Category: victoria

Your top places to experience the ocean in BC

Where is your favourite place to experience the ocean in BC?

BC is blessed with 25,725 kilometres (15,984 miles) of stunning coastline, from soft sandy beaches to dramatic, rainforest-draped cliffs descending straight into the ocean. Our oceans offer outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing, with whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and otters in abundance. The fishing off the coast of BC is the stuff anglers’ dreams are made of, and our waters are a mecca for cold-water divers. Kayaking and boating in remote areas full of waterfalls and coastal hot springs makes for an unforgettable experience. We recently asked our Facebook fans for their favourite place to experience the magic of BC’s oceans, and here are their top five:

5. Victoria

Ocean waves hitting the rocky shore at Dallas Road in Victoria with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

Dallas Road, Victoria. Photo: Stewart Butterfield via Flickr

In the number five spot are the many local beaches in and around BC’s capital city. Victoria beaches run the gamut from sandy coves to rocky bluffs, and all offer a scenic escape from the city. In addition to its many beaches, this gorgeous oceanfront city offers many ways to get out on the water: join a whale watching tour right from the bustling Inner Harbour, take a stroll along iconic Dallas Road, kayak in Victoria’s calm, sheltered waters, or take a guided sightseeing trip on a harbour ferry for a unique tour of the city.

4. Vancouver

A close up view of runners, bikers and walkers enjoying the Stanley Park Seawall along Vancouver's coast on a sunny, blue skied day.

Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver. Photo: InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr

Next on the list: Vancouver. Like Victoria, Vancouver offers a ton of ways to take advantage of the city’s stunning coastal location, from whale watching excursions to kayaking to harbour tours. Vancouver’s kilometres of sandy beaches become a way of life in the summer, and it is not uncommon to see people commuting to work via harbour ferry. One popular Vancouver spot to enjoy the ocean mentioned in our Facebook poll is from the magnificent Stanley Park Seawall.

3. Johnstone Strait

Two kayakers in a double kayak experiencing a very close encounter with a whale on the surface of the water.

Kayakers having a close encounter with a whale in Johnstone Strait. Photo: Winky via Flickr

Our fans’ number three choice, this well known spot off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island is renowned as one of the top places on the planet to view Orcas. Commercial whale watching tours leaving from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Alert Bay take you straight to the action, and many have on-board naturalists to enhance your trip. Our fans mentioned the incredible experience of kayaking with the Orcas as one of the area’s major draws.

 2. Haida Gwaii

A person standing on a rock looking out into the vast ocean at Haida Gwaii with a cloudy sky above.

Haida Gwaii. Photo by Destination BC

In at number two is Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the coast of Northern BC known for its pristine natural environment and the ancient culture of the Haida First Nation. The waters surrounding these revered islands are teeming with marine life. Visitors to the islands experience incredible fishing, unforgettable kayaking along a coastline covered in lush rainforest, and strolling along beautiful beaches that go on forever.

1. Tofino/Ucluelet

A person's silhouette standing on the smooth beach in Tofino with the ocean waves crashing in the foreground and sunshine reflecting off of the wet sand.

Tofino. Photo by Bernard McManus via Flickr.

Our fans’ number one choice is the always popular Tofino and its close neighbour Ucluelet, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The area comes alive in the summer with people enjoying the ocean in a variety of ways: surfing, whale watching (this is a great place to see thousands of grey whales migrating), kayaking, fishing and beach combing. Long Beach, located between the two communities, was noted by Facebook fans as a place not to be missed. In the winter, these same picturesque beaches are a popular storm-watching destination.

Did we miss one of your favourites? Share in the comments below!

Related links:
Water Activities in British Columbia

The post Your top places to experience the ocean in BC appeared first on Explore BC.

Victoria’s real estate prices hold despite slow sales

VICTORIA BC – A slow start to the year in Victoria’s real estate market is evidence that buyers are continuing to wait for prices to drop. Although January 2013 sales are 21% lower than January 2012, the six-month average price for a Greater Victoria home is only down 1% for the same period.

“We are realistic and sales are not what we would like to see,” says Shelley Mann, President of Victoria Real Estate Board. “But there are many stories within the market. This week, three houses sold in Sidney that were all newly listed and they sold for over asking price.”

Mann adds that she’s spoken to several local REALTORS® who have clients who want to buy, but they are looking for good houses with quality amenities. “One Member told me that he has several potential buyers, but they can’t find anything they like.”

In January, 294 properties sold, compared to 372 in January 2012. The median price of a single family home is $482,500 compared to $522,000, a decline of 7.6.%. The six-month average shows a 1.4% decline, year-over-year, but less than one percent over last month.

“My basic message is that sales are down, prices are flat and our provincial economist is predicting 2013 will be a transition year,” Mann says. “He believes the economic fundamentals are strong, and as a result the sales volume will increase 4% this year over 2012, but prices will remain flat.”

Current active listings are 3,870. There were 81 condominium sales in January, a 24.6% increase over December 2012, while the median price of $238,350 is down 12.1% year-over-year. Townhouses saw increased sales in the past month and a median price of $382,000, up 4.7% year-over-year.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 9, up 5 over January 2012
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold:144, down 43 sales from January 2012
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 3 (1 over $2 million)

Crossing over to the Island

BC ferry links the mainland to Vancouver Island
BC ferries link Vancouver Island and the mainland

Vancouver Island is typically called The Island by people here in B.C. We have a lot of islands but Vancouver Island is the big one. In fact it is about the size of England.

I have just been using the ferries as I am writing this in Victoria. We are here for some business and for my cousins’ party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!

We came over on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. This takes about an hour and forty minutes to get you to Nanaimo.

This was both a business and pleasure trip for us and looking around at the passengers I’d say that most look liked they were there for pleasure. They were dressed for the outdoors, with hiking boots or sandals, t-shirts or fleeces (on the decks the ferries can often be cold and breezy).

There were others who were probably on business. Heads buried in their laptops or going over papers. They wore more business attire, though we are not a dressy people here, so there were no suits that I saw.

I guess we have mixed feelings about the ferries. That stretch of water is a nuisance. It’d be nice to be able drive the whole way. And relying on BC Ferries, which has a monopoly, is annoying.

On the other hand, there is definitely something relaxing about the sea voyage. Even if you are on a business trip, you can relax a bit, enjoy some spectacular scenery and chat with people you meet. The time goes quickly enough and you’re probably less stressed when you arrive.

For those who really are in a hurry there are the air services linking the Mainland and the Island. These can be a great way to travel as the views are spectacular. Flying with Harbour Air, for instance, will take you from harbour to harbour in 35 minutes. And enjoying the views is also going to help you relax before your ever so important meeting!

June’s real estate round up

Housing statistics

In June British Columbia’s real estate market has been approaching balance – mostly. Like any generalization, including this one, there are exceptions and some of them are significant.

BC’s real estate market is managed by a number of real estate boards, and each has a somewhat different approach to how statistics are presented, so this round up is patchy.

In Vancouver, the market has been moving towards a balanced one. Balance means that the market favours neither buyer nor seller. In recent months we have seen that the sellers have had the edge in some areas, and buyers in others. This is still true, but it is Vancouver West, South Surrey/White Rock and West Vancouver that have been sellers’ markets. Much of the rest of the region has been balanced or has favoured the buyer. Detailed information is available on our real estate blog.

The Fraser Valley market is also balanced, though moving towards a buyers’ market. Sales were seasonally lower but prices were marginally higher than May 2011. The market in the valley is also variable according to the type of property and the specific areas, so once again it is important to get expert advice.

Victoria has been a buyers’ market and June continues this story. Prices may be edging up, but the increase in the number of listings is a strong sign that buyers have the advantage at the moment.

I am still waiting for statistics from the Okanagan where the real estate board is slower to produce updates – I guess they are too busy enjoying the relaxed lifestyle!

If you want tailored information on real estate for any area then let me know.

Buyers’ market for Victoria real estate in June 2011

House on the outskirts of Victoria
A home in Victoria

According to the Victoria Real Estate Board the average price for single-family homes sold in Greater Victoria last month (June) was $629,292, up from $628,462 in May. The median price also rose to $569,900 while the six-month average declined slightly to $619,568. There were 23 single family home sales of over $1 million in June.

While sales for the year so far are down on those for 2010, the sales in June were close to the norm for this time of year. However the total number of listings is increasing, and according to the Board’s president, Dennis Fimrite: “The available choice for buyers increased further last month with 5,050 properties available for sale at the end of June – the highest monthly level in 15 years.” That strongly suggests a buyer’s market and anyone looking at a purchase now would be in a good bargaining position. Our partners in the area are happy to advise!

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