Story by Katie Marti
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — It’s no secret that the outdoor recreation scene in Vancouver is among the most diverse in the country. With mountains to ski and ride, trails to run and hike, and dozens of parks and beaches scattered from one end of the city to the other, there’s certainly no shortage of options for getting out and about on the west coast. One such option that is becoming more and more popular among tourists and locals alike is kayaking the scenic bays and inlets surrounding Vancouver.
Ecomarine Paddling Centre has been offering a wide variety of guided tours for everyone from first-timers to seasoned veterans since 1980. There are three points of departure around the city, offering flexibility and convenience when planning a trip. Leave from the boat launch on Granville Island and paddle the serene waters of False Creek, gliding past iconic landmarks like the illuminated globe at Telus World of Science and Vancouver’s newly renovated BC Place. Or, if Stanley Park is on the agenda, put in at English Bay in the West End and follow the seagulls and harbour seals around the seawall that lines the park. From the west side of the city, tours depart from Jericho Beach and cross English Bay toward downtown Vancouver, putting you front and centre as the sun sparkles and sets against the mountains and city skyline.
Jeanine Longley works for Ecomarine Paddling Centre helping people choose and book tours to suit their needs and skill level. According to her, the half-day tours are very popular among tourists during the summer season with the majority of customers being relative newcomers to sea kayaking.
“With us, taking a tour on the water is easy thanks to our starting points on English Bay and Granville Island,” says Longley. She adds that all of their guides are Paddle Canada-certified instructors with a high level of skill and knowledge of the sport and, specifically, of paddling in and around Vancouver. “It’s pretty unique,” she says. “I don’t think there’s anywhere else on the west coast where you can kayak right through downtown.”
Ecomarine kayak tours include all the necessary gear and safety equipment for a day spent sightseeing at sea level. The cost per tour starts at $65 per person and trips run daily from the beginning of June through to the middle of September. Longley recommends booking at least a week in advance once the summer weather heats up in order to ensure availability on the tour of your choice. For more information or to book a tour, call 1-888-425-2925, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.ecomarine.com.
PADDLING OUTSIDE OF VANCOUVER
For those looking to get out of the city and paddle in a more remote wilderness location, there is a sleepy little community 20 kilometres down the road called Deep Cove. Tucked away on a stretch of Indian Arm off the Burrard Inlet, Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak offers rentals, lessons and guided tours in a quiet, peaceful setting only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Family owned and operated, the company just celebrated 30 years in business in 2011 and its owners have made a name for themselves as local experts on the water.
Visitors can choose from a variety of tours, including sunrise and moonlight paddles, all of which are guaranteed to showcase the abundant marine life and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Supervisor Amy Harris recommends the three-hour Deep Cove Explorer trip that runs daily, although she cautions that it does tend to fill up quite quickly during peak seasons. She attributes her company’s growing success in part to scenery that is “simply amazing.”
She adds, “It’s like paddling in paradise.”
Harris also speaks highly of the company’s guides who are keen and passionate about paddling, in addition to having a ton of interesting knowledge to share about the history, geography and wildlife in and around Deep Cove.
As with Ecomarine Paddline Centre, customers of Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak will have all gear and equipment included in the price. Tours begin at $80 per adult and $50 per child. The season is in full swing and summer tours run until the end of August, with some continuing right through to the end of October. To book a tour, call the rental office at 604-929-2268.
Regardless of where you choose to paddle, spending a bit of time on the water is an absolute must when visiting the west coast. Whether it’s in the middle of downtown Vancouver or out in idyllic Deep Cove, there’s bound to be a kayak tour to float your boat.