The Dark Secrets of Stanley Park is an exceptional guided walking tour put on by Forbidden Vancouver. It’s full of history, storytelling and nature.
We joined the tour in August of 2020 and had a wonderful time! We found it both educational and entertaining, but also a great activity in today’s world of COVID-19.
On our tour the guide wore a face mask while walking, but took it off when stopping to speak and at a safe distance. With a maximum of just 12 people when we went, there was lots of room for physical distancing. Everything was also outside in the fresh air. It was perfect! So glad we went!
To learn about our experience on the Stanley Park tour, see below. For information about the company behind the guided walk, see our article about Vancouver Walking Tours or visit the Forbidden Vancouver website.
Guided Walking Tours in Stanley Park
Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours is a family-owned tour company that offers guided walking tours in downtown Vancouver. In addition to routes in and around Gastown, the West End and other parts of downtown Vancouver, the company also offers tours around the city’s world-famous park.
The Dark Secrets of Stanley Park is a two-hour tour where the guide leads participants through forested trails and along the Stanley Park Seawall while sharing colourful stories about the history of the region.
On this tour you’ll learn about the geological beginnings of the area, as well as the history of the park, the seawall, the City of Vancouver, local First Nations, pandemics and crime. We went on the tour with friends and everyone loved it!
As of the summer of 2020, the Dark Secrets of Stanley Park tour costs about $29. When there isn’t a global pandemic its maximum capacity is about 20 people. Because of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, it’s running at a maximum capacity of 12 participants.
What to Expect on the Tour
The Dark Secrets of Stanley Park starts outside the entrance to the Vancouver Aquarium which is located in the middle of the park at 845 Avison Way. The professional guide introduces themself, welcomes everyone and then leads the group along a path through the trees.
The tour makes its way from the starting point to the former site of the Vancouver Zoo. It then proceeds to a part of the seawall with views of downtown Vancouver. From there participants pass Deadman’s Island, visit Stanley Park’s totem poles and head toward Lumberman’s Arch before returning to the Aquarium’s parking lot area.
In total, the trip takes about 2 hours. It goes at a leisurely pace, with the guide stopping about every 5 minutes or so to point out a particular tree or site of significance. The guide tells stories about historical characters, shows photographs of what the area looked like years ago, and explains how places like Deadman’s Island, the City of Vancouver and Stanley Park got their names.
On the tour, when we went, we learned about Captain George Vancouver, Gassy Jack Deighton, Portuguese Joe and Chief Capilano. We also learned about past resident polar bears, burial sites, smallpox, Indigenous villages, the “Stanley Park Prowlers” and the history of the park’s totem poles.
If you like history, walking, nature, Stanley Park and learning about Vancouver, we highly recommend you check out the Dark Secrets of Stanley Park! It’s a great activity for both tourists and locals!
About Forbidden Vancouver
Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours is a locally-owned tour company. Their guided walks are listed below. Each runs for between about 1.5 and 2.5 hours and costs between around $26 and $50 (with the most expensive one involving samples of some of Vancouver’s finest chocolates)!
(Note: Times, prices and other details are subject to change. Also, not all tours run all the time.)
- Lost Souls of Gastown Tour
- Dark Secrets of Stanley Park Tour
- Really Gay History Tour
- Forbidden Vancouver Tour
- Art Deco and Chocolate Tasting Tour
To learn more about the company and its offerings click any of the above titles or see our article about Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours.
Dark Secrets Walking Tour Video
To give you an idea of what to expect on a Dark Secrets of Stanley Park outing, check out the following video. It was taken in August of 2020 when we went on the tour. As you’ll see, the route goes through forested trails, along the seawall and past totem poles and other sites of interest.
When we went, we thoroughly enjoyed it (as did everyone else on the tour). It went at a nice pace – not too fast and not too slow. And we learned so many interesting things about Vancouver and Stanley Park from our guide!
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your Dark Secrets of Stanley Park experience.
TIP #1: Don’t forget to pay for parking at Stanley Park. The guided walk lasts for two hours, so you’ll want to pay for at least three hours to be on the safe side, or more if you plan to do some extra exploring on your own either before or after the official tour.
TIP #2: In the summer of 2020 access to some of the roads in and out of Stanley Park is restricted, especially when coming and going from the North Shore. Depending on where you are coming from, you may have to do a detour via downtown Vancouver to get into the park. Consequently, give yourself lots of time to get there.
TIP #3: If you want to do something fun and a little bit touristy, but are also concerned about the coronavirus, do seriously consider one of Forbidden Vancouver’s tours. Ones they are offering as of mid-2020 are all outdoors and in the fresh air. They are also operating at reduce capacity to allow for adequate physical distancing. And if you are extra concerned, wear a face mask. When we went on our tour we felt very safe and comfortable.
TIP #4: We invited friends to join us on the tour when we went and it was wonderful. We had fun on the tour, and got to catch up with friends in a beautiful and safe environment! Going with people you know can make the experience extra enjoyable!
TIP #5: Similar to Forbidden Vancouver’s other tours, the Dark Secrets of Stanley Park goes at a comfortable pace and so is suitable for people of most abilities. The route goes through forested trails and occasionally across grassy areas, however, so isn’t suitable for people in wheelchairs. The route is nice and flat though with no steep slopes to climb.
TIP #6: Forbidden Vancouver’s tours sometimes include mature content and so are designed for adults. The Dark Secrets of Stanley Park tour, for example, includes some “steamy” stories. The tour is very highly recommended, but only for people ages 15+.
TIP #7: The tour guides welcome your tips and positive reviews. If you enjoy your experience, as we’re sure you’ll do, let your guide know. Gratuities though, although greatly appreciated, are optional. Give whatever you’d like to give.
To learn more about the company see the Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- City of Vancouver
- Stanley Park
- Stanley Park Seawall
- Vancouver Sightseeing Companies
- Lower Mainland Parks and Nature
- Places for History and Culture
- First Nations in the Lower Mainland