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There are tons of amazing things to do in Vancouver. But arguably, one of the best things to do in Vancouver is not even in the city, but rather, on the water! From the sea, you can enjoy the gorgeous horizon and views of Vancouver’s skyline!
Since Vancouver is surrounded by water, there are several cruise options for you to enjoy. Having spent several years in this city, we’ve tried many cruises, and one of our favorites is the sunset dinner cruise.
Whether you’re on a romantic vacation in Vancouver or want to escape the city with friends, a sunset dinner cruise is an outright unforgettable activity! You’ll enjoy stellar city views, an unobstructed sunset over the water, and a delicious meal with an excellent ambiance. How can you say no to any of that?!
Having experienced many cruises, we know which is our absolute favorite. So to save you the research, we created this guide to the best sunset dinner cruise in Vancouver – including everything you should know before booking.
If that’s not your thing (or you want even more options for water-based adventures), we also added a few alternate tours. Read on to find the best option for you!
Why go on a sunset dinner cruise in Vancouver?
Nestled among mountains and the ocean, Vancouver is famous for its scenic views. What we love about this sunset cruise is that it flips the script. You get the most amazing vantage point of the city set to a backdrop of mountains while relaxing on the water.
A sunset cruise is easily one of the best things to do in all of BC and allows you to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Vancouver skyline while escaping the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you only have 3 days to spend in Vancouver or live here, this is a can’t-miss experience we would do again and again.
Being on the ocean is such a big part of life in the Pacific Northwest. So why not get some time on the sea while sipping sparkling wine and gazing out at that golden hour glow? As if it couldn’t get any better, throw a delicious dinner into the mix.
Not everyone thinks to put a sunset cruise on their Vancouver bucket list, but IYKYK (if you know, you know)! And trust us, we KNOW.
Where do the BEST sunset dinner cruises in Vancouver go?
Stanley Park is filled with lush greenery in the middle of a metropolis. I love observing the contrast between the two, which you can only really appreciate from a great vantage point – like the water!
A cruise that goes under the Lions Gate Bridge (like this one!) is a good one in our books. There is something magical about cruising under the bridge, especially at dusk. At this time, it’s all lit up against the backdrop of a sunset orange sky and the glimmering city lights.
If you ask a local Vancouverite for their favorite sunset spot, there’s a good chance they will tell you about one of the best beaches in Vancouver known as English Bay. From here, the views of the mountains and lush nature are unmatched – and they’re made even more stunning surrounded by the pink and gold clouds at sunset.
Related Read: You can also witness many amazing views from mountaintops and sights within the city. Check out the best hikes in Vancouver for great vantage points or go even higher on a helicopter flight!
What is the best sunset dinner cruise in Vancouver?
We love a sunset cruise. Especially in Vancouver, where the scenery is just breathtaking no matter where you look. While we have done many sunset cruises around Vancouver, this specific cruise blows the others out of the water (pun intended).
We keep returning to this Harbor Sunset Dinner Cruise and being like, “remember that amazing cruise…” There are so many reasons this one is at the top of our list.
The Harbor Cruise takes you around Vancouver’s downtown inner harbor and Burrard Inlet. In our opinion, these places have the best views of both Vancouver’s skyline and the North Shore Mountains.
This cruise hits all of the highlights that we talked about above. You will cruise under the Lion’s Gate Bridge (have your camera ready, you won’t want to miss this photo-op!), and then head into Burrard Inlet with views of English Bay. Remember when we said Stanley Park looks beautiful from the water? Well, you’ll be seeing plenty of the park on this cruise!
Starting at $209 CAD per person, this Vancouver Sunset Dinner Cruise is a great value, especially considering the quality of the food and drinks (which we will discuss later!). In addition to the lavish buffet, you’ll be treated to live music from local musicians. The entertainment really feels like the cherry on top of this whole experience.
You’ll be on the water for 2.5 hours, which we think is the perfect amount of time to relax and eat your tasty meal leisurely. This option is by far the dreamiest in terms of views and onboard experience.
This cruise is seasonal, running from April through mid-October. So if you already know you want to sign up, check availability and book online here!
And if you’re still not convinced, read on to see why this cruise is so unforgettable!
Related Read: Another place to cruise and enjoy the sights is south of the border on a river cruise in Washington, DC!
Why we love this sunset dinner cruise in Vancouver
Okay, let’s get into the details that make this cruise our favorite of all the sunset cruises we’ve done in Vancouver.
First of all, the timing of the cruise is perfect. The departure from the harbor is at 7 pm, which gives you enough time to enjoy the golden hour. From our experience, we could watch the sun dip low into the deep orange sky without feeling like we were waiting around. Basically, the tour operators know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to timing!
The cruise leaves from the harbor right beside Stanley Park. Not only is it easy and convenient to find, it means you can explore the park before the cruise, and then head out for a post-cruise cocktail.
So if you’re looking for somewhere to grab a drink and talk about the cruise highlights afterward, we recommend heading to Cardero’s restaurant, which is located on the water. They have great cocktails and yummy food (in case you’re not totally stuffed from the buffet, of course). After our cruise, we came here for wine and dessert, and it really hit the spot!
If you book this cruise on Viator, the booking includes the 5% tax as well as an 18% gratuity, so you don’t have to worry about any extras before you disembark; it’s all taken care of. Believe us, after such a lovely experience, it’s nice not to think about money.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Lowest Price Guarantee – If you book on Viator and ever see the tour priced advertised cheaper elsewhere, you can contact Viator and they will price match. Note, Viator prices include tax, whereas many tours in Canada advertise prices without tax, so in the end, it works out to be the same price.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
The food on the Sunset Cruise
The dinner on board is a West Coast-inspired buffet. The menu is posted online here (make sure to scroll down). But we’ll give you a breakdown from our own experience to whet your appetite!
To start your meal, they have fresh, delicious salads (our favorite was the Greek salad!) and other incredible accouterments.
For the main, we got to choose between the slow-roasted beef sirloin and the baked salmon filet or both! (When you’re at a buffet, why not have it all?). The salmon was so fresh and full of flavor. You can tell that salmon is a big part of the West Coast diet – and we’re glad it is!
Be sure to save room for dessert though! When we went, all of the desserts looked mouthwatering. We had the New York-style cheesecake and the decadent chocolate cake (brb while I drool over photos from that buffet dinner…).
Vegetarian options are also available, but you have to call the tour operator after booking to ensure they know you require a vegetarian main dish. We opted for the meat and seafood mains, so I don’t know what the veggie options are like. But judging by our great meal, I have no doubt it would be super tasty!
The dinner portion of the cruise is honestly like dining in a luxurious Vancouver restaurant, only the restaurant is a beautiful boat cruising along the harbor with the best views of Vancouver.
Are there any other great cruises in Vancouver?
There are a ton of other cruises around the Vancouver area and we know that it can be hard to sift through them all.
To help you, we’ve compiled a list of other tours we highly recommend. While the Harbor Sunset Dinner Cruise above is our absolute favorite, we consider the ones below to be our runner-up choices.
Maybe you want something off the beaten path, or you’re looking for more wildlife or adventure … whatever it is, no worries. We’ve got you! So keep reading for more cruise options.
Vancouver Harbor and Indian Arm lunch cruise
If you’d rather go on a cruise on a sunny afternoon, then this lunch cruise is the perfect option! This cruise also has a great daytime buffet and takes you through Vancouver’s inner harbor and Indian Arm.
Indian Arm is a glacial fjord formed during the last ice age as the glacier retreated, leaving behind a dramatic and breathtaking valley. This tour gives you the best of both worlds – the Vancouver city skyline and the gorgeous Pacific Northwest landscapes.
This 4-hour tour is the perfect way to escape the city for an afternoon. Plus, you can save the sunset for a beach or rooftop bar afterward!
When our friends visited, we did the lunch and dinner cruises on separate days. It was a great way to see the views from both a daytime and evening perspective (and get a hearty meal each time!).
For this cruise, you should meet at the ferry terminal off Denman Street by 11 am. We felt it was the perfect time since we could eat a light breakfast and fill up on lunch.
Prices start at $197 CAD, including lunch and a long, beautiful day on the boat. However, this tour does have limited availability throughout the year, so check dates and book your tickets here!
Granite Falls zodiac tour
If cruises aren’t really your vibe and you’re looking for more adventure, go for this Granite Falls Zodiac Tour! What I love about this tour is that it’s an exclusive opportunity to see some of Canada’s best scenery up close.
This 3-hour afternoon tour takes you to Granite Falls, which can only be accessed by boat. Most people who go to Vancouver (and even those who live in Vancouver) never get to see Granite Falls! I’m in the lucky minority and I’d recommend joining.
When you approach the Indian Arm, you’ll view Granite Falls and the stunning Silver Falls. As you cruise along, you also learn about geology and local history from your knowledgeable guide!
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity costs $139 CAD, which includes a safety vest and your guide. The tour is only offered from April through September, and they do sell out, so book your tickets online in advance!
Half-day whale watching adventure
If you’re visiting during whale-watching season, this unforgettable tour is a great option! Seeing orca whales is honestly so amazing, especially if you’ve never seen them in the wild before! But even then, I don’t think whale-watching in Vancouver ever gets old.
This tour from Granville Island lasts for about 3-5 hours aboard a comfy catamaran. You’ll cruise around the Gulf Islands, San Juan Island, and Howe Sound. The scenery alone would be enough to buy a ticket for this tour, but what makes it really special is seeing orca whales.
On board, there is a small crew of naturalists that are really knowledgeable about the marine life and geology in the area. They’ll inform you about the local sights and wildlife and know the best spots to spot whales. We find that learning from experts like this on a tour makes the experience even richer.
There are a few tours leaving daily between 8:30 am through the afternoon. So you can combine it with another Vancouver city tour, or spend the other half of your day relaxing.
This whale-watching tour costs $226 CAD and runs from April to the beginning of November. So if you’re visiting Vancouver during this time and have yet to see whales in their natural habitat, this is your chance! Book your tickets online here!
Snorkel, kayak, and seal adventure
Adventure lovers out there, listen up! This boat tour is perfect if you’re looking for something a little daring. You’ll go boating, snorkeling, and kayaking for the entire afternoon! And on top of that, you’ll spot cute seals playing in their natural habitat.
The highlight of this tour for me is getting to kayak and snorkel around the seals at Pam Rocks, a nature preserve where seal colonies love to hang out. The seals may just be sunning themselves on the rocks, but seals are known to be curious creatures, so they may even join you in the water!
If you look at the photos on the tour page, there’s a photo of a seal hugging someone’s flipper. I think that would be the most amazing thing ever!
If you’re not one for kayaking or snorkeling, no worries, you can also just stay in the boat and watch the seals from a distance. And if you’ve never kayaked or snorkeled before, don’t fret, the guides have all of the equipment you need and are happy to help you learn. You’ll be a pro by the end!
For $100 CAD, you can do the sightseeing-only option, including the cruise, your guides, and light snacks and refreshments. But for an additional $50 CAD, you get all the snorkeling equipment, a wetsuit, and a chance to try multiple adventure sports like snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
The tour starts in West Vancouver at 2 pm, so you still have time for a leisurely lunch beforehand. But this tour only runs from April through September, so book your tickets online here!
Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver
Vancouver is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So while you’re here, be sure not to miss some of the top attractions and activities:
- Hiking – There are a ton of amazing hikes in and around Vancouver. Challenge yourself with the famous Grouse Grind, wander the trails near the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, or even drive towards Squamish and do The Chief.
- Ride in a Seaplane – One of our favorite memories in Vancouver was riding in a seaplane. Taking off and landing on the ocean is super exciting, and then the views from the air are breathtaking. This seaplane ride lasts for 20 minutes and costs $160 CAD. It departs and returns to Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver. The best part is that seaplane tours in Vancouver operate all year round, so even if you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter you can take to the sky!
- Eat ALL the food! – Vancouver is a foodie destination. Showcasing cuisine from all around the world in top-rated restaurants, you really need to make an effort to eat out a few times while in Vancouver. For breakfast, Jam Cafe or Medina are our go-to’s. For Asian cuisine, you can’t pass up Minami for sushi or Danbo for Ramen. You can also join this highly-rated food tour that takes you to some of the city’s best restaurants in the area of Gastown.
- Explore Kitsilano – One of our favorite areas in all of Vancouver is Kitsilano. This suburb is super trendy and has many cute stores, cafes, and local restaurants that are well worth checking out. On top of that, Kitsilano Beach is one of the best beaches in Vancouver and the perfect place to relax. It’s also our favorite place to watch the sunset.
Where to Stay in Vancouver, Canada
With the Sunset Dinner Cruise and tons of other fun things to do in Vancouver, basing yourself here is a great idea. So let’s help you find an awesome place to stay!
Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. The fact is that in the summer and winter, the city books up in advance very fast! Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure the best place to stay for you!
Some great hotels and hostels in Vancouver that we love are:
Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$
The Hyatt Regency Vancouver has the perfect location halfway between Stanley Park and Gastown. It’s a great base to explore the downtown neighborhoods. Plus, it’s only a 20-minute walk to the Sunset Dinner Cruise if you want to get some exercise before dinner.
As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is very highly reviewed! It has an outdoor hot tub, a gym, a Starbucks on-site, and is within walking distance to many restaurants and sights.
Rooms start at $233 CAD and are clean, spacious, and very well-kept. So if you can afford to spend a little more, we recommend treating yourself to this hotel! You can check availability, prices, and book your stay here.
Times Square Suites – $$
For a beautiful hotel super close to the Sunset Cruise, you should opt for the Times Square Suites. It’s very hard to fault this hotel, and we think the location is amazing. You’ll be a 6-minute walk from the Sunset Cruise dock!
Plus, the suites are spacious yet have a cozy feel with kitchenettes and gas fireplaces. This hotel feels luxurious yet still affordable, with prices starting at $196 CAD when you book ahead online.
The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $
The Cambie Hostel Gastown is an overall good budget choice. It’s in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. Rooms are clean but the bathrooms are a little cramped.
For more info on the best areas and hotels, check out my complete guide on where to stay in Vancouver. It breaks down everything you need to know before choosing the right hotel!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
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!
When visiting Vancouver, we strongly encourage you to take a cruise! It’s a beautiful way to see the city and the surrounding nature. This Sunset Dinner Cruise is our favorite because you get a fantastic sunset view along with a delicious meal. But don’t take our word for it, check it out for yourself!
If you found this guide helpful, read my other blogs about Canada here. And for those staying in the Vancouver area, you might enjoy the articles below.