Travel Secret #361

No? You will want to, once you find out how much fun Sonali Shah had while cruising and flying around in one. 

Over to her:

As I fly over mini islands, I peer to see boats leave a foamy trail and watch the water below me shimmer. And the sea seems to merge with the clouds as the sun plays its tricks. I gaze farther and can’t tell whether I am seeing the mountains, clouds—or is it water? The cockpit of a floatplane does prove to offer the best view with enchanting illusions. I am flying over Vancouver in west Canada in a floatplane and thoroughly enjoying myself.


Floatplanes, also called seaplanes, are those that can glide over water as well as take a tour of the sky. A typical routine commences at the harbour, so take-offs and landings are on water, and a short scenic flight in between makes up the rest of the programme. Floatplanes are popular in Canada, not just for tourists, but also for many a wealthy businessman to get from one city to another.

I suggest a floatplane ride during summers to discover hidden Alpine lakes and one during the winters to meet hanging glaciers and mountain ridges of the region. If you’re a skilled skier, you can go down the slopes in style. You can also set off on day trips to bays and small islands in the neighbourhood. Maybe pack a picnic basket to take along or bring back a bounty from the local farmer’s market? The options to sight-see and participate in outdoor activities are numerous – bike excursions, whale-watching, city tours, kayaking and wine tastings are available on different routes.


On the day I showed up in Vancouver for a short, scenic ride, the waiting lounge for passengers looked pretty busy. We showed our boarding passes at the gate and filed ahead to board the aircraft, but I fell behind the line as I was shooting pictures. Now as luck would have it, I was the last person to board the plane and could not sight a vacant seat. Before I could voice my concern to the crew member at the door, he smiled at me and said, “Go on ahead to the cockpit, right beside the pilot.” I was mighty excited at hearing that and would’ve done a little jig at the spot, if I weren’t inside an aircraft! The pilot was a friendly fellow who asked me put on a set of headphones if I wanted to communicate with him, or hear his “jibber jabber” with the base over the radio. He was generous with information about where we were flying and said that he finds Vancouver to be the most beautiful city in Canada, to fly over.

The pontoons on the plane helped us take off on the sea, spraying water on either side and we cruised ahead faster than I had imagined. It picked up enough speed for me to begin to worry and soon, without a warning, lifted itself up, and the rotating blades on the nose did a good job of keeping us midair. After about 25 mins of breath-taking views of Vancouver, we glided back with a spray to the harbour. I stepped out feeling a tad woozy, and think that my tummy had a hard time deciding whether it was supposed to feel air or seasickness!

Know Before You Go
• Pick a sunny day for the ride. The sight of the rivers glistening in the sun is enchanting.
• Do carry your passport along. It serves as photo ID.
• The co-pilot’s seat is mostly available for passengers, but most tourists don’t know about it, as it isn’t particularly mentioned anywhere. So do march right ahead to the cockpit and think of Travel Secrets when other passengers look at you in awe.
• Most popular regions in British Columbia, connected by floatplanes are Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, San Juan Islands and Horseshoe Bay.
• On an average, a return journey costs CAD 100. Get a CAD 8 discount by booking tickets online on

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