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We’ve got a whole lot of waterfront, so pack your ’yak and get on top of our fine ocean. In Vancouver, we’ve got the hookup for any type of paddle — from a lazy float to spots for a daylong cabrewing (canoe + icy-cold brew) adventure to whitewater rapids.
Rentals are made easy in the warmer months; beach shack outposts at Jericho, Kitsilano, or English Bay Beach will set you up with a rig for some easy, breezy, beachy paddling. Looking for something in the off-season or away from the tourists? Check the list below of the best spots to go kayaking in Vancouver and get out there.
Here’s your chance to see the city from sea-level. Admire the cityscape as you kayak under bridges and dodge all manner of sailboats, dragon boats, and yachts cruising through False Creek. If you need your own ’yak to do so, there are a couple of outfitters in the bay to check out: Creekside Kayaks in Olympic Village, and Vancouver Water Adventures or Ecomarine Paddlesport Centre on Granville Island. Fitt Tip: Granville Island is where you want to go for off-season rentals (most beachfront rental shacks are only open during the summer).
Herons, beavers, and rainbow trout all call Deer Lake home. It’s surprising then that it’s situated in central Burnaby. Deer Lake is small enough that powerboats are not allowed, but big enough for an afternoon paddle around the lake lined with native vegetation and picnic spots. Off the water, the surrounding park offers a ton of heritage activities and walking trails to check out.
Deep Cove is the perfect launch point to explore all 20km of Indian Arm — whether you’re in for a lazy cruise to Cates Park, or the long haul up to Granite Falls or Wigwam Inn. The Deep Cove Kayak Shop or the Cates Park Paddling Centre will both set you up with rentals, lessons, or a launch beach for your own boat. Looking for a quick power-paddle? Join the Tuesday Night Races — any human-powered paddle craft is welcome, but arrive early if your skiff of choice is a rental.
Belcarra Park is directly across Indian Arm from Deep Cove and offers a different viewpoint of the same beautiful coastline. And this spot is a shoo-in if Port Moody is closer to home than Deep Cove. Rocky Point Kayak has your rental needs covered (and is a short walk to the strip of breweries bringing cool to the suburbs). Again, check out the waterfront along Belcarra Park or pack snacks for a secluded day trip up Indian Arm.
Tired of urban views from the water? Head up the Sea to Sky Highway to get your salty currents among the postcard-perfect nature that is Howe Sound. Paddle from the Lion’s Bay Marina or Porteau Cove (the only public access boat launch along the highway) to Anvil Island, or head further north past Furry Creek to spot a pictograph-painted rock face. Remember: Howe Sound can quickly turn into a wind tunnel, so always check the weather before you head out there, people.
Just a 45-minute drive out of Vancouver, Squamish offers the most kayaking options, from chill lake floats to extreme whitewater rapids and a slalom race course. Choose from a calm drift around Alice Lake, salty currents in Howe Sound (see above!), or all levels of whitewater kayaking. Beginners will head to the Squamish River or Mamquam River, while experts or guided tours take on the higher-grade rapids further out of town.
To be honest, all you need is a floatie and a couple cold drinks for this laid-back, foliage-lined river in Whistler. Backroads Whistler will set you up with a kayak and a guide, but you can easily BYO-yak and launch from the park at Alta Lake. The river is super-chill but can be quite narrow and shallow depending on the season. If you’re going it alone, drop a car and arrange a ride from the end point at Green Lake, or catch a bus from the Meadow Park Sports Centre.
Start at the Nicomekl Rowing Club in Surrey and make your way past farms and homes until the river spits you out into Mud Bay. The waters in front of Crescent Beach offer views of the far-off North Shore Mountains and are a favourite for bird-watchers. Need a rental? Sea to Sky Adventure Company on Blackie Spit has you covered.
Fraser River might be better known as a brown, industrial waterway, but there are protected wetlands worth checking out. From the Ladner Boat Launch, you can explore the Deas Island, South Arm Marshes, or paddle the tributaries that separate Barber Island from Kirkland Island. You’ll see floating homes, marinas, and one of dozens of migratory birds that pass through the sheltered estuary every year.
Pitt Lake takes all the glory as far as lakes go — British Columbia’s second largest lake is also one of the world’s few tidal lakes. The 25km-long lake is framed by Golden Ears Park and Garibaldi Park, so the views are insane. Start your water-top journey at the Pitt Lake Boat Launch (where you’ll also find rentals), and definitely consider the kayak-hike-waterfall combo from the Widgeon Creek Campsite to the otherwise-inaccessible waterfall for an ultimate outdoors day.