best sea kayaking city in the world

-- Last Updated: Sep-05-08 5:53 PM EST --

i have often contended (proclaimed even) that Victoria BC, is the greatest city in the world for sea kayaking. i've traveled around a bit, but not the world over, and i'm wondering how right, or not, i am in this assertion. do you know of a city, your own or otherwise, that offers awesome sea kayaking? how so?

this is why i make this claim for Victoria....
it is a smallish city of about 300,000, and is on a peninsula on the southern end of Vancouver Island. it sticks out into the Straight of Juan de Fuca. across from us is the Olympic peninsula of Washington, and north of us is the southern Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands of Washington, but i digress as these things are not what make local, urban paddling great here.

the city is fully maritime and is bordered by the ocean to the south, south west, and east. the shore line is obviously mostly developed, mostly residential housing with a foreshore that is rugged, rocky and generally accessible by sea kayak, landing in pocket beaches/coves where possible. the foreshore is legally accessible to the public in BC, up to the high tide line. there are a few major (but not large) islands off the coast, and numerous islets, making for a complex coastal environment with lots of currents to negotiate. there are also many smaller bays for neophytes but the appeal of the islands and bigger marine environment is incredible. it can be very dynamic during spring tides, and even offer up big tide race surfing on the better days, but this is not as common as i'd like. there is plenty of wildlife and occasionally orcas, but you have to get lucky to see one to be honest. after paddling, you can stop for your gourmet coffee or beer at any number of funky locales. the downside? the water here is cold, always. having paddled in San Diego lately, this actually seems like a positive thing, cause being in a sea kayak in hot weather and warm water wasn't that great in my mind, i'd rather have a ski for those waters... there is also a marine park with camping and hiking exploration with convoluted passages and currents running through the islets, about 2 nautical miles from the headland in the city. it rarely snows or gets below freezing, so we paddle year round, but it can be bloody cold in the winter, so lots of gear is needed as a precaution.

an odd feature of the city, is that while there are plenty of sea kayakers around, there does not seem to be much of a cohesive sea kayak culture or community, including the stores. there is a small fragmented group of sporty sea kayakers, but that's about it.

i'm genuinely curious if there is a place out there that offers as much as this place does. go ahead and brag about a city you know that's great to paddle in, so i have an excuse to go and travel there...

There’s This Small Island…
…in the North Atlantic, with about the population of a fair sized city - 500,000 - called Newfoundland.

Totally surrounded by water, spectacular coastline, a gazillion good launch spots, whales, icebergs, seabird colonies, friendly natives…we can give Vic’s attractions a run for their money any day of the week. If you ever get a chance, come on across the Gulf, and stick a paddle in God’s Own Chunk of Ocean :->))

You are right

– Last Updated: Sep-05-08 6:10 PM EST –

San Diego with very easy access to warm water, dolphins, sealions, big surf, calm bays, rock gardens and tide races from lagoons, is a terrible place to paddle.
Tourists from Arizona should all go to Victoria.

When you see Jen Kleck in TITS4 please imagine all those scenes are filmed in Victoria so you don't waste time coming here.

what city in NL?
is St John’s a good paddling city? i imagine all of Newfoundland is pretty amazing, it’s no secret that’s for sure.

without a doubt
SD has it for surf kayaking over probably anywhere. the surf was very small when i was there, typical for the season. i saw thousands of boardies, but no kayaks when there were waves. same as here, go to the open coast a hour and a half away, and not a surf kayak to be seen, i don’t know why it is so uncommon relative to stand up surfing.

Which beach did you go to?

– Last Updated: Sep-05-08 7:20 PM EST –

Surf Kayakers are very selective bunch.

Also next time you come down, post ahead of time, I took a kayaker from Seattle out surfing a few weeks ago, and he is hooked and coming back for more.

Newfoundland is great
I was up there in August. We paddled on the south coast from Rose Blanche to Francois. It is a beautiful coast for paddling and the people are very friendly. The only problem is the coastal ferry schedules aren’t coordinated, so if you want to paddle further east, say to Hermitage, it would take you a week to get back to your car.

St. John’s Harbour…

– Last Updated: Sep-05-08 8:52 PM EST –

...isn't a spot I'd choose - there's the dreaded 'bubble', which I won't explain any further 'cause the Dept of Tourism gets all twisted out of shape when we tell outsiders about it. (Once got chucked out of a harbourfront bar when I was kind enough to tell the nice American lady just what those seagulls were fishing for...)

Corner Brook, which is on the Bay of Islands on the west coast, is much more appealing...

The real action, tho, isn't near the cities at all - it's on the coastlines you access from about 500 small coastal communities we call outports. All told, there's about 10,000 kms of shoreline around the island, and another 5,000 in Labrador. Everything from lillydippers paradises (my kind of water) to real "Oh, God, get me outa here and I promise I'll sell the boat and all the gear, I really will" sorts of spots - it's all good.

Here's a link to an excellent trip report by a couple who spent some time in the Bay of Exploits area...

A long way to come, and it costs like crazy to get here, but everyone I know who's made the trip says it was worth every minute and every penny. And once you've been here, a tiny piece of your heart never, never leaves...

The only regret I have about living in Newfoundland is that lives are one to a customer...

I would agree, 5 years in Seattle
Your observations mirror mine.

If one wants to ‘learn’ sea-kayaking, I would suggest moving to the PNW for a few years.

  • currents - Puget Sound (eg: classroom - Dec Pass)
  • challenging (winter) surf (eg: classroom - Westport)
  • Daily paddle - (Daily 2 hour class on Lake Washington - no excuse’s for absense, except maybe for ‘Boat Opening Day’)
  • year round paddling

    That said, I’ve ‘graduated’ (I know, one never stops learning), and have ‘retired’ (oh, about a 40 or 50 year retirement) to Jacksonville FL, where the coast is almost always calm - except for those few weeks of the year when the wind gets kind of swirly (you know, in a counterclockwise direction).


it’s like a sentient being set out to create a place specifically for sea kayaking. that’s how i view Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island. northern Ontario is to canoeing what the Island is to sea boating.

Cohesive Kayak Group
Come across the water to Port Angeles - although we are small, we have an active kayak club 130 members strong, and three kayak shops right here. Small town, friendly people. I just spent four days in Victoria. Saw lots of kayakers in the harbor, heading up the gorge but didn’t see one kayaker out on the strait when we rode up past Oak Bay. Why is that?

due to the tidal conditions, many people are intimidated to paddle out of the bays and harbours. Victoria waters are very ‘sea like’ and there are hazards. however, it is mostly overstated, and people with a modicum of fitness and skill can manage it. developing a high level of sea kayaking skill and taking advantage of local waters is a small part of those who own sea kayaks.

Devon, Cornwall, Scotland, Orkney
I think have a lot more variety and challenges.

Peoria, IL is strong contender.
I think has a lot more variety and challenges.

Illinois River, short drive to I and M Canal, Banner Marsh, and Lake Storey Galesburg, plus Lak MI is only 2 hours away.

Opps, sorry, thread asked best in world
I thought it said best in mid-central Illinois.


is Devon, Cornwall, Scotland and Orkney
a city, or general regions?

1 Like

West Coast of Devon and Cornwall
There are just a few towns along the coast, a few thousand people in the largest towns, they are situated on sheltered bays and coves along the coastline.

Isle of Skye or Pentland Firth area in Scotland is again just a few small towns.

Orkney capital is Kirwall, the better paddling is in the outlying villages.

Visit a few of these spots before you decide seakayak paddling paradise is close to home.

Also west coast of wales.

funny how best city
for SEA KAYAKING is mainly based on canals and lakes.

Guys, for crying out loud, what happen to the SALT WATER that generally defiens a “sea”.

I know that most folks use sea kayaks for not its intended primary use, but voting a land locked city almost a 1000 miles away from the sea as best sea kayaking place? Pleeaaase…


Maybe not best in world but
some of my favorites in US are

Corpus Christi, Tx (my hometown)

Pensacola, Fl

Savannah, Ga

Arcata/Eureka, Ca

Munising, Mi

Oak Harbor, (Whidbey Island) Wa

I am really ignorant of the NE coast so I am sure I am overlooking some great cities there.


Best City to paddle, Juneau AK

– Last Updated: Sep-08-08 1:00 AM EST –

Sure, I'm parochial, but Juneau is a great city to paddle from. We can leave from the beach down the street and be in wilderness in less than a day, paddle around Admiralty Island in two weeks and return to the same beach. The same could be said for Baranof, Chichagof and Krupernof Islands. Or how about a two day paddle to a salt water glacier? No permits and no crowds. A day paddle takes you to the Chilkat Peninsula and back (25 nm). The only thing we lack is a real kayak shop, but that just might be my retirement job.

I woke up 11 years ago in NYC and asked myself a simple question, " where can I move so I can paddle in wilderness without having to take a jet. First I considered Iqaluit and Nuuk - -great places to paddle but awful cities, also considered Main, but its too crowded, then I remembered Juneau where I spent the first 12 years of my life. So, I made a couple of calls and moved here with my kayaks.