Being the world’s second-largest country with an area of close to 10 million sq. km, it comes as no surprise that there’s a lot more to Canada than just maple syrup, freezing cold winters, hockey, and Vancouver.
From archipelagos to undiscovered beaches and beautiful islands, there are places that you’ll not find in a typical Canada handbook.
If you’re planning a holiday to Canada, give up on the symbolic tourist attitude as we’re going to uncover 9 secret spots that locals want to keep for themselves.
1. Haida Gwaii
The Queen Charlotte Islands, or the Islands of the People as locals call it, Haida Gwaii is a hidden archipelago located off the coast of British Colombia. These secret islands are steeped in history and culture. The remains of the historic totem poles and longhouses are an alluring reminder of the rich customs and traditions the place subsumes. If you admire natural beauty and tranquility, Haida Gwaii is the place to have on your list.
How to reach: You can get to Haida Gwaii by air or ferry. Air Canada and Pacific Coastal Airlines provide year-round flights from the Vancouver International Airport to Gaida Hwaii. If you prefer ferries, you can book a ferry with BC Ferries. The ferry takes you from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. From Prince Rupert, you can change take another ferry to Skidegate. The entire trip takes around 15 hours.
2. Carter’s Beach
Long Beach, Kitsilano Beach, Grand Beach, and more, there are a lot of exciting beaches in Canada. But out of the country’s most beautiful beaches, Carter’s Beach stands out. The beach is uncommercialized, and thus, is unspoiled and undiscovered by many tourists.
Also known as the Cape Cod of the 70s, the Carter’s Beach is also the home to various at-risk flora and fauna species in Atlantic Canada.
Some key attractions of Carter’s Beach include sand dollars, herons, greater yellowlegs, and dowitchers.
How to reach: There’s not much information about how you can reach Carter’s beach. What’s known is that the nearest major airport to the beach is the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
3. Lewis Hills
If you’re visiting Newfoundland and the Gros Morne National Park, make sure to hike along the Lewis Hills trail located nearby. It is a section of Long Range Mountains located along the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. If stunning views of hills, deep valleys, and the sea excite you, the Lewis Hills is worth taking a hike to. Besides, the Lewis Hills is an excellent backcountry wilderness hiking destination, too.
How to reach: The International Appalachian Trail is the easiest and most-accessible day hiking route to the Lewis Hills. The route in itself is famous for its stunning views of hills, deep valleys, and peridotite mountain range. Also, St. John’s International Airport is the nearest major airport.
4. Axel Heiberg Island
The second-northernmost island of Canada, the Axel Heiberg Island is located just over 1,200 km from the North Pole. And many locals and travelers also regard it as one of the most beautiful areas of the country.
This island is home to multiple coastal bays, fjords, and the Princess Margaret mountain range. This hidden gem is also famous for the Fossil Forest. It is located on the eastern side of the island and consists of mummified tree stumps, which some people believe to be over 45 million years old.
Alligator and turtle fossils, tooth fragments from extinct rhinoceros-like mammals were also discovered in the Fossil Forest. So, whether you’re about snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and enchanting views, or history and archeology, make an effort to plan a trip here.
How to reach: There are flights to the Axel Heiberg Island from various airports in Canada. The nearest major airport to the island is the Iqaluit Airport.
5. Shogomoc River Pedestrian Bridge
If you’re planning a trip to eastern Canada, it’s better if you add the province of New Brunswick to your list, too. The St. John River passes through the province before emptying into the Bay of Fundy. Towards the west of the river in Canterbury, the river meets the Shogomoc Stream. There, you’ll find a striking, 265-foot suspension bridge, the Shogomoc River Pedestrian Bridge. The area is a famous picnic and fishing spot for locals. When the weather is pleasant, a lot of families stop by the bridge for relaxing and lunch.
How to reach: Saint John Airport is the nearest airport to Canterbury. From there, you can get a bus or taxi to reach the bridge.
6. International Peace Garden
If you’re a practitioner of peace, then you must visit the International Peace Garden. Located on the US-Canada border between the province of Manitoba and the state of North Dakota, this garden was established in 1932 as a symbol of peace between Canada and the U.S.
In the center of the garden, you’ll find the 120-feet long International Peace Tower. This garden also embodies a plethora of fascinating attractions, such as the Peace Chapel and the North American Game Warden Museum. The International Peace Garden is open year-round, and you can visit it at any time of the year.
How to reach: You can take the MB 10 highway to reach the park. Visitors are free to move throughout the park and cross international borders passing through any customs. Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport is the nearest major airport.
7. Mountain Wave
Do you like surfing? It is an activity you are most likely to try on a tropical beach. But this hidden gem in Alberta allows you to surf up in the snow-covered mountains on a river fed by glacier water. Located in the landlocked Kanansakis Provincial Park in Alberta, this place is a must-visit for you if you have a knack of surfing.
How to reach: The surf spot is an hour’s drive away from both Calgary and Banff, with Calgary International Airport being the nearest major airport.
8. Witless Bay Ecological Reserve
Canada is home to a lot of stunning national parks, like Jasper and Banff. However, Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is a hidden gem in Newfoundland and Labrador that often gets overlooked.
What makes this reserve special is its natural build-up. It’s made of four small islands that are home to millions of seabirds during summer. Besides, you’ll also find whales like minkes and humpbacks. You can also spot unique rock formations and icebergs in the area.
How to reach: St. John’s is the nearest city to the reserve. It is well-connected to other parts of the country, and you can easily reach the city by road or air. St. John’s International Airport is the nearest major airport.
9. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
We’ve seen a lot of snow and sand, so now let’s move indoors. If you’re a bibliophile or an admirer of historic spots, don’t miss out on this rare book library located at the University of Toronto.
The library is home to hundreds of thousands of incredibly rare books. And yes, you can even touch some of them. Its 700,000 volumes of manuscripts consist of Charles Darwin’s original work, Shakespeare’s historical paintings, and Alice in Wonderland editions. Besides, the library puts on special exhibits every month that could help you decide which writings to explore.
How to reach: Since it is located in the city of Toronto, it’s easy to reach. You can take a cab from anywhere in the city for the University of Toronto. Toronto Pearson International Airport is the nearest major airport.
With more than 20 million annual visitors, Canada is the third-most visited country in the Americas, second only to the U.S. and Mexico. However, most people who visit this country of hidden gems stick to the standard attractions, such as CN Tower, Stanley Park, and Jasper National Park. While these places are worth visiting, too, don’t be a typical tourist, and dig deep into some less-traveled destinations.