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.
Whether paddling out on their own atop a rented board or within eyesight of a Paddle Canada?certified instructor, visitors to Epic Surf Co quickly lose themselves to the sound of seagulls and gently lapping waters. With the mist-covered mountains standing guard on the horizon, paddlers are regularly joined by the region?s natives such as eagles, river otters, and sea lions as they make their way past crescent-shaped beaches and coves.
Back on dry land, Epic Surf instructors sign guests up for lessons on the basics of stand-up paddleboarding, advanced skills, and SUP surfing. Techs within an on-site custom shop bring 23 years of experience to their board repair and artwork, and the surf shop showcases all the wares of their trade, including wetsuits and paddles that double as lances for on-the-water jousts.
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.
When Chinese native Ada Wang isn't working as an education assistant, she takes to Chinatown's enigmatic streets to educate the public on the district's vibrant history. As a guide for Oldest Chinatown Walking Tours, the long-term Victoria resident leads tours across the threshold of Bright Pearl's vibrantly coloured, traditional pagoda arch into the busy streets and through the infamous Fan Tan Alley, which is widely regarded as the narrowest street in North America and all of Mars. As she strolls, she teaches guests about the history of Victoria's Chinatown and the brave immigrant families that once called it home, explains any Chinese symbols she comes across, and tells tales from Chinese folklore.