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 the most sought-after places to live in Canada and one of its 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 access wild waters.
Spot seals, jellyfish and orcas. And keep your eye out for Hank The Heron, who has been known to take short rests on paddlers’ boats.
When To Go
Though always uncrowded, Deep Cove is popular 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 (deepcovekayak.com) has the largest fleet of kayaks and paddleboards, and also runs guided trips.
In the early afternoon, expect the wind to gain 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.
Just a 30-minute drive from downtown, kayaking mecca Deep Cove is an oasis hidden from bustling city life. Tucked along the 25-kilometer reach of the Indian Arm fjord, its sheltered waters and 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. In the last three years, this hidden gem has exploded in popularity, however, you can still jump in a kayak and paddle away, all while exploring the area in search of seals and orcas.
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 towards 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 is 38 kilometers, with options to camp overnight at beautiful Granite Falls and Berg’s Landing, and view the historic Wigwam Inn, open only to members of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Extend your trip by a day to explore the Indian River Estuary alongside seals and an array of birdlife.
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 from nearby Horseshoe Bay and explore the bucket-list-worthy Sea To Sky Marine Trail (seatoskymarinetrail.ca), which hugs the mountainous coast of Howe Sound for 40 kilometers, all the way to Squamish.
So close to Vancouver and a million miles away. | Featured photo: Dustin Silvey