British Columbia

B.C. Forest Fires
Jul02

The truth is that B.C. is both heavily forested (which we love) and can be incredibly hot and dry (perfect for beaches)—but sometimes these two beautiful sentiments combine into something nefarious: B.C. forest fires. First of all: take a deep breath! You don’t necessarily have to cancel your trip and forest fire-related casualties are exceedingly rare (and more likely for emergency personnel like police and firefighters).   

That being said, here are 6 things you should know about B.C. forest fires before your trip.  

Many, Many Forest Fires are Human-Started  

This is the sad truth. So many forest fires could be prevented each year if campers, hikers, visitors, and locals worked together to adhere to fire safety rules. Never throw a cigarette butt on the ground; listen to fire bans in the area; make sure your fire pit is completely extinguished before going to sleep; never leave live flames unattended.   

B.C. Averages 1,352 Wildfires Annually, but…  

Many of them are small, quickly put out, or far away from human civilization of any kind. In fact, forest fires are a natural and important part of the ecosystem. It clears away dead matter from the forest floor and makes room for fresh, new growth. Sometimes controlled burns (human started and monitored) are used to “clean up” the ecosystem on purpose.   

COVID-19 Actually Decreased the Number of Fires in B.C.  

This is mainly because people were not travelling and therefore were not lighting fires or leaving them unattended. As stated before, please, please take care while camping or hiking so that you aren’t the cause of an unexpected blaze.   

Many B.C. Cities and Towns Are Not Affected  

Many areas don’t get that many forest fires and the most you see will be a bit of smoke in the sky. You will still be able to be outside, go to beaches, attend events, camp, and go about your daily life. The only time you need to take caution is when there is an air quality warning.  

You Can Track Current Wildfire Activity  

Worried about whether a fire will pop up in your area? You can track B.C. wildfire activity yearly using the B.C. government’s wildfire dashboard. Fires are very common but most of them are so small or isolated that you won’t even notice them during your stay.   

We Will Inform You of Noteworthy Fires Beforehand  

We send out newsletters that encompass everything from local events in the area to wildfire warnings. If something is amiss, we’ll let you know well ahead of time. This includes anything like water advisories, major highway shutdowns, and anomalous weather events. We strive to keep you informed all throughout your trip!   

Always be fire safe but also keep in mind that fires are a normal part of the first lifecycle and are usually not cause for alarm at all. Still have questions? Give us a call at Breakaway Vacations.  

You might also like Vancouver Island Cabin Rentals: 7 Things to Look for Before You Book

Local B.C. Produce
Jun28

B.C. has mild, warm weather and long summers that make it perfect for farming culture. You’ll see local B.C. produce at farmers’ markets and in grocery stores (both corporate and boutique). If you’re visiting British Columbia, say at one of Breakaway Vacations‘ luxury vacation cottages and rental, you might even get the chance to pick these products up right from the source!   

Here are 4 local B.C. produce and products to look for while you’re here.  

Donia Farms’ Grass-Fed Milk, Butter, and Yogurt  

Donia Farms is a third-generation family farm located in South Surrey, near Vancouver. Their website is packed with love, carefully detailing the special ways they care for their animals, what they feed livestock, and recipes to use with their produce. Their logo is an iconic staple in Canadian supermarkets: a calm bovine bent down, feeding. They specialize in grass-fed milk-based products, including milk, butter and yogurt.   

BCB Honey Farm’s Raw, Clover, and Raspberry Honey  

BCB Honey Farms is also located in Surrey, B.C., and makes an appearance at many of the local farmer’s markets around the greater city area, like the West End Farmers Market and Kitsilano Farmers Market. Not only are they dedicated to providing delicious, raw honey, but their mission statement also includes a desire to foster a healthy bee population for generations to come. They make regular honey or flavoured honey, including clover and raspberry varieties.   

Morningstar Farm’s Little Qualicum Cheeseworks  

B.C. actually has many cheese makers scattered throughout the province. If you’re visiting the Islands, including the Parksville area, you might want to check out Morningstar Farm’s and/or Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. Morningstar Farms is a 90-acre dairy farm that specializes in Swiss-style artisan cheese. They now offer many varieties, like bleu claire, caerphilly, caraway jill, curds. Feta, island brie, and more. Their produce is sold in many locations across Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and the Sunshine Coast—the details of which are listed on their website.   

Sirene Chocolate Bars and Cocoa Powder  

Some things we just can’t grow in B.C….like cocoa beans. However, there are local companies dedicated to ethically sourcing ingredients before putting them to work in a Canadian kitchen. Sirene Chocolate sources their beans from Guatemala, Tanzania, Ecuador, Peru, Uganda, and Mexico. Once they get their hands on the beans, they turn them into delicious bars and powder in their custom chocolate workshop located in Victoria, B.C.  

Have you tried any local B.C. produce or products that you want to scream about from the rooftops? We hope so! If not, come stay with us at Breakaway Vacations‘ and we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in the bustling local markets.  

You might also like Pender Island Attractions: 10 Things to See & Do

Pender Island Attractions
May21

There’s a lot to love about Pender Island. Here are some of our favourite Pender Island attractions, sites, and hot spots.   

The Beaches  

Pender Island is divided into the North and South islands and both have plenty of beaches to choose from. Try Beaumont Marine Park or Brooks Point Regional Park (south island) or Roe Lake, Medicine Beach Sanctuary, or Roesland Gulf National Park (north island). Waterfront hot spots vary across the island so you might find rocky shore, silky smooth sands, or winding marina docks. 

Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards  

If you know anything about B.C., you know that we love our vineyards and wineries. Pender Island has one of its own: Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards. Their tasting room is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 PM. They were featured by SIP Northwest as one of the “9 Wineries to Visit Before You Die”.

The Parks  

Pender Island offers many parks and natural areas for the wilderness loving traveler. Check out Greenburn Lake or Bridge Trail park on the south island; or, try Community Park or Roe Lake on the north island. You can also access many areas of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, which has touchpoints on both island halves and spand across 15 islands total!

Mount Norman  

Mount Norman Park spans over 100 hectares of land covered by plains, forests, and mountain slopes. Mt Norman is actually a part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, as well. You can trek to the mountain summit (44 metres/800 feet) for an unparalleled view of the vistas and waters.

Kayak Rentals   

Pender Island is a great tourist spot for water sports like kayaking and canoeing. Check out Pender Island Kayak Adventure or Dog Mermaid Eco Excursions. These venues offer hosted tours, day trips, or DIY equipment rentals. Any waterway adventure has the potential to expose you to B.C. wildlife like eagles, sea otters, and whales.

The Hiking Trails   

Pender Island has plenty of hiking trails to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty and length. Do some research on the paths before you depart. You can try Beaumont Trail, Greenburn Lake Look Out, William Walker Trail, as well as smaller local hidden gems.

Pender Island Golf & Country Club  

Pender Island Golf & Country Club is very close to Otter Bay and has been in operation since 1945. This 9 hole public golf course is open year round and the property includes access to a well stocked golf shop and the El Faro lounge. You can also book golf lessons with trainers on site.

The Coffee Shops  

Pender Island shirks big chain venues in favour of small, locally owned cafes like Vanilla Leaf Bakery Cafe and Slow Coast Coffee. Wherever you are staying will have its secret spots and local favourites. Be sure to ask around or do a bit of online searching to see what’s around.

The Summer Markets   

Both North Pender Island and South Pender Island have their own major farmers’ markets. Up north, keep a look out for the aptly-named Farmer’s Market on Pender Island; down south, look for Nighthawk Farm Farmers’ Market. Both have a wide variety of local goods.

Breakaway Vacations Cottages

Big, sterile hotel chains are so blah. As a tourist hub, Pender Island offers visitors a broad choice of where they want to say. For example, a luxury lakeside vacation cottage with access to a pool, BBQs, outdoor seating, and firepits. Contact us at Breakaway Vacations and ask about Pender Island vacation rental availability for summer.  

What Pender Island attractions are you most excited for? Let us know so we can help you plan the perfect getaway.

Snow activities
Nov27

Don’t have a ski hill in your backyard? No problem! There are plenty of things to do when your yard gets a fresh layer of snow. Your neighborhood is probably rich with parks and nature areas, too, which can work if you don’t have your own yard. Coming up with some fun snow activities can keep the wintertime blues at bay.

  1. Build a Snowman

If you have enough snow on the ground, this is an obvious go-to winter activity. Instead of a regular old snowman, add ears or a tail or a beak and build a snow animal of your choice. See what odds and ends you can collect up off the ground—sticks and twigs, small rocks, pinecones and pine needles, whatever is around!

  1. Build an Igloo

This activity is perfect for families with small children, as yard-built igloos will be a perfect wintertime fort for them. There are also plenty of jobs to do, so everyone can participate in building an igloo: gather snow, shape bricks, stack bricks, and pack together the snow. Make the first “brick” slanted on one side in order to get a proper dome shape as you pile them up.

  1. Make Snow Angels

Everyone in the family can make an angel from eldest to youngest lined up in the snow. You can use twigs and rocks to draw on faces and even make crowns or halos using pine needles. Don’t forget to take pictures once you’re done!

  1. Go Sledding

Find a safe hill nearby and bring along a plastic sled or sled alternative (some people even just use plastic garbage bags, etc.). You’ll get some exercise carrying the sleds back up the hill each time, too. This is a great way to generate some body-warmth on chilly days.

  1. Paint with (non-toxic) Food Coloring

Add food coloring to cold water in spray bottles jars and use them to decorate the snow in the yard. Snow activities don’t get any easier than this (best done when there is freshly fallen powder). You can build models of flowers or animals and then use the “paint” to color them in.

Dreaming about summer already? Book your summer vacation rentals with us on Vancouver Island or the mainland NOW before they fill up. 

Healthy smoothies
Nov06

As the weather goes down, so does our body’s natural immunity. Wintertime tends to mean: being indoors more, where germs travel more easily; a lower body temperature, making you vulnerable; and germs get tougher as the weather gets chillier. That’s why you should try to incorporate vitamins and minerals into your diet that boost immunity and help keep you healthy! Smoothies are an easy way to do this. Here are a few nutrient-rich healthy smoothies to get you started:

  1. Citrus Immunity Boosting Smoothie Recipe

Citrus fruits have a ton of vitamin C so this recipe is a perfect, healthy smoothie choice. The vitamin C in citrus fruits are also proven to slow aging and prevent cancer. Oranges and mangoes are the primary ingredients, which is great because mandarin oranges are in season. Lime juice and coconut water finish this recipe off. With no yogurt or milk, it is also low calorie.

Full recipe here.

  1. C-Blast Smoothie

Pink grapefruit, pineapple, and strawberries are all packed with vitamin C. Because most fruit is out of season, feel free to sub in frozen or canned varieties where applicable. This blend included half-a-cup of non-fat Greek yogurt, too, which makes it more filling—perfect for breakfast or a midday snack to tide you over until dinner.

Full recipe here.

  1. Immune Boosting Winter Citrus Smoothie

Mangos, turmeric, ginger, a pinch of cayenne, oranges make the base of this rich, delicious wintertime favorite smoothie. Try swapping in blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, or mandarin oranges to change up the flavor a bit. You can even mix varieties in the same dish. This smoothie is perfect for winter blues, with plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Full recipe here.

  1. Superfood Power-Up Smoothie Cups

This smoothie cup contains coconut milk, oatmeal, raw honey, chia seeds, vanilla, quinoa, as well as an assortment of spices that you can modify based on what you have on hand. We suggest using turmeric, which is known to help control blood pressure and boost your body’s natural restorative properties.

Full recipe here.

What are your favourite healthy smoothies for wintertime? Let us know in the comments. Want to tap into some sweet, sweet Okanagan produce for your healthy smoothie recipes? Book your summer vacation plans with us now at Breakaway Vacations. We book up fast!

Stay fed, stay healthy.

 

BC Beer
Oct30

We talk a lot about wine on this blog. After all, B.C. is considered the “wine country” of Canada. Beer drinkers need not despair! We have plenty of craft breweries in the area, too. B.C. craft beer is rising in popularity, especially on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver proper. That means there is a ton our there for beer-lovers to try.

Autumn and winter come with their own flavours (think: dark beers, like stouts, and anything spiced). And B.C.-based breweries are more than accommodating to these seasonal tastes. Try any of these fall/winter season B.C. craft beers. You won’t regret it.

  1. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale

If you don’t already know, Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district in Vancouver, B.C. Granville Island Brewing was Canada’s first modern microbrewery. Their beers are ubiquitous across the province. You’ll have no problem finding the Lions Winter Ale, and more, at any local liquor store. The Lions Winter Ale has a vanilla-like flavour that pairs well with full-flavoured foods and cream-based sauces.

  1. Whistler Brewing Chestnut Ale

You can probably guess by the name, but Whistler Brewing is located in Whistler, British Columbia. This ski-resort-town is bustling with winter sports and year-round entertainment, including eateries and breweries. The chestnut ale is a spiced/herbed beer with a blend of caramel and crystal malts. It’s a “Warm you up from the inside out” kind of drink. The bold, nutty flavour will do well with any rich winter meal.

  1. Hoyne Dark Matter

Hoyne Brewing is located in Victoria, B.C., so if you are staying at one of our Parksville or Qualicum Beach vacation properties, a day trip for a tour is not out of the question. (It’s about a 2-hour drive away.) Dark Matter is a delicious stout-meets-brown-meets-porter. It’s a bit of an enigma, soft to sip with hints of chocolate. This is a beer for everyone, even those who tend to avoid darker brews.

  1. Nelson Brewing Co. Faceplant Winter Ale (Organic)

Nelson Brewing, located in, obviously, Nelson, has been a staple in the local community since 1991. They produce all nature, full-flavoured beers. They are certified organic, producing without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic engineering. The Faceplant winter Ale has hints of brown sugar and molasses. It’s sweet, malty, dark, and smooth.

  1. Driftwood Satori Harvest Fresh Hop IPA

Driftwood Brewing is located in Victoria, B.C. The Satori Harvest Fresh Hop IPA can only be brewed once a year when fresh Centennial hops are collected from Satori Cedar Ranch near Chilliwack. This IPA is hoppy, floral, piney, smooth, and grassy. Everything we love in a fall and winter season beer. It has a 7% ABV, so enjoy responsibly.

Find something you like thanks to this guide? Let us know in the comments! Want to visit some B.C. breweries first-hand? Ask us about our British Columbian vacation rentals.

Halloween events
Oct23

If you are visiting Vancouver Island this October there are plenty of things to do as Halloween grows near. These events are compiled with our Breakaway Vacation properties in Parksville and Qualicum Beach in mind but don’t forget to explore what goes on in other areas like Victoria, as well!

  1. Halloween Party & Masquerade Ball

If you don’t mind a short drive to Nanaimo then be sure to buy tickets for the annual Halloween Part and Masquerade Ball, hosted by the Serauxmen Service Club. Enjoy dancing, live music, and a best costume prize (solo and group).

Location: Nanaimo Curling Club (106 Wall Street)

  1. Pumpkins on the Drive

Wander along Resort Drive to see an assortment of pumpkins carved and decorated for the season. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up some candy and hot chocolate along the way!

Location: Resort Drive in Parksville

  1. Friends of Foster Park Pumpkin Walk

More pumpkins, what a surprise! Tour through hundreds of pumpkins carved by community youth. This event takes place every year and is free to attend. The walk is family-friendly with enough rooms for strollers.

Location: Foster Park, Parksville

  1. Errington’s Pumpkin Trail and Fireworks

Visit Errington’s Community Park with the whole family in costume (child-friendly event) and check out the props hidden along the trails. Treats will be handed out at different milestone locations. There is also a market site at the end where you can stock up on treats and drinks. Plus: fireworks!

Location: Errington’s Community Park

  1. Coombs Candy Walk

This is a Halloween event held every year. Visitors can enjoy a circus-themed candy walk, concession stands, a “Little Ghouls” haunted house, and fireworks later in the night. The event is by donation, so chip in what you can.

Location: 1014 Ford Road, Coombs

  1. Halloween in the Village

Located in the heart of Qualicum Beach, Halloween in the Village includes a pumpkin trail, hotdogs and other treats, a bonfire, and some nighttime fireworks. Check online for more details, as they sometimes have a haunted house (OR a family-friendly version) set up, as well.

Location: Downtown Qualicum Beach

  1. Halloween Howl Swim

Want something totally unique? Try the Halloween Howl Swim at the Ravensong Aquatic Centre. The Centre is always decorated for the occasion. Also, there will be games and activities for kids. The event closed off with a piñata bash, so be sure to stick around.

Location: Ravensong Aquatic Centre, Qualicum Beach

Not sure what you want to do to celebrate this Halloween with your family? Ask us about our vacation rentals on Vancouver Island!

wine pairing
Oct16

Everyone knows that British Columbia is Canada’s wine region. BC wine is a must-try when you are visiting the area. Vineyards may not be open this late into the year but you can expect any local venues to be stocked up with wine from around the area. Here are just a few ideas of what types of wine and food pairings to try.

Savory Squash + Pinot Gris

Squash is in season so you will probably be able to find it on many-a-menu these days. Any savory squash meal should pair well with Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is rich and spicy and quite popular in B.C. so you’ll find it everywhere. It pairs well with the rich creaminess of squash-based meals (think: pasta, warm salad, or soups).

Meat and Potatoes + Rioja

Steak and potatoes. Sausage and potatoes. Red meat stew. These are perfect cold-weather meals because they fill you up and make you feel warm and cozy as the nights get chilly. Try pairing these meals with a Rioja, which is a deep, leathery red with hints of cherry. Want it sweeter? Open a newer bottle. For more savory, pick a Rioja that has been aged.

Apple Cinnamon + Riesling

Cinnamon will be making a grand appearance in a big way in many desserts and even breakfast/bunches. You might find it with apple or pumpkin, which are in season. But what wine goes best with apple cinnamon tarts after a long day? Try Riesling, which is equal parts sweet and acidic—a perfect counterpart.

Turkey Leftovers + Grenache Rosé

If you’ve already celebrated (Canadian) Thanksgiving, you most likely have a fridge packed full of delicious turkey leftovers. You might be finding yourself adding it to everything: soups, salads, sandwiches. How about accenting the inevitable turkey overdose with some nice Grenache Rosé? The ruby rose colour and heightened acidity make it a great fall pairing.

Vegetable Stew + Pinot Noir

Vegetable stew is great to make in bulk and freeze or refrigerate for easy fall meals. Pack it full of lentils, mushrooms, carrots, potato, corn, and anything else you desire. Vegetarian stew lasts longer in the fridge than meat-based counterparts so you don’t have to worry about rushing through it. Pinot Noir is so food-friendly it goes with nearly anything but it will keep this particular meal company with it’s rich fruity character.

Lamb + Zinfandel

Thinking about ordering rack of lamb for a luscious, fall meal? Try pairing lamb-based recipes with Zinfandel, which is a perfect fall wine that also goes great with sweet potatoes. Zinfandel has hints of dark fruit and a smoky zest but you can also find earthier varieties.

No matter what you are eating, you will be able to find a BC wine to match. That’s because there are so many varieties to play with. Wine lovers rejoice.

Looking for a fantastic Fall getaway? Contact us and ask about our vacation properties here in beautiful British Columbia.

Packing tips
Oct03

Who doesn’t love a peaceful winter weekend vacation away from home? Or, you probably have plans to travel for holidays coming up: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and so on. If you are traveling to the Kelowna area or Vancouver Island, be sure to check out our vacation homes.

Pack More Socks than you Think You Need.

It’s cold out…but not always. Fall tends to flip-flop between balmy sunny days and chilly winter storms. That means a lot of moisture and mush on the streets, sidewalks, and in the parks. That means you might have to swap out soggy socks mid-day for a fresh pair. Not to mention that on the chilliest of days, you might want to wear two pairs in your boots, particularly if you like autumn hiking.

Pack Waterproof Footwear.

To prevent the above scenario, you could also just make sure to pack shoes or boots that prevent slush and moisture from leaking in. They should be something you can see yourself wearing on a warm day as well as a cooler one, as fall tends to flip-flop. One of the best packing tips is to bring appropriate footwear for your destination.

Pack a Portable Battery Charger.

Autumn can be warm at times but don’t let that deceive you. Getting stuck somewhere when the sun goes down will be unpleasant, even on the warmest days. You should always have a charged phone in case you need to call a friend or a cab if you get stranded or need a ride. That’s why packing a portable charger is a good idea, especially if you are on your phone a lot or it has an older battery that is prone to dying.

Pack a Neutral Scarf.

Scarves take up a lot of room in a bag and can be uncomfortable to wear if you are too warm. You probably won’t want to haul around more than one so make sure you pick one in a neutral colour like black, brown, beige, or grey that goes with everything and anything you might be wearing.

Pack a Tablet or Smart Reader.

Fall weather can be unpredictable. You might get anything from rain or hail or sun or snow. If there are days that you can’t go outside, you’ll want enough entertainment to get you by. A smart reader is a great way to pack every book you’ve been meaning to read without taking up much space in an overnight bag.

Pack Sunscreen.

You may be bundled from head-to-toe on a chilly day but that doesn’t mean the sun can’t reach delicate areas like your face, neck, and hands. Even on overcast days, the UV rays can get through, and sometimes clouds even amplify their strength. This is important if you’re skiing or snowboarding, too, to avoid picking up a goggle tan.

Bonus tip: Are you struggling to get your packing list together? Try a packing app! There are plenty of travel-based apps meant o simplify your vacation for you.

Haven’t picked a fall trip for yourself yet? Consider staying at one of our beautiful vacation rental properties in B.C. Contact us for more details.

BC Wine
Aug26

If you are travelling B.C. this summer, you will undoubtedly be drawn to the expansive vineyards. Not only are they stunning to behold but they produce delicious wines of every flavor and variety. Any vacation trip to B.C. would do well with some samples of the local wineries. Many visitors arrange wine tours during their stay. (Ask us if you are staying with us and in need of recommendations!)

In honour of all the great B.C. wineries and orchards, here are just a few of our favorite B.C. wines:

1. Family Reserve Chardonnay

From: Quails’ Gate Stewart in Okanagan Valley, BC

This tropical and balanced wine pairs well with any pork-centric meal. It won a bronze medal in the 2019 San Francisco International Wine Competition, among other notable achievements. This Chardonnay is refreshing, golden, and smooth with a fruity essence.

2. Red Icon, Bordeaux Blend

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

A red Bordeaux blend usually has Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in it. Bold and structured, this wine pairs well with beef and/or venison meals. Darkly colored and rich in flavor, many red Bordeaux are likened to dark fruits like plum and blackcurrant.

3. Syrah

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape known for floral flavors in its youth and more peppery flavors as it ages. It pairs well with BBQ (think: spareribs and grilled veggies), braised beef, and aged hard cheeses. Fun fact: It’s only called “Shiraz” if it’s from Australia.

4.  ‘Portfolio’ Red, Bordeaux Blend

From: Laughing Stock Vineyards in Okanagan Valley, BC

Laughing Stock Vineyards is located in the beachy city of Penticton, B.C. This red pairs well with heavy, fatty, and spicier steaks and lamb. We’re sensing a theme here. Routinely wins top accolades from wine competitions and wine critics alike: a proven chart-topper.

5. Reserve Riesling Icewine

From: Mission Hill Family Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

An ultra-sweet icewine with tons of tropical fruit flavours, like citrus and apricot. Don’t worry, citrus-infused acidity keeps it balanced. It will pair perfectly with berry-centric desserts so be sure to stick around for an after-dinner snack.

We hope this guide will help you sample the best wine of B.C.

If you in the area visiting and need a cozy vacation rental, be sure to contact us. Our staff would be happy to help you find the right fit.