Top 5 Vancouver Island Multi-Day Paddling Trips

Multi-day paddling trips on Vancouver Island to add to your “to-do” list

After Canada 150, where everyone flocked to our beautiful country to discover why we were voted the best place to visit in 2017, it is time we got back to our adventurous roots.

Canada was discovered up close and personal, from the historic uses of the kayak and canoe by the indigenous people of Canada to the use of the paddle craft in the fur trade, this country holds a vibrant story told from the seat of a paddle craft and the vista of a mountaintop.

Fall back in love with your roots by discovering some of the best multi-day paddling trips that Vancouver Island has to offer.

Sayward Portage Loop

The Sayward Forest Canoe Route is a portage loop that spans about 47.4 km of portaging and paddling through 11 lakes. This route can take 2-3 days if you are an experienced paddler and are really pushing it or you can enjoy a 4-7 day trip through this beautiful area in the central Island.

This well-marked portage has clean campsites and varied scenery with lakes ranging in size and two areas with rapids depending on the season. These rapids can be avoided depending on your experience.

Sayward Canoe Loop

Della Falls

Della Falls is the tallest waterfall in Canada and is hidden in the Strathcona Park in the Central Island.  Della falls are 444 meters high and can be reached by a 15 km hike. The longest part of this journey is the paddle across Grand Central Lake which is a 33km trip.

It is possible to complete the entire journey in 3 days but it would be far more enjoyable as a 5-day trip.

Della Falls

Photo by Stephanie Brown

Salish Sea Marine Trail

The Salish Sea Marine Trail is an ocean paddling route perfectly suited for expedition kayaking. The trail works its way from Victoria up the eastern side of Vancouver Island through the Gulf Islands towards Parksville where it crosses to Lasqueti and makes its way towards Vancouver working down the mainland coast of BC. You can do the entire route or just portions but the benefits of this marine trail are the well kept and designated camping spots along the way.

Salish Sea Marine Trail

Photo by Fred Miller

Hot Springs Cove

Not much is written about kayaking to Hot Springs Cove north of Tofino. There are flights and boat charters taking visitors on day trips to the natural hot springs but a lot of the information revealed on kayaking here in a Google Search will bring up kayak tour companies. Heading to the Hot Springs with a Tour company has the benefits of learning about the history and natural wildlife of the area as well as having meals cooked for you. If you are experienced and capable, however, this is a perfectly manageable adventure to take in a small group without a company. A 5-day trip will get you there and back but if you want to explore Vargas Island and the Whitesands Beach give yourself more time. Tofino Sea Kayaking knows more about routes.

kayaking around vancouver island

Broken Island Group

The Broken Island Group offers a breathtaking archipelago of Islands just north of Bamfield on the west side of Vancouver Island. Six of the over 100 small islands have maintained campsites on them making this a perfect place for exploring for a week or more. The maximum stay for any single campsite is 4 days, however, so you can’t just go on living in this paradise.

Many people get to the broken Islands via the MV Frances Barkley, a boat from Port Alberni to Sechart Lodge just outside the Pacific Rim National Park. There are other ways of getting to the islands but this is a close launching point and gets you closest to the islands to start the trip.

paddling trips on vancouver island

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