1. Explore one thousand islands
Quebec’s Mingan Archipelago is a sight to behold — or rather, one thousand sights. Formed by glaciers, wind, and waves, these islands are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Spot whales, seals, puffins, and more from land or take to the sea by boat or kayak. If you just can’t get enough, you can also camp for a few days and take time to explore everything from cliffs and caves to arches and rocky limestone sentinels.
2. See North America’s most impressive waterfall
A list of Canada’s natural wonders without Niagara Falls wouldn’t be much of a list. Take in the splendor of the mighty waterfalls with this view from the north or get up close and personal by boat. Though two of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls lie on the US side of the border, the view from Canada definitely takes the cake.
3. Discover where dinosaurs once walked
“Life, uh, finds a way…” Located in the heart of Alberta’s badlands, Dinosaur Provincial Park is no Jurassic Park, but it is one of the world’s largest dinosaur graveyards. With over 500 fossils dating from the Age of Reptiles, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the perfect place for science (and science fiction) buffs as well as nature enthusiasts. Some lingo to drop when you’re in the area: those tall spires of rock are called hoodoos. You heard it here first.
4. Roam the Canadian Rockies
Crazy clear turquoise water? Check. Snow-capped mountains? Check. Unblemished wilderness? Welcome to the Canadian Rockies. From Alberta’s southwestern border all the way north into British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies comprise one giant UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to national parks, scenic roadways, and ample opportunities for adventure, you can spend a few days or several weeks soaking up the natural splendor. Sounds good, eh?
5. Journey to a secret archipelago
Nicknamed the Galapagos of the North, Haida Gwaii is located off British Columbia’s west coast and is home to indigenous people of the same name. While not strictly “secret,” the national park reserve in Haida Gwaii doesn’t get too many visitors due to its remote location. It’s worth it, though — magical terrain and temperate rainforests dominate the landscape. If you decide to make the journey, prepare in advance: the park can only be reached by boat, kayak, or seaplane.
6. Go whale watching in Victoria
Leave land behind and hop aboard a covered boat on a 3-hour cruise from Victoria. Discover different species of whale in their natural environment and marvel at seabirds and other marine life as your chug along at 30 knots. Later, slow down in the protected waters of the Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and learn about wildlife from the marine naturalists.
7. Take a scenic road trip
Not everything has to be a hike (unless you want it to be). Cue up your playlist and roll down the windows: it’s time to drive along the Cabot Trail. This winding roadway will take you around the greater part of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island and is one of the most famous drives in Canada for a reason. Set aside a few days for your trip and enjoy scenic overlooks of soaring cliffs, deep valleys, and lush forests.
8. Whitewater raft in Alberta
If it’s an adrenaline rush you’re after, whitewater rafting in Jasper National Park is just the ticket. The park is the largest of its kind in the Canadian Rockies and internationally renowned for hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing (watch out for bears and moose!). Head to the rapids and soak up the scenery — and most likely, the water.