Top Ten Canada Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Sea Kayak Clayquot Sound
By Bill McRae
Vancouver Island's densely forested shores
Sailing with a porpoise: Explore the Emerald Coast by boat

It's one of the most rugged coastlines in North America: Draped with old-growth forests, rocky headlands collide with the surging Pacific Ocean in a seascape of cedar-crowned islands, deep fjords, misty sounds, and vast sand beaches. The land around Clayquot Sound, midway up Vancouver Island, holds one of the last and largest virgin tracts of old-growth temperate rain forests in North America. In other words, it's the perefect place for sea kayaking.

You depart from the coastal resort hamlet of Tofino and cut deep into the mountains of Vancouver Island. Protected from the surging Pacific by a series of verdant islands, the sound is an area of vast diversity and beauty: wild, sandy beaches; quiet waterways amid green forested islands; and deep inlets surrounded by mountains and rushing rivers. Along the way, you're likely to brush up against porpoises, killer whales, and seals; bald eagles may glide overhead. In fall and spring, you may see gray whales sounding as they migrate along the coast.

Plan on five or six days. Although no special kayaking skills are required, this isn't for beginners on their own: Tides are powerful around the islands, and weather along the Pacific coast is notoriously variable.


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