Having ranked in the top 10 of the most ethical places in the world, Canada is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are also kind to the planet.
British Columbia, located in western Canada, is one of the world’s favourite tourist spots. It offers an experience for pretty much every kind of traveller, complete with wild coastline, sandy beaches, expansive forests, desert plains, and epic mountains packed into almost 1 million square kilometers of pure Canadian beauty.
And what if we told you that you could experience all this in an ethical, sustainable way?
We’ve counted down some of the most exciting adventures you can have in BC, all of which have an environmentally-friendly approach. Check out thrilling tours, secret getaways, and culinary delights that are both good for your soul and good for the planet.
Unforgettable ethical tours in BC
There’s a lot of ground to cover in British Columbia, and luckily there are plenty of experienced and enthusiastic guides that are willing to introduce you to the wild.
Adrenaline-pumping action: Lardeau River Adventure
Spike your adrenaline and experience what’s behind the scenes in the Rocky Mountains with Lardeau River Adventures. Run by husband and wife team Oliver Hopwood and Tamara Henry, it’s an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart of British Columbia’s wilderness. As Oliver told us, it’s an unparalleled way to experience the local environment:
“Lardeau River Adventures offers a first-class, wilderness rafting trip in the majestic Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia. Explore this wild mountain valley and free-flowing crystal clear river, home to bald eagles, kokanee salmon and grizzly bears. Our staff are highly qualified and experienced at delivering superlative small group, personalized adventures!”
As you raft through the wilderness, the professional guides (who are qualified in natural and biological sciences) can help you understand the vital role that the river plays in this incredible ecosystem.
Explore the Island your way: Cove Adventure Tours
If you’re looking for a safe, sustainable way to immerse yourself in Vancouver Island’s wild terrain, check out Cove Adventure Tours. Led by expert guides who know the land like the back of their hand, you can hike through old growth forests, relax on remote beaches, and check out the wonders in the tidal pools of San Josef bay.
“Our company was started by a group of friends who love our local wilderness areas, so when we bring our groups to the places we have played in for years, it’s important for us to inspire them to make a difference in their own special places,” Chris, one of the founders, told us.
“We bring bags to do impromptu beach cleans as we wander around and look at all the wildlife and the tide pools, and some people get really into it. We hope they take that eagerness to participate on all of their adventures since a lot of spaces can use that community level of help.”
A rare and delicate tour: The Desert Centre
Visit The Desert Centre, located in Osoyoos, a town in BC’s Okanagan Valley. Nicknamed Canada’s ‘pocket desert’, the area consists of 67 acres of rare, endangered, and uniquely beautiful shrub-grassland.
Operated by the non-profit Osoyoos Desert Society, you can trek across 1.5km worth of boardwalk and get up close to this fragile ecosystem, learning about the fascinating ecology and local restoration and conservation efforts.
Sustainable accommodation in out-of-this-world locations
From rustic campsites to luxury hotels, Vancouver is brimming with outstanding places to rest your head. If you’re looking for a place to stay that offers an unforgettable experience, check out some of our favourite eco-hotels.
A private island experience: Cabana Desolation Eco Resort
It takes something special to even get to Cabana Desolation Eco Resort – located on Kinghorn Island off BC’s Sunshine Coast, you have the choice of kayaking over or booking yourself onto the resort’s private boat service. Once you arrive, you’ll be truly immersed in the soul of the island.
Owner Adam Vallance designed and built the resort to be as sustainable as possible, using locally-sourced materials and reusable energy:
“At Cabana Desolation Eco Resort I endeavoured to create a unique establishment where guests could both comfortably and sustainably connect with nature. All structures and most furniture were hand-built using locally milled western red cedar and douglas fir.
“We are 100% off-grid, with the sun providing all our electricity needs – including LED lighting and kitchen appliances. Unique systems were developed for composting grey water and then using this in our on-site garden plots. Adding to this is a gravity-pressured freshwater system from a natural spring, on-demand hot water showers, and thoughtful service from staff who live and contribute locally.”
Enter a whole new world in Bella Coola: Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
Situated deep in the Great Bear Rainforest, staying at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is a magical experience. Surrounded by acres of lush forest, you’re bound to connect to the true Canadian spirit – get inspired on a nature hike, spot the local residents on a grizzly bear tour, and try your hand at fishing on the epic lake.
The hotel is run on sustainable practices, which include composting as much waste as possible, using efficient appliances, sourcing water from a local well, and banning pesticides, ensuring the lodge is harmonious with the local environment.
Find your inner mountaineer: Nipika Mountain Resort
Feel both humbled and invigorated by the majesty of the Rockies at Nipika Mountain Resort, located in Kootenay National Park. Designed with an eco-friendly approach at its heart, the resort runs on solar renewable energy, with heat and hot water powered by dead wood that has been salvaged locally and burned in a central boiler.
Outside the resort’s beautiful walls, you can indulge in a true Rocky Mountain experience, with activities like hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking right on your doorstep. The resort is also pet friendly – you can even bring your horse along for the adventure!
The authentic flavours of BC
Canada might be known for poutine and maple syrup, but in BC it’s all about healthy, whole foods that have been sourced fresh from the land (or sea). In Vancouver, you’ll find endless dining opportunities, but some have an eco-friendly twist that elevates them beyond the rest.
Atrue Vancouver institution: Aphrodite’s Café and Pie shop
Founded in 2003 by Allan Christian and now run by his daughter, Peggy, Aphrodite’s Café and Pie shop is part of Vancouver’s old soul and represents the family-centric and community-minded values that the define the city.
Located at Dunbar and 4thin the city’s Kistilano district, Peggy says Aphrodite’s has been about health and wellness from the very beginning:“my dad was living on an organic farm, which is what led to him becoming an entrepreneur and opening up the pie shop. He had access to all these amazing fruits and vegetables, and the neighbourhood was calling out for a restaurant – so he filled the void.
“He’d bring in fresh vegetables daily and create the menu based on what was in season. Having lived on a farm, he wanted to support local producers and eliminate the middleman to make it easier for farmers to run their businesses. That spirit has stuck with us, and we work with local producers to this day, with ingredients delivered straight from the farms to our back door!
“One of our cornerstones is that we are all organic – and I think very few restaurants in Vancouver, or anywhere, have the same level of commitment. We are one, small independent restaurant committed to local, organic farming. It’s a social enterprise, doing what we can for the environment, which is so important right now.”
More than just a menu: Forage
At Forage, which is located on Robson Street in Vanvouer’s West End, mealtime isn’t just about the food, but about creating a wholesome, communal feel. The menu is designed for sharing, and dishes are built based on ingredients sourced from local suppliers, allowing head chef Welbert Choi to create an offering that truly reflects the culture of BC.
As general manager Margo Baloro says, sustainability has been a priority from the very start:
“We have been zero waste since the beginning, having just completed our 13th inventory of Climate Smart certification. We work with foragers who are always sure to only take what they need, and steward their foraging areas. “We also have a 100% BC wine list. Some of those wines are on tap, reducing the gas spent in bringing it from the Okanagan, and a lot fewer glass bottles being used. We continue to push ourselves to find the most sustainable options at every level of our operation, and challenge other restaurants to follow suit.”
Plant-based pizza that everyone loves: Virtuous Pie
Famed for winning over even the most begrudging non-vegans, Virtuous Pie is one of Vancouver’s favourite places to grab a delicious slice of vegan pizza, followed by a scoop (or two) of equally vegan ice cream. In fact, the entire menu is plant-based and full of innovative and creative options.
With two locations in Vancouver (one at UBC and one in Chinatown), Virtuous Pie injects a community-centric approach into each of its establishments. The restaurants incorporate work from local artists, and a percentage of proceeds are donated to charities within the city. The packaging is also made from sustainable materials and the dough, cheese, and ice cream are handcrafted in house for a truly authentic flavour.
Whether you want to lose yourself (figuratively speaking) in the wilderness or find your new favourite food in the big city, there are plenty of life-changing and ethical ways to experience the true character of British Columbia.