They say that happiness occurs when reality supersedes your expectations, and all I have to say is YES. SO MUCH YES! Of course, that’s not the only way to achieve happiness, but let me tell you, it’s pretty effective.
My first week in Squamish was quite the pleasant surprise. I was somewhat ambivalent on our way there due to my lackluster experience with bouldering and trad climbing, but I had so much fun that I forgot to write… for about 4 weeks.
So if you haven’t been to Squamish, I would highly recommend adding it to your list. Here’s some travel beta that I picked up along the way.
Before You Leave
Before you leave, check the exchange rate. Right now, the US dollar is stronger than the Canadian dollar. $1 US = $1.31 CA, to be exact. So it’s like everything in the country is 25% off. Do the math. I’m not crazy.
If you’re thinking about buying a rope, or shoes, or a crash pad… or a car, consider waiting to buy it in Canada for cheaper!
Also call your cell phone carrier to ask about International calling and data options. With Sprint, I was able to upgrade to unlimited International data and $0.20/min calls at no extra cost.
With AT&T, my boyfriend was able to add International data and $1/min calls for $30/mo. He just turned off his cellular data and relied on text messages to get around.
If you are able to use your data for relatively cheap, it’s worth noting that you can make free calls via Facebook Messenger and some providers allow free Wi-Fi calls, like Sprint.
So figure out your mode of communication with other members of your party before heading off into the land of maple leaves.
Crossing the Border
If you don’t have time to drive, you shouldn’t have a problem crossing the Canadian border. However, if you decide to drive, there are a few things you should know before crossing.
- Make sure you don’t have a criminal record. Canadian border patrol can just say no, and people have been turned away for having marks on their record.
- Drug routes run from Mexico up to Canada, so don’t say that you drove up from Mexico unless you want to be searched.
- Don’t bring fresh fruits or vegetables, just in case. Canada has grocery stores.
- If you plan to bring your furry friend, bring his latest shot records and leave your pet food in its original packaging. If you have a container that you usually pour the food into, save the bag. US Border Patrol will toss all dog food out unless it’s labeled… because Land of the Free.
- Canadian Border Patrol will want to know that you’ll be contributing to their economy, so be prepared to show them that you have money to spend in their country. We never had problems with this as we both work remotely, but a few friends who said they were unemployed had to show bank statements to get in.
Once you’re in, it’s time to blend in. Here’s what I’ve found is most effective for seamless Canadian assimilation:
- Wear flannel
- Say “hey” at the end of your questions because “eh” is so yesterday.
- Sport the man bun. Bonus points if you shave the sides of your head to accentuate said man ban.
- Use the hashtag #ExploreBC
- Be extraordinarily polite and say “sore-y” whenever possible
- Use Grand Wall balm instead of J-Tree or Climb On
- Don’t believe everything you see on the weather channel
What to Climb
Squamish is primarily known for its traditional climbing and bouldering, but you can also find a few sport climbing crags nearby. You can find most routes/problems on Mountain Project, but Squamish has some of the best guidebooks on the market, so I highly recommend buying a book if you’re new to the area.
I spent most of my time in the magical forest with the Grand Wall boulders, but there are many other areas to check out if you like to feel more secluded.
I personally loved the Grand Wall boulders because they were shaded from the sun all day long, protected from the occasional drizzles of rain, and mostly insulated from the hotter/colder temps in the parking lot.
Where to Sleep/Shower
If you don’t want to spend the money on a hotel but don’t want to dirtbag it either, you do have the option of booking an AirBnB for your stay in Squamish. Prices will vary depending on availability, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
1. The Chief: $10/night. Car & tent camping. No reservations necessary. No showers.
2. Forest Service Road: FREE. Car & tent camping. No reservations necessary. No showers.
3. Brennan Park Recreational Center: $17/night Car & tent camping. No reservations necessary. $5 showers at the rec. Showers unavailable from Sept 9 – Oct 3 when pool is closed to maintenance.
4. Paradise Valley: $35/night. Car & tent camping. Reservations required. $1/5 min showers.
Places to Eat
For such a small town, Squamish has some pretty tasty food options. Here are a few of our favorites.
+ Zephyr Café [Vegan/Vegetarian-friendly]
Good for: Breakfast, healthier food options
My favorite: Chicken Rice Bowl with Zephyr Dressing
+ Chef Big D’s [Vegetarian-friendly]
Good for: Diner breakfast
My favorite: The Usual
+ Sushi Sen [Vegetarian-friendly]
Good for: Incredible sushi
My favorite: Rainbow / Red Hot Dynamite Roll
+ Essence of India [Vegetarian-friendly]
Good for: Tasty Indian food
My favorite: Butter Chicken
+ Spice Root [Vegetarian-friendly]
Good for: Thai food
My favorite: Pad Thai
+ Mag’s 99 [Vegetarian-friendly]
Good for: Mexican fast food and fried chicken
My favorite: Fish Burrito (not on the menu)
Rest Day Activities
1. Hike the Chief – aka the Stair Master
2. Get work done at:
- Save On Foods
- Squamish Adventure Center
3. Relax at Alice or Brohm Lake
4. Get a massage
There are a few places to get massages in Squamish, but they’re a little pricey. The best deal I found was a 60 min table massage for $80 CAD ($61 USD) at Nature’s Way Massage.
I also tried Dalila’s Massage on Cleveland Avenue for $65 CAD/60 min, but it wasn’t really worth the money.
If you’re looking for a destination for next year’s summer vacation, consider visiting Squamish. You won’t be sorey. I promise.
Cover photo by Marc Bourguignon