As I sat on one of the benches looking out over the water, listening to the wakes of boats and jet skis breaking over the pebbles on the beach, I suddenly had to catch my breath.
I’ve spent the better part of my life in this area, been to this exact spot a hundred times, and for the first time I was actually seeing it all. The mountains were reaching for the sky, covered in almost every shade of green imaginable, and watching the light dance off the water it was then I realized how lucky I was to be experiencing that moment. Without a doubt, southern British Columbia has a scenery that is truly inimitable.
Practically a stones throw away from the densely crowded streets of Vancouver, there is a lush greenspace and a few hidden gems in the Cultus Lake Park and surrounding area. Located between Chilliwack and Yarrow you will find yourself at the Columbia Valley Highway. After a short 3-5 minute drive you will cross the bridge that leads you to your new summer getaway spot.
On The Beach and Beyond
To truly witness first hand the serene landscape of British Columbia, the first section, aptly named Main Beach, is where your journey begins. Though this is where the journey also ends for most people, if you break away from the tourist crowd and continue down the highway, you’ll reach Sunnyside Campground and Entrance Bay where there are camping spots right on the lakeside, giving you a view that most people only dream of waking up to in the morning.
The provincial park is less often met by the tourist population, and is the perfect place to set up a barbeque and hang out for the day. For those looking for a little adventure and willing to go that extra mile, continue further on to Lindell Avenue.
Take a right and make your way to the end of the street, where you can slip past the residential houses to the secluded (and private) Lindell Beach, which is home to a spot known only by few outsiders but all the locals, the famous (or infamous, depending on your experience) cliff diving spot and rope swing. These sentries range from a 25 foot dive to a nerve-wracking 40-45 feet that only the most experienced divers and swimmers should attempt. The rope swing rests at the foot of the cliffs.
The Water Park Experience
The Cultus Lake Waterpark has gone through a lot of major changes in the last few years, and it’s become one of the main attractions in the Main Beach area. It is the biggest and most extensive water park in the entire province, and with 14 attractions there is something for everyone. If you’re an adrenaline junky, the free fall slide is the one for you. A 72 foot drop, you reach speeds upwards of over 60km (37.2mi) per hour before coming to a grinding halt at the bottom. This guarantees quite the wedgie! There’s also the Zero to 60 Raceway, which pits you against others in a dash to the bottom, as well as the Valley of Fear, a tube ride that takes up to three people and shoots them down a vertical half pipe.
If the fast attractions just aren’t your thing and are more interested in having a relaxing afternoon, you will undoubtedly take advantage of the lazy river, which you can lounge in with a tube for as long as you like. For those travelling with children, the Pirate’s Cove and Turtle Slide swimming areas for toddlers and youngsters make supervision a breeze.
Grab a Bite
Across the street from the Cultus Lake Waterpark in the Cultus plaza, you will find a variety of dining options. Sora Sushi & Teriyaki is the local sushi bar, serving everything from California rolls to their famous hot plate meals, and if you’re looking for something a little more classic, J. Beethoven’s Pizza has been there since 1979, and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon! For the finer dining experience, the new Lakeside Beach Club offers a broad range of favourites and chef creations. There is also Legends Bistro located at the golf course just down the street, which combined with its rustic setting, exquisite menu, new seasonal dishes and a view that will surely impress, it should definitely be on your must eat list.
Explore the Wild
Surrounding the lake is a vast mountainous range that is filled with trails both marked and unmarked. Teapot Hill is the local grind, however it is an ideal place for those new to hiking to break their boots, as it is fairly easy to complete. About 5km from start to finish, it takes the modest hiker about 1.5 hours. Don’t be discouraged once you get to the steepest part of the trail, you’re nearly at the top! The first viewpoint will give you a surreal look over the lake, and 100 metres further takes you to another vantage point over the Columbia Valley and into the United States.
For those who truly cannot resist venturing off the beaten path, there are so many forgotten treasures in the forest and valley areas that it could keep you busy for days. The wildlife in the area is extensive, and you never know what you’re going to run into. That being said, always be prepared. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged, have a personal GPS on hand (they’re relatively cheap now and you can backtrack if you get lost) and bring ample water and food supplies for your trip.
Cultus Lake is the perfect place to get away from it all. Whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, or taking the family out for a day or weekend trip, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. I was truly blessed to grow up in this area, and even though it is a seasonal spot, summer being the best time, there’s opportunity for some magnificent photo ops if you happen to be in the area during winter!
This post was contributed by Curtis Engler, a 25 year old free spirit who’s lust for action, adventure, and taking the road less traveled has put him on a path to travel blogging that has only just begun. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, he’s turning his inability to stay in one place for too long into an opportunity to see all the world has to offer, destination unknown. You can check out his personal blog or follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.