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Paddling Victoria’s Beautiful Waterways

Victoria has one of the most beautiful harbours and inland waterways in the world making it a spectacular, as well as an incredibly convenient spot to go kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding for a few hours or a day.  Explore this historic working harbor from the water with its historic streets and architecture as well as it’s rich mix of ongoing activities including;  whale watching cruises, international ferries, commercial tugs, float planes, cruise ships, recreational power and sail boats, fishing boats, ship repair facilities, water taxi’s, and of course, all kinds of paddle craft. Expect to see all kinds of wildlife that have adapted to living around this busy environment including all kinds of aquatic birds, Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons to seals, mink, raccoons and river otters.

We have outlined some of our favorite harbour paddles for you in a series of Blog Posts complete with maps, so come on down to Ocean River Sports, bring your own boat or Rent a kayak, canoe or paddle board from us and leave right from the convenience of the Ocean River Docks.  We’ll even loan you a waterproofed map to help guide you on your way!  Don’t want to tackle the harbour on your own?  Register for one of our very popular Harbour Tours at the Ocean River Sports Adventure Centre and let one of our very experienced guides show you the sights.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the ‘Causeway’ and Empress Hotel

A word of caution:  Transport Canada advises that aviation and marine traffic in the Port of Victoria has increased over the past few years and your cooperation is needed to ensure effective operations and safety in the port. The following rules, special procedures and restrictions have been developed jointly by port users and regulatory authorities and apply to all vessels (including paddle craft) and seaplanes operating in the Port of Victoria.

For a chart and complete list of the rules and regulations for paddling in Victoria Harbour, click this link: Harbour Rules and Regulations.

Paddle Boarder on their way into the Inner Harbour

Weather Conditions

Always check the weather conditions before you set off.  Although it is quite sheltered, strong winds can be funneled down the harbour.  The outer harbour can also be exposed to significant wind and waves rolling in from the Juan de Fuca Strait, so caution should be exercised.  Good wind forecasts for Victoria Harbour can be obtained from these sites:

Environment Canada


If in doubt, check with the staff at the Adventure Centre.

Local Paddling Safety

For more local guidelines and general information about  paddling safety, what gear to take and what to be aware of, check out our post:  Safety Guidelines for Paddling Around Victoria & Vancouver Island

Kayaking the Gorge Waterway

Suggested Routes

Click the links below for more detailed information of where to go and what to see on some of our favorite harbour paddles.  Note the times are very approximate and will vary considerably depending on your paddling speed, and how much time you take for sight seeing, photos and socializing.

Ocean River Sports to Ogden Point – Approximately 7.6 km (4.7 mi) return.  Allow 2 -3 hours.

Ocean River Sports to Flemming Beach – Approximately 10 km (6 miles).  Allow 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours.

Ocean River Sports to Gorge Tillicum Bridge  Approximately 5.5 km (3 mi).  Allow a couple of hours.

Victoria Circle Route 16.8 kms or (10.5 mi).  Allow 3 – 4 hours not including lunch break

Fisherman’s Wharf

Kayaking the Gorge Waterway

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About Ocean River

Located in Victoria, British Columbia on beautiful Vancouver Island, Ocean River is one of the premier speciality kayak and adventure companies in North America. Brian Henry, the founder & current owner, has been running Ocean River since 1981, and Ocean River continues to be recognised as one of the most significant outdoor/paddlesports instructional & tours provider in North America.

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