Coastal Tranquility: Eight Great Sea Kayaking Spots

British Columbia: Inside Passage Orca Sea Kayaking Odyssey

The sheltered waters of the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia provide a near-perfect venue for kayak touring. The summer weather is warm, calm, and dry, and there are hundreds of great campsites along the remote stretches of the B.C. coast. Navigating the hundreds of inlets and small islands between Vancouver and the northern coast, the kayaker enjoys unrivalled natural beauty and close contact with wildlife. Eagles soar overhead, and schools of porpoises are common. The big thrill, however, is interacting with the orcas. Attracted by the mass summer salmon runs, over 200 orcas visit the Inside Passage each summer, traveling in family groups called pods. Sea kayakers can accompany an orca pod for days, often venturing within a paddle's distance of the big creatures. Experienced tour leaders can often identify particular whales, which return to the same waters each year. Some operators even fit its kayaks with microphones so you can hear the whales communicate.
Navigate the Johnstone Strait near Robson Bight, where the largest groups of orcas congregate. It's not uncommon for the paddlers to see whales every day, and most trips also feature day-hikes in nearby forests, eagle-watching, and salmon-fishing.

Another outstanding sea kayak tour leads kayak cruises through British Columbia's Inside Passage (Queen Charlotte Straight), and along the west coast of Vancouver Island (Barclay Sound, Clayoquot Sound), in addition to outings designed for maximum exposure to the whales.
Practically Speaking
Most trips last roughtly a week and run eek from mid-June through mid-September, and cost about $1,000, all-inclusive. If you're yearning for more exposure to the whales, consider a tour designed especially for experienced kayakers, which takes you to the more remote and wild stretches of the British Columbia coast. Most of the campsites are abandoned Indian villages, and the paddling will be a little more strenuous than on the Inside Passage trips.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 31 Jan 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver

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