Sometimes you just want a personalized tour around your own itinerary and interests with the added benefit of a knowledgable local who can take you to any destination or activity you’d like at anytime you’re ready.
We decided to add a customized one day private tour to our last trip in Vancouver B.C. during the Spring of 2018. There were a few places we just wanted to visit at our own leisure and enjoy our privacy. We hired Alfred Esmeijer, owner and operator of A.E. Vancouver Private Tours.
“O Canada” is the national anthem of Canada and for great reasons. The incredible landscapes and vistas that we saw in and around Vancouver B.C. will take your breath away. We’ve been to Canada several times to see the various areas of Vancouver and surrounding sites.
- PRIVATE TOUR NAME/OPERATOR: Create your own private tour with A.E. Vancouver Private Tours.
- PRICE: CA$115 per hour (not person) in Luxe SUV up to 5 passengers with a minimum of 3 hours required. CA$125 CAD per hour if you need a Van for up to 14 people.
- TYPE: Private
- TOUR TIME: As needed but 3 hour minimum required. Our custom tour was about 7 hours.
HOT TIP: Prices are quoted in (CA$) Canadian Dollars so it’s actually a lot cheaper when converted to USD at approximately 25% less on average! Check the conversion rates by simply googling “USD to Canadian Dollars,” as currency exchanges fluctuate. This works with any currency.Travoodie Queen
Our Private Custom Tour
Our private custom tour was about 7 hours round trip for the places we wanted to see. Our host, Alfred, picked us up from our hotel at the Pan Pacific in downtown Vancouver after breakfast around 10am. We’re not early risers on vacation and like to ease into our day. What’s fantastic about a personal tour is we get to set the time we wanted to be picked up.
We wanted to see the following places:
- Sea to Sky Gondola Ride in Squamish
- Shannon Falls Provincial Park
- Lunch at Whistler
- Porteau Cove
Alfred greeted us in the lobby of our hotel and prepared us for our day. He had bottles of water available if we were ever thirsty. He picked us up in a GMC Yukon XL Denali that looked brand new. It was very clean inside and out with plenty of room to relax.
1. Sea to Sky Gondola Ride in Squamish
Our first stop was to the Sea To Sky Gondola Ride in Squamish. It’s almost an hour away from our downtown Vancouver hotel. On the way there, Alfred talked about Vancouver and had small talk with us. He’s very funny.
I was really excited to take the Gondola Ride because of the incredible views and hiking opportunity in the nearby Provincial Park. The gondola was built for those that do not hike or climb but can still enjoy the majestic beauty of the rainforest and mountains.
The gondolas were built in Switzerland for the best floor-to-ceiling vistas you can have. The cabins themselves are spacious and comfortable too. The ride itself is 10 minutes long both ways. At the summit, we saw lodging and restaurants for visitors. In the Summer time, there’s also outdoor exercise classes available.
FUN TIP: The gondolas were made in Switzerland and built with floor-to-ceiling glass windows for eye-popping views of rainforests, sounds, and mountains!Travoodie Queen
Hours and Pricing
- Currently closed due to Covid, TBD
- Normal Hours are daily 10am-6pm and 10am -8pm on weekends
- Prices: Online is cheaper than at the window. Both shown below
- Adults CA$45-48
- Seniors CA$41-44
- Youth CA$27-30
- Child CA$15-18
- Under 5 years are Free
- Website and Info to the Sea to Sky Attractions here
Take a ride with us in the Gondola and enjoy the views!
The Summit and Suspension Bridge
When we reached the Summit, we saw a lot of activity. There was a beautiful Summit Lodge 9,000 sqft large where you can eat, drink, buy a souvenir, and enjoy the views. We didn’t eat here, but the menu looked inviting with healthy fare foods. There was both indoor and outdoor seating. Highly recommend the outdoor seating if it’s warm for the dramatic surrounding views.
At the Summit, we walked the suspension bridge and took advantage of the viewing platforms that gifted breathtaking 360 views of nature. The Howe Sound looked spectacular. There was also plenty of hiking information and directions to trails.
2. Shannon Falls Provincial Park
After visiting the Summit, we took the Gondola back down to the basecamp. From there , it was just a short walk to Shannon Falls Provincial Park where we took a hike. The main draw at the park is the Shannon Falls waterfall. It is 335 meters or 1,099 feet tall, making it the third tallest waterfall in British Colombia. It’s very large that it can be seen driving on Highway 99.
FUN FACT: Shannon Falls waterfall is the 3rd largest waterfall in British Columbia.
3. Lunch in Whistler
After the hike, we were hungry. I wanted to see Whistler and have a late lunch there. It was over a half an hour drive away which was perfect to rest up. The town is known for snow boarding and skiing, and happens to be pretty posh too. We just walked around and found a wonderful foodie restaurant called Basalt.
FUN FACT: Did you know Whistler was a venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics?
Canada finished first in gold medal wins and became the first host nation since Norway in 1952 to lead the gold medal count, with 14.Wikipedia.Org
The food in Vancouver is extremely competitive and it’s no different in the outskirts. Whistler is about 90 minutes away from downtown Vancouver but the food is just as awesome. Most restaurants naturally source their foods and you’ll find more local places here versus nationalized chain restaurants.
If you ever go to Basalt, they have delicious charcuterie boards full of yummy meats, spreads, and cheeses. I tried the foi gras and needed more of their delicious house-made crostini- the spread was so good. The burgers were also awesome per my hubby. I actually had their Chicken Pot Pie with a garden salad that was fantastic. The killer Brownie Sundae with pretzels was the perfect happy ending to our lunch.
If you are ever in the Whistler Village, you have got to try Basalt out! Check out their latest menu here.
After a fantastic lunch, we were well satiated and ready to walk it off. Whistler is so charming with it’s chalet-style pedestrian village. We enjoyed walking around admiring the architecture, mountains, and shopping. There were plenty of snow boarders and skiers casually walking around even in April while we were there. The real estate is prime including the accommodations. Next time we would like to stay at the Four Seasons in Whistler.
4. Porteau Cove
After our time in Whistler, it was time to head back to our hotel. Our host was waiting for us and we were headed back to downtown Vancouver. One of the benefits of having a private host is that they can share “in the know” suggestions that visitors may not heard of. I did not know about Porteau Cove until he mentioned something about it and interested me to make the stop. It was a wonderful scenic spot to really appreciate the beauty of Canada.
Porteau Cove is part of Provincial Park where we saw the Shannon Falls waterfall. Since it was on the way back from Whistler, our host suggested we do not miss the evening sun. The Cove is located right on the Howe Sound. We saw it earlier from the mountain tops, but being right next to it felt so serene. We almost had the place to ourselves and just enjoyed the vast views.
C’est La Fin
A bonus about having a local host on a private tour are the extra Instagrammable spots they let you in on. The Porteau Cove was a great suggestion from Alfred that I otherwise would have missed and he took us to some other spots too just for pics and such. The little bit of extra time was complimentary and we appreciated it!
The custom tour was a perfect day for us because we were in control of everything. We didn’t have to rush or wait for anyone and our host was always standing by. If we wanted to change course, leave early or later at a place- we just let Alfred know. He was also very knowledgable about the history, culture, and nuances of each area which came in handy.
If you want a completely customized itinerary, Alfred can help you build one or make suggestions. There are suggested itineraries and activities on his website that you can modify or build your own from scratch. He’s also well connected to the Vancouver community if your concierge can’t get you something.
Hope you enjoyed this post and helps you plan for your next trip to Vancouver B.C.!
What an awesome tour! I love how it was personalized. Your photos are awesome and the suspension bridge reminds me of the one in Gatlinburg, TN.
Hera, I LOVE your photos! The Suspension Bridge looks so amazing (albeit, a little scary, too!) and I love your lunch choices in Whistler – foie gras with fig compote is my love language. Great post; can’t wait to visit Vancouver and the surrounding area some day!
I couldn’t agree with you more; “O, Canada” is right! I remember going to Canada when I was around 10-12 and just being in awe of it’s beauty. I think this would be a great trip to take the whole family on. And I love the idea of a private tour!
The Gondola looks wonderful. That is an activity that I would enjoy.
I love this idea of creating the tour you want! I’ve yet to visit Canada but I want to!
I’ve always wanted to explore more of Vancouver than just a long layover. I would have had the chance last month had it not been for the pandemic lockdown. This is a great itinerary for a day. I’ll keep this in mind if & when its safe & open to travel again. Love your photos!
What stunning views! I don’t know if I could get on that suspension bridge though. Haha. Doesn’t look secure enough for me. But my kids would love it!
It’s super secure, just don’t look down, lol!
Stunning photos! I will definitely look into hiring this tour guide when we visit. I love private and semi-private tours from locals as it allows you to ask more questions and they have so much native knowledge, history and off-the-beaten-path recommendations.
You’ll love Alfred, he was fantastic!
This looks so awesome. We were supposed to get here on a cruise but due to weather we could not even disembark. Hopefully we get back there!
The views looks amazing. I want to go to Ontario for my family history. 😀
Wow, that scenery is gorgeous! And I think I need that pot pie. Apparently, I’ve been to Canada, but I was two years old and don’t remember it. I need to go back with my family!
You can’t go wrong in Whistler or that pot pie!
I love Vancouver! I’ve been there hundreds of time and I’ve actually never been to Squamish. I will have to go next time.
I love how you used French in some of your titles. It’s funny to me because I’m from Montreal and Vancouver is not French at all. But I know it may feel like that for many who are not Canadian. I just found it interesting.
That’s interesting, all over Vancouver and the airport has French & Chinese directions to accommodate the populations, lol! I’m part French so I tend to include a bit of French into my writing
This looks like the perfect itinerary! I’m saving for future reference, as Vancouver is on my shortlist of travel destinations.
We have talked about going on a girls trip to Vancouver, I think we need to after seeing these pics!
You ladies will love it!
Wow! All these places and foods look amazing! I’ve been wanting to go to Vancouver for years. The chalet-style village reminds me a bit of Vail.
I lived in Vancouver for ten years and loved going to all the spots you listed. Porteau Cove is such a gem and I love Whistler more during their shoulder seasons than in winter! Hiring a driver would be such a relaxing way to do this. Will make a note of the tour company next time I want to feel like tourist in my beloved city!
Oh nine, you’re from a gorgeous area and we loved visiting your home!
I want to save this itinerary and follow it exactly! It looks perfect!! Vancouver has piqued my interest lately.
You’ll love it when it’s warm to hike and also in the cold if you love skiing!