What About Vancouver Island?
The West Coast of British Columbia is wild, beautiful, and home to some of the best sea kayaking on the planet. Adventurous explorers are drawn to Vancouver Island and thus, there is a very healthy outdoor culture of exploration on the Island.
Ocean River Sports and Adventures was the first kayak centre on Vancouver Island, established in Victoria, BC. in 1981. Owner, Brian Henry continues to own, and operate the business and boasts the most influential paddlesports centre on the BC coast.
A true adventure paradise, Vancouver Island is the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand and home to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Here you will find world famous Butchart Gardens, a designated National Historic Site of Canada, it has the greatest concentration of Orcas (killer whales) found anywhere, Humpback and Gray whales are now found spring summer and fall, sea otters, along with black bears, cougars, Roosevelt elk, Bald Eagles, a wide variety of other bird species and a host of other marine and land creatures.
Much of the rock that makes up Vancouver Island actually originated near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. It is part of a large piece of Earth’s crust that also includes southeast Alaska, the Queen Charlotte Islands and part of the Coast Mountains. 55 to 42 million years ago, two smaller pieces of crust called the Pacific Rim and Crescent collided with and joined onto Vancouver Island. This has formed a rugged and wild coastline in many places creating a kayaking heaven. Places such as the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Pacific Rim National Park on the west side and The Discovery Islands and Desolation Sound on the east.
The Vancouver Island mountain ranges run most of the length of the island, dividing it into a wet and rugged west coast characterised by its many fjords, bays, and inlets and a drier, more rolling east coast which offers excellent opportunities to explore the many island separating Vancouver Island from the BC mainland with its backdrop of the Coastal Mountains and snow- capped peaks.
The climate is the mildest in Canada, with temperatures on the coast even in January being usually above 0 °C (32 °F). In fact, Greater Victoria frequently registers Januarys in which the temperature never dips below 4.4C (40F)
In summer, the warmest days usually achieve a maximum of 28–33 °C (82.4–91.4 °F). However, the rain shadow effect of the island’s mountains, as well as the mountains of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, creates wide variation in precipitation. The west coast is considerably wetter than around Victoria and the Gulf Islands or the east coast off Campbell River.
From coastal rainforests and warm sandy beaches to snow covered mountain peaks, Vancouver Island has it all.
Home base for Ocean River Adventures, our Urban Kayaking tours are legendary and are a must for beginners and experienced kayakers. Victoria was voted “best city to be a kayaker in North America” by Adventure Kayaking Magazine. Day tours, evening tours and even sunset tours are a delight for all ages. It’s a great way to explore and experience this historic city from a different perspective. There is even a kayaking tour just outside Victoria in the community of Oak Bay that allows you to explore Discovery Island just off shore. Orcas (Killer Whales) frequent the waters between Victoria and the Gulf Islands as do Humpback and Grey whales during the summer.
Kayakers of all levels love these islands and paddle the protected waters along shorelines and in tranquil coves and bays. Salt Spring, Gabriola, Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna Islands are the main islands in the southern region. The Gulf Islands National Reserve is a particular favorite and covers 33 square kilometers of several islets, reefs and 15 islands providing habitat for seals and nesting shorebirds.
Discover the real wild west, West Coast Vancouver Island , where names like Tofino, Ucluelet and Bamfield stir a paddlers emotions. So too does the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve featuring Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail, a nationally significant coast environment and one of the most beautiful places on Canada’s West Coast. Experienced kayakers delight in exploring the Broken Islands, a series of islands and islets in Barkley Sound that can only be reached by boat with numerous campsites for kayakers and canoeists. Further north is the wild and historic region of Nootka Sound and Kyuquot Sound and its rugged and pristine coastline.
During the spring summer and fall thousands of Humpback and Grey whales are found migrating to and from Alaska along with Orcas (Killer Whales), seals sea lions and sea otters that also frequent these waters.
Discovery Islands / Desolation Sound
Located between Campbell River and mainland British Columbia, The Discovery Islands group is made up of about a dozen major islands including Quadra Island and Cortes Island along with countless smaller islands known as the “Outer Islands”. The breathtaking fjords of Bute, Toba and Loughborough Inlets which cleave up to 80 km (50 miles) into the British Columbia Coast Range Mountains and glaciers on the adjacent mainland make up this kayaking paradise.
There are a variety of marine parks along with numerous secluded coves and beaches which make the Outer Islands an idyllic kayaking destination.
Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park
Located north of Powell River and Lund on the Sunshine Coast where kayakers have enjoyed exploring the islands and coves that make up the unique shoreline has more than 60 km of shoreline, several islands, numerous small bays and snug coves.