ideas for first time BC trip?

i’m planning on making a trip to BC sometime this summer and would like some advice on places to go. i’ve researched the trip a bit and and think i want to concentrate on vancouver island. BUT, and a big but, i’m not completely set on that, hence the reason for asking. time and money(broke grad student) isn’t really an issue. thanks in advance. - zev

I’ve seen a couple of books on…
…BC paddling in my local public library. I’m sure yours, or the MSU library, might have them. I can get the titles if needed. Do you know about the 4-5 day supported trip this summer on the Jefferson/Missouri?

assuming you want to paddle
you would have a hard time finding nicer places than the gulf islands (canadian san juans), or barkley sound. desolation sound, further north on the mainland is also highly cool. on thing to remember about vancouver island itself is that lots of it are still actively logged, and frankly quite ugly. an area i haven’t done that is supposed to be realy nice is the “sunshine coast” section of the mainland north of vancouver (city).


Seakayking Adventures
has this trip to paddle to see the Kermode bears that I want to do sometime. Do a Google search and check out that trip.

BC Paddling
There’s really no bad areas to go. I’ve been to Johnstone Strait, and out to the edge of Queen Charlotte Strait, and it’s fantastic.

Johnstone Strait is a little crowded, but it’s still worth seeing, IMO. The Broken Island Group and Discovery Islands are nice, too. It’s hard to go wrong there.


no, what the missouri trip about?

…for this and other trips. Also,

has a fall trip on the Willamette.

Been all round the big island
and know it well after 15 years. I’d avoid the Gulf Islands or Johnstone area due to overcrowding and limited camping. Nice areas in the off season. My thinking is that if you are coming all this way, why not focus on the outer coast. The simplest area to access is Barkley Sound via Toquart Bay. Bang for buck, Barkley is hard to beat. Just gorgeous, and the camping fee of $5 a night Canadian seems to keep people away. It’s a place that absorbes people well too among it’s eight designated sites. It offers protected paddling along with some outer exposed play areas, great fishing, etc. Clayoquot Sound is less impressive to me, and far more crowded with lots of boat / plane traffic. Not as interesting an area to paddle. Nootka has potential, but I’d head further north to the Bunsby Islands. You can catch a water taxi that will take you out to the Bunsby’s and save you a day or two of slogging. From there it’s an easy paddle to the Brooks Peninsula which is awesome. This whole area is just amazing. Brooks north to Cape Scott is more exposed, and not great beginner country. Between Brooks and Winter Harbour you do see more logging, but it’s not too bad, as there’s plenty of awesomeness to see as well. I could go on and on, but my gut reaction is Barkley Sound, or the Bunsby Islands.

A lifetime of paddling open in BC
I’ve spent a couple of weeks each summer for the past 6 years paddling around Vancouver Island.

Johnson Straight is great. Crowed by BC terms is not very crowded. Put in at Telegraph Cove. A good knowledge of tides and currents is mandatory for every place except Desolation Sound. That is where the flood currents from the north and south meet midway up the inside of the island. No flushing due to lack of currents so the water is warm enough to swim. It’s called the Baja of the north. The warmest ocean waters in the Northwest. Probably around 70 degrees in July and August.

Barkley sound is a premier spot offering protected and exposed coast paddling. It is very crowed in July and August. There is an outfitter who will drop you off on the outer islands and pick you up later. Unfortunatley, this has opened up the outer islands to rookies who sit in camp all day when conditions get rough. IMHO, this has spoiled this destination. Better to go in June or September and beat the crowds.

Another great put in is in Tofino. Protected and very exposed choices. Camping is primative and bear precautions are needed.

There are literally hundreds of places to paddle. Emai me off line if you want more details and trip logistic suggestions.


thanks for all the great suggestions, i really appreciate the input. keep smiling and happy paddling!

we paddled Johnstone Straight…
…last summer and absolutely loved it.

We paddled with a pod of 13 Orcas for six miles, then camped on the beach next to their “rubbing beach”

As someone above said interior Vancouver Island was a big dissapointment. It has absolutely been raped by the logging companies.



Broken Islands is awesome. Anything north of Tofino is also terrific. A trip from Tofino to Hot Springs Cove is beautiful. Coastal kayaking is enjoyable but be prepared for adverse conditions - both sea and weather conditions.

Another vote for Johnstone Strait
You can leave from Telegraph cove.

Beautiful scenery, Dahl’s porpoises, bald eagles, river otters & Orcas.

I didn’t see any Orcas in '99 but my friends saw 50 a day in 2001.

Plus the fishing is great.