Where to Stay
Squamish is a very popular destination for Canadians and other travelers during the month of August. We reserved our accommodation in late March, and for the period of the music festival (August 8-10), there was absolutely nothing available. So we reserved a hotel room in North Vancouver, only about a forty-minute drive south of Squamish. It’s probably best to reserve in January for the month of August, campsites included.
A few other options were promising but booked for the ten days we were going to be there:
Porteau Cove Campsite: I had looked into renting one of the little cabins at this beautiful campsite on the water. The pebble beach there is stunning, in the middle of the mountains and with a long pier that gives a great view. I still think it would have been wonderful to wake up to the view of the water and the mountains every morning, but it’s true that Porteau Cove is over ten minutes south of Squamish, which adds to the daily drive.
Squamish Inn on the Water: For those traveling alone without a tent, this place has dorm-style rooms. But be careful, because although all the beautiful pictures on their website show the water and the mountains, this hotel is actually right on Highway 99.
Howe Sound Inn and Brewery: For a shorter trip (or someone with more money than us), the Howe Sound Inn looked like it would be a good experience. The brewery part of it definitely won us over. It’s located in downtown Squamish.
We weren’t interested in campsites, though there are several in the area. The best seems to be the one at Alice Lake, because there are actually showers. However, weekends in August are booked as soon as reservations open, so you have to be really on top of it to get a spot. Other campsites didn’t have showers, and cost almost C$20 per night per person.
In the end, we booked a 1-bedroom basement apartment on AirBnB, and I would definitely suggest going this route. We were extremely well located, right by the Smoke Bluffs climbing area, and had absolutely everything we needed: parking spot, washer-dryer, dishwasher, full kitchen, DVD player for rainy days, as well as hosts just upstairs if we needed any advice or had any problems.
How to Get There
The most obvious option is to fly into Vancouver, which is what we did. All flights from Europe arrive late in the evening, so we booked a room at the Coast Vancouver Hotel, across the street from the Enterprise car rental. We used the free airport shuttle to get to the hotel, crashed, and left early the next morning after walking to the rental car place.
The drive to Squamish from the Vancouver airport is about an hour and twenty minutes, depending on traffic in Vancouver. We stayed in North Vancouver the first two nights, which I wouldn’t recommend, since it adds so much driving to your daily schedule—but we had no choice.
From Vancouver to Squamish you follow Highway 99, or the Sea-to-Sky highway, and it is a truly beautiful drive, especially spectacular in the evening. The Sea-to-Sky highway runs up the east coast of the sound. All of those islands are mountains, and there are more mountains on the opposite shore. It’s hard to take pictures while driving so here are a couple from websites:
I do recommend renting a car for the freedom it affords you. Otherwise, Greyhound does run buses up to Squamish and all the way up to Whistler, which is where the ski resorts are. Once in Squamish, you could conceivably do everything by foot or by renting/buying a bike, but it would take a lot longer. We went up to the Chek Canyon area three times, for hikes and climbing, and it’s a twenty-minute drive toward Whistler, so I don’t think that would be possible without a car, unless you really had plenty of time to hitch a ride.
Coming up… what we actually did.