain views! You can check availability on Booking.com

The Listel Hotel Whistler – Mid-range hotel $$

The Listel Hotel is a beautiful place to stay in the heart of Whistler. It has an almost unbeatable location close the village and to the gondolas which is convenient if you are planning to ski! I still consider it a mid-range option for Whistler but the hotel has lots of luxuries including a spa, restaurant, and bar. Rooms on average cost $300 CAD. You can check availability on Booking.com

Hi Whistler – Budget-friendly hostel $

For those travelers on a budget, the Hi Whistler is one of the only budget options. Although a hostel, the place is very clean and comfortable and they also have private rooms. They also have Cheaky’s Café which serves coffee, snacks, meals, beer, cider, and wine. It’s a great place to meet travelers and enjoy your time in Whistler. A single bunk in a mixed dorm room averages $56 CAD. You can easily book a room on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Related Read: Those are just a few of the many amazing places to stay in Whistler – read our blog for more info!

10. Are there places to stay on the Sea to Sky Highway?

Porteau Cove Lookout and campsite
Porteau Cove is one of the best places to camp along the Sea to Sky Highway!

Yes, there are several options for places to stay on the Sea to Sky Highway. There are two great campsites at Porteau Cove, about 40 minutes from Vancouver, and at Alice Lake, north of Squamish. The most accommodation options can be found in Squamish, and because this scenic town is about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, it’s a popular place to spend the night and break up the journey along the Sea to Sky Highway.

Porteau Cove Campsite

Located 44 km (27 miles) from Vancouver, this waterfront campground boasts incredible views of Howe Sound. Here, you will find 60 vehicle-accessible sites, two cabins, communal fire rings, a garbage area, and two pit toilets.

Because this is one of the most popular campgrounds in the province, they have recently introduced a maximum stay policy of 7 nights, which applies year-round. Reservations can be made on BC Parks’ Camping Reservation System, which we highly recommend doing, as there are only five sites held back daily for walk-ins.

Squamish

If you want to break up the road trip on the Sea to Sky Highway, then Squamish is the perfect place to spend a night or two. There’s plenty to do in Squamish and lots of hotels to choose from.

For a budget stay, check out the Adventure Inn. You can get a private room for an affordable price here and access shared communal facilities like laundry and a kitchen – super handy if you want to save money by cooking.

For something a little nicer, check out the Mountain Retreat. This hotel features many different styles of rooms, from a standard queen all the way to a one-bedroom family suite. There is a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.

Alice Lake Provincial Park

Only 13 km (8 miles) north of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway, this scenic campground offers powered sites, and there is an $8 CAD additional charge for these. All in, there are 55 vehicle-accessible campsites and one group camping area here. 

The campground is nestled within the popular Alice Lake Provincial Park, which features four freshwater lakes and dense forest and is surrounded by towering mountains. Thanks to the freshwater lakes, it’s a great place to come for a swim or fish for rainbow trout and largemouth bass. And hikers will also love spending the night here as the DeBeck’s Hill Trail and the Four Lakes Trail are located within the park. If you do spend the night at this campground, don’t miss an evening stroll around Alice Lake. 

Be sure to book your camping in advance, especially during the peak months of July, August, and September. Camping is generally open from May until October each year.

11. Does the Sea to Sky Highway ever close?

Although the Sea to Sky Highway is open year-round, there may be occasions when this highway closes for a short period – due to a vehicle collision or bad weather. It’s important to note that as you climb into the mountains between Squamish and Whistler, there may be lots of snow in the winter. But, because it’s such a busy main highway, the snow plows operate regularly to clear the road. However, when the snow clearing is taking place, you may be caught in a long line of traffic. 

Remember that if you’re driving the Sea to Sky Highway between October 1st and March 31st, you must have winter tires or chains on your car, or you could be fined. 

You can check driving conditions before you depart on the highway webcams. The road conditions are also regularly updated on Tourism Whistler’s website

12. Is driving the Sea to Sky Highway worth it? 

Yes, driving the Sea to Sky Highway is totally worth it!

It’s quite an easy drive considering you’re driving from the sea to the mountains and the highway is in excellent condition and is cleared of snow and ice regularly in the winter months. Taking in some of the best places in BC, like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Shannon Falls, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Brandywine Falls, if you’re a fan of jaw-dropping natural beauty you simply HAVE TO include the Sea to Sky Highway on your Canada itinerary!

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at a viewpoint on an ATV tour in Whistler, BC
Thanks for reading!

I hope this guide to the Sea to Sky Highway has been helpful! Driving this beautiful route is one of our favorite things to do in Canada, and we just know that after completing it you’ll fall in love with this area too. I, for one, am itching to drive the Sea to Sky Highway again!

If you have any questions about traveling the Sea to Sky Highway please leave a comment below! Also, if you loved this travel guide, don’t miss all our other Canada travel guides here or these related articles below.

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