If you enjoy sea kayaking, Vancouver Island is the place to be. From sandy beaches and hidden coves to mountain views, island archipelagos and an abundance of sea wildlife to spot – you can access all the stunning experiences from the seat of your kayak.
If you’re a yacht owner, you’re one step closer to the best places for kayaking Vancouver Island. Anchor up in a sheltered bay and put your kayaks in right there. The beauty of bringing your kayak on your vessel means you don’t have a long paddle to get to your chosen destination – you can spend your time exploring instead.
In this guide to sea kayaking Vancouver Island, we’ll explore the 6 best places to kayak from your boat and share some tips to make every experience memorable.
What Makes Sea Kayaking Vancouver Island Special
From short scenic paddles to multi-day adventure trips and everything in between., there is a multitude of sea kayaking opportunities to be found in all parts of Vancouver Island.
With stunning scenery, mild year-round temperatures and marine life at every turn, no wonder the Pacific Northwest is considered one of the best ocean kayaking locations in the world.
If you have had a dream to kayak with orcas, Vancouver Island is the perfect spot. Many of the waterways around the island are within feeding and migratory paths, and kayakers are often treated to the joyous sight of a pod of resident orcas emerging from the waves.
It’s not only whale watching that is possible from the water. Ocean kayaking around Vancouver Island is likely to get you up close and personal with marine life, including:
- Humpback Whales
- Gray Whales
- Sea Otters
- Sea Lions
- Bald Eagles and other bird life
What to Know Before you Kayak Vancouver Island
Although you may be an experienced boater, there are some things to know before setting off on any kayak trip.
Weather – Vancouver Island weather can change often, especially on the west coast. Always check the marine weather forecast before setting out to avoid getting caught on the water.
Safety – According to the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide, safety equipment required for human-powered vessels includes:
- A PFD for each passenger
- A bailer or bilge pump
- A sound signalling device (whistle)
- A buoyant heaving line
- A reboarding device, such as a float
Complete a kayak rescue course before you start ocean kayaking to learn lifesaving skills should you or someone with you capsize.
Be prepared – Plan ahead for any trip. Check maps and research the area you plan to paddle in, as some areas are only suitable for experienced kayakers due to strong currents.
6 Best Places to Go Sea Kayaking from Your Yacht on Vancouver Island
There are so many options for sea kayaking on Vancouver Island. However, here are our best suggestions that offer a variety of experiences for the confident kayaker or first-timer.
Nanaimo’s downtown harbour area offers interesting shorter kayak trips. When arriving on your yacht, either moor in the harbour or anchor up by Saysutshun (Newcastle Island). Beginners will enjoy looking for sea stars along the Newcastle Channel, while more experienced rowers can kayak around the island in a couple of hours. Look out for the resident albino raccoon which inhabits this marine provincial park.
Tip: End your day by paddling over to Canada’s only floating pub on nearby Protection Island for refreshments with a view.
Kayaking Deep Cove
Boaters with resident moorage at Van Isle Marina may enjoy a short day trip and paddle closer to home. Head north around the tip of the Saanich peninsula to Deep Cove. Situated on the peninsula’s west side, this sheltered cove is protected enough for beginner paddlers but large enough to test your arm muscles. Anchor up offshore and enjoy exploring the sandy shoreline.
Kayaking Quadra Island
Quadra Island is located within the Discovery Islands on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island and is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the mainland mountain ranges. Quadra has two marine parks: Small Inlet and Octopus Island, which are ideal for exploration by kayak. There are plenty of protected bays to anchor up in while you enjoy getting closer to the secluded shorelines and rich forest greenery.
Tip: If kayaking the ‘inside passage,’ watch out for challenging tidal rapids and whirlpools that can develop in bad weather.
Kayaking Broken Group Islands
One of the most famous places to sea kayak on Vancouver Island is the Broken Group Islands.
Situated off the west coast, south of Tofino in the Pacific Rim National Park reserve, the Broken Group consists of 100 small islands featuring white sandy beaches, inlets and abundant wildlife.
Many people plan multi-night kayak trips in this area, making the most of wilderness camping opportunities on the islands. Arriving by yacht means you can anchor up directly within the islands and take short or longer explorative paddles. Mooring overnight is permitted with a valid Parks Canada pass, enabling you to explore this stunning area at your leisure thoroughly.
Tip: Weather is very changeable on this coast, and fog can roll in quickly. Stay alert to your surroundings and location.
Kayaking Johnstone Straight and Broughton Archipelago
Johnstone straight is the body of water found off the eastern coast of northern Vancouver Island and one of the best places to encounter orcas. During the summer, you can dock at Telegraph Cove, a historical waterfront resort formerly a cannery, a Canadian Air Force mill and a telegraph post.
This marina can accommodate boats up to 25ft and is a great starting point for half or full-day kayak trips with the incredible mainland mountains as a backdrop.
Note: The marina at Telegraph Cove does not offer electrical or water hookups. However, there are services such as a store and restaurant on land.
Tip: From Telegraph Cove, you can easily travel by boat into the Broughton Archipelago, the islands and islets between Northern Vancouver Island and the BC mainland. These islands offer opportunities to spot black bears and cougars on shore.
Another short trip from your Van Isle Marina base is downtown Victoria. Less experienced paddlers will enjoy the gentle waters of the inner harbour and gorge, which offer plenty of historical architecture to admire from your vessel.
Tip: Day moorage can be booked online with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
Start your Vancouver Island Sea Kayaking Adventure from Sidney’s Van Isle Marina
Van Isle Marina’s location just north of Sidney, BC, is a great starting point to explore Vancouver Island’s many sea
kayaking opportunities. The staff at our state-of-the-art marina are always happy to share some great locations nearby for all of your adventures. .
If you’re looking for a new yacht to transport you and your kayak to our recommended paddling locations, our yacht sales team can help. Contact us today for more information on purchasing a yacht or mooring with us.