There it is again, the telltale pitter-patter of Seattle’s winter drizzle on the roof. A familiar blanket of gray clouds covering the sky. It’s only sensible to find yourself daydreaming of your next trip.

While it may be easy to write off as a passing fancy, taking time off is key for your mental and physical health. Inc. Magazine reports that vacations not only reduce stress and anxiety, but they also prevent heart disease, improve productivity and promote better sleep.

Time to stop dreaming and start planning. With a new decade upon us, go ahead and put your needs first with these seven ways to plan a wellness retreat in Victoria, BC.

Embark on a Wellness Getaway for a Meaningful Transformation

In an era of non-stop notifications, status updates and pings, nothing is more freeing than escaping the daily grind by scheduling some much-needed spa-time and quality relaxation. A quick mini-vacation that results in a big transformation, leaving you feeling refreshed and recharged. Especially when it includes a scenic 2-hour and 45-minute cruise from Seattle to Victoria, BC on the Victoria Clipper ferry.

Surrounded by open water and snow-capped mountains on all sides, it is the equivalent of watching all your worries, stress and concerns whisk away in a matter of minutes. The perfect excuse to press pause, disconnect from your devices, reconnect with the people in your life and experience your surroundings in real-time.

Catch a stunning sunrise as you cruise out of Seattle's Pier 69 on the Victoria Clipper ferry.
Catch a stunning sunrise as you cruise out of Seattle’s Pier 69 on the Victoria Clipper ferry.

Upon arrival, be prepared for two nights of pure bliss with luxe lodging at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort, Oak Bay Beach Hotel or the Fairmont Empress Hotel (book Clipper’s 2-Night Winter Wellness Special at these properties). It’s hard to imagine a better way to start 2020!

Explore Vancouver Island’s Green Spaces

If you’re looking to truly disconnect, immersing yourself in nature is a tried and true starting point. A study from the University of East Anglia reported in Science Daily found, “Populations with higher levels of green space exposure are also more likely to report good overall health.”

With hundreds of parks, green spaces and natural areas scattered across Vancouver Island, tranquility can be found in any direction. A 30-minute drive out of Victoria’s downtown core brings you to the spectacular Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. Nestled next to the Saanich Inlet, it boasts of more than 25 kilometers of trails for your wandering pleasure.

Trickling streams add a sense of calm to the lush Gowlland Tod Park. Credit: Dale Simonson
Trickling streams add a sense of calm to the lush Gowlland Tod Park. Credit: Dale Simonson

Home to a lush, mixed forest of Douglas-fir, Arbutus, western red cedar, western hemlock, shore pine, grand fir, red alder and Garry oak, it is an ideal locale to celebrate the glory of all things green. In spring and summer, pinks, purples, reds and more get added to the mix as the park’s mossy-knolls get carpeted with wildflowers in a rainbow of colors.

Feed Your Body and Your Soul

If you’re going to treat your body, your taste buds should be at the top of the list. Head out of the downtown core to the Saanich Peninsula’s secret foodie haunt Charlotte and the Quail.

Tucked on the edge of the Horticulture Center of the Pacific (HCP), the rustic restaurant focuses on simplifying healthy eating by serving up wholesome food crafted from ingredients sourced from neighboring farms. Sample the local favorite, oatmeal pancakes or slurp up the ever-changing seasonal soup. (Insider tip: Don’t miss their aptly named sister location, Nourish Kitchen + Cafe, an 1888 heritage home-turned-restaurant mere steps from the Victoria Clipper terminal.)

Sleeping Beauty pancakes at Nourish, with melt-in-your-mouth whole oat pancakes, bee pollen sprinkles and seasonal fruit compote. Credit: Nick Bentley
Sleeping Beauty pancakes at Nourish, with melt-in-your-mouth whole oat pancakes, bee pollen sprinkles and seasonal fruit compote. Credit: Nick Bentley

After your meal, step into the neighboring gardens (psst – you’ll get a discounted entrance fee by submitting your receipt) and bask in the beauty of the 10-acre garden education epicenter. Boasting everything from bonsais to herbs, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world.

An array of vibrant succulents and flowers add a shot of color the grounds at HCP. Credit: Gardens BC
An array of vibrant succulents and flowers add a shot of color the grounds at HCP. Credit: Gardens BC

For quick bites, visit the modern JUSU Bar on Fisgard Street in Chinatown. (Inside tip: There are also locations on Yates Street and Oak Bay Avenue.) Founded on the mission of controlling your own health and wellness by making better food choices, the cozy café serves up everything from toasted paninis to creamy smoothie bowls, all created with organic, non-GMO ingredients.

Wash your eats down with one of their signature cold-pressed juices, such as the green Emerald City or root-veggie based Hawkeye. Loaded with essential vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients, they pack a punch to help detoxify your body. Believe us, your body and your taste buds will thank you.

Indulge in Water Therapy

There’s nothing quite like the smooth, mirror-like expanse of water or the rhythmic sloshing of waves to lull you into a state of tranquility. According to Hello British Columbia, “The sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart, and induce relaxation.”

For a unique water experience, drive about an hour east of Victoria to pay a visit to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. A swimming haven for locals in the summer, the series of deep, polished rock pools connected by waterfalls offer a peaceful locale for a quiet stroll or a picnic. Plus, nearby towering trees provide a beautiful canopy and no shortage of green!

Sooke's crystal-clear pools make the ideal spot for a dip or quiet reflection. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria
Sooke’s crystal-clear pools make the ideal spot for a dip or quiet reflection. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria

Hike around the park for up-close views of the Sooke River or stake out a spot along the potholes’ edge, listen to the sound of the rushing water and let your mind escape.

Prefer salty ocean breezes? Head to the charming seaside community of Oak Bay, which boasts one of the few soft sand beaches on the east coast of the Island – Willows Beach. Stroll along the shore where pristine swaths of white sand meet the deep cerulean waves of the ocean. Paired with the white snow-capped peaks of Mt. Baker and other Cascade Mountains against a sunny, bluebird sky, the scene encapsulates Pacific Northwest beauty.

The sandy shores of Willows Beach offer the perfect tranquil escape. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria
The sandy shores of Willows Beach offer the perfect tranquil escape. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria

Find Your Inner Zen

Nourish your mind, body and spirit at the eighth annual Victoria Yoga & Wellness Conference. Not able to make it to the event? There are plenty of spots around town to squeeze in your downward dogs and Savasanas. Pop into one of the classes at Yoga Lab Victoria or Ashtanga Yoga for everything from heated Vinyasa to restorative yoga for all levels. They even have walk-ins if you arrive early. You’ll leave renewed, refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Stretch out your muscles with an invigorating yoga class. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria
Stretch out your muscles with an invigorating yoga class. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria

What’s better than connecting with your inner yogi? Finding your inner Zen while cuddling adorable baby Nigerian Dwarf goats! Swing by Huckleberry Farm from May to September to kid around with cloven-hoofed cuties. While they may not be quite ready to teach you how to rise into sun salutations, they will help you reduce your stress and anxiety.

Steam, Soak and Massage Your Way to Spa Bliss

From aromatic steam rooms to heated mineral pools and relaxing rubdowns, spa life equals the good life. Make self-care a priority for your busy, hardworking self and unwind and rejuvenate your spirit with some hard-earned R&R at one of Victoria’s phenomenal five-star resorts.

Soothe your soul with the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress’ unique Spa Ritual. A combination of a comforting soak in their thermal mineral bath plus a stop to relax in the eucalyptus steam inhalation room and sauna makes the experience simply divine. Melt away your winter blues afterward with a luxurious mani-pedi.

Natural ingredients create a soothing spa experience. Credit: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Natural ingredients create a soothing spa experience. Credit: The Fairmont Empress Hotel

For another great option, indulge your senses with a trip to the mecca of relaxation – Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Get your glow on with a range of invigorating massages and follow it up with a dip in the heated, seaside mineral pools. Surrounded by spectacular views of the Salish Sea and Mt. Baker, serenity is sure to take over the mind.

A dip in the heated mineral pools is a must-do at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Credit: Oak Bay Beach Hotel
A dip in the heated mineral pools is a must-do at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Credit: Oak Bay Beach Hotel

For unparalleled views of the city from West Victoria, duck into the Spa at Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort. Cozy up in one of the European-style spa’s 13 treatment rooms and indulge in one of the award-winning beauty treatments. Before you know it, current stresses will suddenly dissipate into distant memories.

Book these hotels with Clipper, learn more.

Bathe in the BC’s Magnificent Forests

Brimming with scenic trails and lush forests, Vancouver Island is a prime spot to reconnect with nature. Exercise and time outside do wonders for your body and soul! According to Hello British Columbia, “Leisurely forest walks have shown to decrease cortisol levels by as much as 12.4 percent.”

Leave your gadgets and the rest of the world behind and head to Port Alberni to spend a few hours beneath Cathedral Grove’s rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem. Slow down and be in the moment as you soak in sights of these massive trees, which tower an impressive 75 m (250 ft.) high and are about 800 years old.

Wander through Cathedral Grove's dense forest. Credit: Sang Trinh
Wander through Cathedral Grove’s dense forest. Credit: Sang Trinh

With no other distractions, you’ll be able to focus on your surroundings and observe things you might have otherwise missed. Not only will you gain a new appreciation of BC’s stunning scenery, but you’ll also feel your worries drop away in a matter of minutes.

Drink in the beauty of nature as you wander secluded trails. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria
Drink in the beauty of nature as you wander secluded trails. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria

Leave your stress behind for a weekend away in the charming coastal city of Victoria. Home to healthy, farm-to-table eats, luxurious spas and awe-inspiring natural beauty, it’s a place where you can kick back, relax and explore without feeling exhausted and in need of a second holiday. You’ll come back revived and ready for anything.

Book Your Victoria Trip Now