Kayaks were originally built by hunters hoping to sneak up on their prey. On A Paddle in the Park Kayaking’s guided tours, passengers use the boats for a similarly furtive purpose, sneaking up on wildlife such as harbour seals and mute swans—but nowadays, the goal is usually to snap candid pictures of the diverse flora and fauna.
Photography is encouraged on the scenic tours, which explore the archipelago of gulf islands near Sidney, British Columbia, surrounded by clear shallows, kelp gardens, and plentiful wildlife. The varied tours range from a sunset trip, which showcases views of Mount Baker, to a full-day tour that highlights impressive rock formations rather than the most common rock formation, a pebble stuck in a shoe's heel. Kayak rentals complement the tours, allowing for independent exploration, and lessons cover topics from paddling basics to self-rescue.
At age 5, second-generation islander Johannes and his father paddled along San Juan Island, their kayaks crossing paths with troops of orca whales. This foray ignited the young adventurer?s twin passions for kayaking and stewardship. Now, Johannes? team of outdoor enthusiasts deftly navigates the waters surrounding San Juan Island, imparting knowledge of marine wildlife to paddlers. Guides not only skim the region?s waterways, but lead expeditions across the islands during multiday tours. Groups may paddle along remote islands in search of seabirds and lost tugboat captains, and then hop on bicycles to pedal down rural back roads dotted with lavender and alpaca farms.
With the waves of Victoria Harbour’s Selkirk Waters lapping just below their headquarters, Switch Bridge Tours’ staff leads bicycle and kayak tours of Victoria and Vancouver Island’s waterways. The business’s proximity to the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails facilitates tours on frequently tuned-up bikes that venture into the Cowichan Valley or along the Saanich Peninsula. Kayaks cease their giant kazoo impressions long enough to cut through the Tod Inlet and the Inner Harbour on beginner or advanced tours. Each experienced guide is certified in First Aid and CPR.
Rated one of the Top 10 resorts in Canada and Victoria by Conde Nast's Readers Choice in 2013, Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa is a picturesque destination to enjoy ocean views, comfy beds, roaring fireplaces—and of course, the great outdoors. A variety of packages take the guesswork out of enjoying the surroundings by including amenities such as canoe rentals, narrated cruises through the Cove, and even romantic couples' massages.
Located where the Caren and Richardson mountain ranges slip into the Pacific Ocean, Pedals and Paddles sits on spectacular trailheads for hiking, camping, and kayaking. When paddling through the crystal-clear inlet waters on kayaks or standup paddleboards in guided or self-guided tours, clients can gaze at the ocean floor to commune with seafaring creatures such as starfish, sea cucumbers, and—if they're lucky—dolphins and orcas. Explorers can also camp on the beaches at Piper Point, Tuwanek Beach, or Oyster Beach, where they can sleep in between swimmable waters and the towering pines of the mountains.
Operated by the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society, Dragon Zone Dragon Boat Paddling Club makes it easy for people to experience the ancient art of dragon boating, as well as many other types of paddle sports. In addition to 10- and 20-foot dragon boats, the club equips guests with marathon canoes, six-person outriggers, one-person outriggers, and kayaks.
For those who are new to dragon boating, Dragon Zone Dragon Boat Paddling Club offers four-week classes that introduce basic techniques and get students used to working as a team. More specialized workshops supplement foundational skills with more advanced instruction, which is especially useful for anyone who decides to join a racing team.