Vancouver Island

-- Last Updated: Aug-01-08 3:06 PM EST --

I am heading to Vancouver Island next week to paddle and I am looking for a multi-day trip for my wife and me. I paddle a Delta 15.5 expedition and my wife paddles a Necky Looksha V 17'. We are experienced paddlers but mainly on flatwater like lakes and sounds i.e. Puget. There are a plethora of trips to take and we will be paddling for about 8-9 days. I'd rather not go with a guide service as we are spending a lot of money just to get there (from Utah) and we are taking all of our own boats and gear.
I have looked at's places 2 paddle but I am not seeing anything that offers the information I am looking for. I will be looking online, in guidebooks, etc. I see this forum as another resource and would love to hear your collective thoughts.


– Last Updated: Aug-01-08 3:21 PM EST –

I’m a bit biased (and my apologies for the shameless plug) but try here for lots of suggestions:

And also look in the Trip Report section of the forums:

If you’re looking for specific infomation that is not listed on the site, ask in the forums – there’s a lot of people on the board who know the areas quite well.

Hope this helps,


Thanks, Dan. I will look at these sites and then ask some more specific questions.

Paddling Vancouver Island

…could talk for hours on this subject.

Make certain to take the Nanaimo ferry - and stock up on Nanaimo bars at the bakery!!!

Then, I’d drive through the island interior and go to Tofino - as a place to base from. Be aware that it’s on the ocean side - and that that may not work w/your plans. Also, be VERY aware of the tides. If you’re paddling through a bay - filled with little islands - and the tide happens to be going out - then every time you paddle out of the “shadow” of one of these little islands, it will feel like you’ve suddenly been dropped into a VERY swift river …headed out to sea! It’s as though somebody pulled the plug out in the ocean and all the water is cascading out of the bays and inlets. Be careful!

…BUT, that said …you are in for the time of your lives. Beautiful, wild - I could go on & on.


I’m sorry I have no first hand information to provide you with. I do have a link that gives general information about Vancouver trips:

If you have enough time, perhaps you can get one of these books from your library. If they don’t have them, they can get them from other libraries if it’s in the library system:

The Broken Islands trip looks interesting, being it says it’s in protected waters. Although, I would try to find out which trip (area) is the premier trip out of all of them.

I would love to hear about your trip when you get back. I live in WA and would like to do some kayaking around Vancouver Island, maybe next year as I’m pretty full up this year w/trips already planned.


Which side of the island?
If west side, Clayoquot or Barkley Sound (Broken Group) has the easiest access and world class paddling. Clayoquot can have some pretty good currents, especially right at Tofino. Both sounds are exposed to the ocean and out closer to the ocean, you’ll get a bit of swell action depending on swell direction and your location in the sound. Hot Springs Cove on the north end of Clayoquot Sound is often considered the best hot springs in BC with no smell water and various pools with individaul temps, nearly all with a view of the ocean. All the tourists go there, however. Broken Group is a great place to paddle with loud sea lion colony on Wouwer Island this time of year, whales, salmon…and lots of paddlers.

Perhaps the single best and I think most recent guidebook (great color pics and very good maps,etc.) at the moment is:

There is a great deal of on-line info on both of these Sounds. I’ll be at Hot Springs Cove later this month as part of a 100 mile trip along the west coast and am looking forward to it! Have fun and be safe!

Thanks for Sharing
westcoastpaddler, it’s so frustrating, I’m trying to pack for a camping/kayaking trip in WA starting this weekend and I really want to read every word you wrote. I guess I’ll have to wait until I get back. There’s nothing better than info from someone who has been there.

Your pics are fantastic! The bear, the starfish, eagle, Great Blue Heron, deer in water, really all of them. What fantastic memories for you and your daughter.

Thank you for sharing.


I’m going on the good side
I just don’t know which side that is! I am a bit overwhlemed by all the options, something I am not really used to, so this is a good problem to have. I am definitely heeding the warnings about the strong currents and I am hoping to find a happy medium of great paddling, wildlife, not too crowded, and I’d love to be closer to the ocean. The more I research this trip, the more I am finding out just how inexperienced I am. I have paddled a fair bit in the lower Puget Sound and in the Keats Island area but these places are quite protected. Thanks for all the information so far, keep it coming!

What a great link!
Thank you so much for sharing the information, the photos and the route of your journey super-imposed on your chart is helpful. I am liking the looks of the Broken Group more and more.

I’m not John Kimantas, just to be clear.

– Last Updated: Aug-01-08 8:08 PM EST –

Here's an link to Doug Alderson's book, which is a great resource as well:

Some shots from the west coast:

There's some other stuff in the other albums. Not much really, but enough to show what a great paddling destination this area is.

Shots from Desolation Sound at the north end of the 'Sunshine Coast' of mainland BC:

The saltwater is warm enough here (specifically at Curme Islands or Pendrel Sound) in summer to swim all day in it without wet/drysuit. Pendrel Sound has the record for the warmest water (in summer) in the northern hemisphere, north of the Gulf of Mexico. It's a great place to cruise with the wife or family in a typically much less dynamic environment than open ocean. Might be another option to consider on the east side of the island--more specifically across Georgia Strait from the island on the mainland BC side. Have fun!

Edit: Oh, I see now that you were probably replying to Dan's BGI trip report, even though you must've hit reply to my message. The West Coast Paddler site can be very helpful when researching trips like this. Great site.


– Last Updated: Aug-01-08 8:01 PM EST –

Maybe it would help if you could narrow down exactly what it is that you’re looking for.

Are you looking for big swell and waves, or something more sedate? Or both?

How far from Vancouver are you willing to drive?

Are you willing to take additional ferries?

Do you want crowds or not (chances are you’re not going to be alone unless you drive a long ways from Vancouver).

You sound like you have some experience but may not be comfortable in big water. If this is the case, and you don’t mind taking a ferry and driving a ways from Vancouver, I’d suggest the Broken Group or the Deer Group.

The Brokens offer a wide range of paddling for all skill levels (and the security of other people not being far away) but you’ll be camping with other people. Not so much that it’s crowded, but others will be around. The cost per person per night is just under $10, but there are outhouses – nice ones.

The Deer Group is about the same driving distance, but a little more effort to get to (you have to drive 50 + miles on a decent dirt road to Bamfield), it’s a long chain of islands (as opposed to a big group of islands like the Brokens), there are no camping fees but no amenities either, and a lot fewer people. It’s absolutely gorgeous there.

If you prefer, you can eliminate some of the driving by taking a ferry service from Port Alberni to either Sechart (for the Broken Group) or Bamfield (for the Deer Group). The ferry is very reasonably priced and they take kayaks. You can get info for the service here:

If you want a bit less road travel to your paddling destination, I’d recommend the Gulf Islands – they’re quite beautiful and the campsites are all nice.


email me off line and you’ll be set!

Broken Group is fantastic
My daughter and I recently returned from a nine day trip in the Brokens. Here’s the trip report:

Then, there’s also the nearby Deer Group (a favourite of mine):

There’s also Clayquot Sound, The Broughton Archipelago, Brooks Penninsula, and of course if you’re looking for something a bit tamer (but no less spectacular) you couuld also consider the Gulf Islands.