Surrounded by half-bare, scrub-covered, ochre hills, OSOYOOS (the Syilx’tsn word for “gathered together”) has one of Canada’s strangest landscapes. With a mere 25cm of rain per year, this is a bona fide desert, with lizards, cacti and snakes: 23 types of invertebrate are endemic. Temperatures are regularly 10°C higher than in Nelson, less than a morning’s drive away, which means exotic fruit like bananas and pomegranates can be grown, with the temperature also inspiring the odd adobe building around town. Its other great feature is Lake Osoyoos, Canada’s warmest freshwater lake, with an average summer temperature of 24°C. In summer it comes alive with swimmers and boaters while streams of American RVs slow-tail their way northwards via the ugly Hwy-97 strip to the real Okanagan action.
The relative lack of crowds and strange scenery might persuade you to do your beach-bumming in Osoyoos, though you may be pushed to find space in any of the town’s twenty or so hotels and motels during high season.