Sprawled between the Pacific Ocean and the North Shore Mountains, Vancouver is the biggest city in the province of British Columbia. It’s also one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations with more than 10.3 million visitors a year. Fortunately, you don’t have to venture far from Vancouver’s downtown core to find great camping and kayaking in Deep Cove.
[This article is part of the The Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide To Vancouver. Find all the resources you need to plan an adventure-filled trip to the city of Vancouver.]
Spot seals, jellyfish and orcas. And keep your eye out for Hank The Heron, who has been known to take short rests on paddlers’ boards and boats.
When To Go
Though always uncrowded, Deep Cove is popular with kayakers in the summer months. For extra peace and quiet, explore during the shoulder season when the tourists have all returned home.
There are several outfitters in the area, but local paddleshop Deep Cove Kayak Center has the largest fleet of kayaks and paddleboards, and also runs guided trips.
Expect the wind to gain in the early afternoon and push north into Indian Arm. Paddlers will need solid skills in reading tides and currents and rescue techniques to venture beyond protected waters.
Hike up Quarry Rock, located at the north end of town. The view from the top of this former quarry area stretches out across the cove and can be reached in 45 breathless minutes.
Deep Cove is a Mecca for Paddlers
Just a 30-minute drive from downtown, Deep Cove is an oasis hidden from the bustling city. Tucked along the sheltered, 25-kilometer reach of the Indian Arm fjord, this captivating coastline wows paddlers with magnificent mountains, deserted beaches and idyllic islands.
Located at the base of Mount Seymour, the cove was once the traditional fishing area of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Today, tiny Deep Cove is popular with tourists and locals alike for its excellent kayaking, paddleboarding and camping. In the last three years, this hidden gem has exploded in popularity, but you can still jump in a kayak and paddle away to explore in search of seals and orcas.
Kayak Excursions from Deep Cove
If you have half a day:
Launch from the town and paddle to the south, crossing the channel near Hamber Island. Be wary of boat traffic in this short crossing. Then turn north and paddle toward Jug Island. From here, you’ll have an excellent view of the fjord with the mountains behind it.
If you have a full day:
Follow the directions above and stop for a picnic at picturesque Jug Island Beach. After lunch, continue into quiet Bedwell Bay to look for wildlife before making the return journey.
If you have a weekend:
Head north and paddle the length of Indian Arm. The round trip from Deep Cove is 38 kilometers, with overnight camping at beautiful Granite Falls and Berg’s Landing. View the historic Wigwam Inn, open only to members of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Extend your trip by a day to paddle the Indian River Estuary alongside seals and an array of bird life.
If you have a week:
The coastline of British Columbia offers limitless opportunity for exploration. However, to access more remote shores, Deep Cove paddlers would need to cross Vancouver’s busy shipping corridor. Instead, launch your kayak from nearby Horseshoe Bay and explore the bucket-list-worthy Sea To Sky Marine Trail, which hugs the mountainous coast of Howe Sound for 40 kilometers, all the way to Squamish.
This article was first published in Issue 60 of Paddling Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.
So close to Vancouver and a million miles away. | Feature photo: Dustin Silvey