Want to see Vancouver from a brand-new perspective? Get in a kayak to view the city from the water. It gets you closer to nature and gives you a bit of exercise too. Vancouver is a coastal city with lots of nearby lakes, so there are lots of places to go kayaking. Sign up for a tour or a lesson, or rent a kayak (and safety gear), then explore the water on your own.
Here are 10 beautiful places to go kayaking near Vancouver. They all have kayaks on site so can get on the water right away.
One of the benefits of having a city surrounded by water is that you can kayak in the heart of downtown. Launch a kayak at Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre or Vancouver Water Adventures on Granville Island to explore False Creek. (That’s the narrow inlet that divides Yaletown from the Fairview neighbourhood.) You’ll get rare waterside views of BC Place Stadium, Science World, Olympic Village, and unique floating homes. The protected waters and low motorboat traffic make it a great destination for beginners.
On hot summer days, Kitsilano Beach (known as “Kits Beach” to locals) is one of the most popular places to soak up some sun or play beach volleyball. Escape the crowds in a kayak. You can paddle the shoreline in either direction. Head west for some close-up views of Vancouver’s prime waterfront homes. Paddle east to head under the bridges into protected False Creek – just watch carefully for boat traffic. During the summer, rent a kayak from Vancouver Water Adventures at the north end of the beach.
Located on the west side of the city, Jericho Beach is a great place for a casual paddle. Kayak past the sandy beaches of Spanish Banks and towards the quieter gravel shores of forested Pacific Spirit Park. With eagles circling above and herons fishing near shore, you’ll almost forget you’re still in the city. Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre has a kayak rental kiosk on the beach in the summer months.
Cates Park is also known as Whey-Ah-Wichen (which means ‘facing the wind‘) in the Tsleil-Waututh language. It’s a great place to learn about First Nations culture and heritage. After you admire the totem poles, rent a kayak at the paddling centre and kayak along the shoreline or over towards Deep Cove. If you want a richer cultural experience, book a tour with a Tsleil-Waututh guide through Takaya Tours.
Locals love to kayak at Deep Cove in North Vancouver. Beginners can explore the shoreline around the calm bay. If you are more adventurous, head across the inlet to Belcarra Regional Park. You can explore Jug Island or pull in at the Belcarra Picnic Area for a break. Deep Cove is also the launch point for overnight trips up Indian Arm, a beautiful ocean fjord. You can stay at primitive campsites in Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park, deep in the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Get outfitted at Deep Cove Kayak Centre.
Hop on the ferry for the short ride to Bowen Island. Once there, walk over to Bowen Island Sea Kayaking, grab a kayak and slip into the waters of Howe Sound. It’s a deep fjord surrounded by forested mountains and dotted with rocky islands. Explore the shoreline of Bowen Island or head further out to visit Gambier Island or Keats Island. Keep in mind that the town of Squamish at the head of Howe Sound roughly translates as “Mother of the Wind” in the local Skwxwu7mesh language. That means it can get really windy in this area. Beginners should stick close to shore or go with a guide.
If you’re looking for the calmest water around, head to Deer Lake in Burnaby. This little lake is hidden in the middle of the city, surrounded by forest and wetlands. With its small size and lack of motorboat traffic, Deer Lake is a great destination for family kayaking. Watch for endangered Western painted turtles in the shallows. Rent a kayak at the east end of the lake. They have canoes and pedal boats too.
Explore the quieter end of Burrard Inlet in Port Moody. Launch your kayak at Rocky Point Park, then explore the shoreline at the end of the inlet. If you’re lucky you may see seals with their pups. If you want to head further afield, paddle west to Belcarra Provincial Park, or even further to Deep Cove or Indian Arm. Rocky Point Kayak is located in the parking lot. They have rentals, lessons and tours.
Head out to Maple Ridge to paddle at Alouette Lake. Take a relaxed kayak tour along the shoreline to visit the main beaches at the southern end. If you’re more adventurous, head down the lake to the narrows where there is a backcountry campsite. You’ll be sharing the lake with motorized traffic and it can get pretty windy, so use caution. Rent a kayak at the day use area at the south end of the lake.
Alice Lake in Squamish is a popular family destination for picnics and swimming. It’s a great place for relaxed kayaking. The small lake is beginner friendly, but it is still big enough to offer enough little nooks and crannies for exploring around the shoreline. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard from the kiosk in the main day use area.