Kayaking in the Gulf Islands: Salt Spring Island

Kayaking in the Gulf Islands is one of the most popular kayak destinations in the world. I love that we can enjoy this experience as a whole family.

Salt Spring is one of the gorgeous Gulf Islands that is nestled just a 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver Island. It is one of over 2000 islands off the coast of Vancouver Island and in the waters between Canada and the United States.

Our Salt Spring kayak adventure started in Ganges, home to the impressive Saturday Summer Market. We had never tried kayaking as a family before, so we contacted a Salt Spring adventure company to show us how it’s done.

- Advertisement -

Kayaking in the Gulf Islands is one of the top activities to do while visiting Vancouver Island or any of the Gulf Islands for that matter. People come from across Canada and all over the world to enjoy our pristine waters and lush sea life on the West Coast.

There are definitely benefits to going with a guide on a trip like this. We were all outfitted with life jackets, paddles, and even spray skirts (for those of us who wanted one) and someone to show us the ropes.  After a quick lesson on land to explain how to best hold our paddle and use it in the water, we were off to find our kayaks.

Our numbers worked great. Each of our kids rode in a double kayak with an adult and was able to learn how to paddle with a stronger person behind them.

We started our 4-hour Salt Spring kayak tour in the harbour, paddling around the sailboats, fishing boats, and yachts and made our way along a lane of smaller islands. Just minutes into the tour, I was already in awe of the surrounding beauty.

As we paddled passed various islands, our guide gave us a bit of the history of the land. There was “Dead Man’s Island” (yes, my dear boy, it’s the stuff of your nightmares), then there were the tamer islands owned by various insanely wealthy people like the island completely owned by one couple who couldn’t decide whether to build a house with a view of the sunrise or a sunset so they built two houses!

There were even islands with some fascinating geology. That’s one of the benefits of a guide for sure, you get all your random island questions answered. You have to be careful though, with a guide. Sometimes you get one who doesn’t know when to be quiet and just let you enjoy the experience.

One option if you don’t want a guided experience and you feel confident going out on your own is by going the rental route, or at the time of booking just let them know your guide preference and that works, too.

Blue-er than blue water and a sun gorgeously beating down…had I not known better, I would have thought we were somewhere tropical.

Our kayak journey took us to Chocolate Beach, which can be a bit misleading.

Well at least to Jay, because for some reason he got in his head that eating speciality decadent chocolates was part of the tour. No chocolate here, just a pristine stark white sandy beach which definitely made up for the lack of chocolate, according to Jay.

As we took a break here, staring out over the pristine cool waters, enjoying (yes, enjoying) a potty break at the cutest outhouse you’ll ever see, and swinging on a seat built for two, our guide pulled out chocolate chip cookies, juice, tea and hot chocolate! Yum.

So there was chocolate after all!

Just what we all needed to give us the boost to paddle on back to Ganges harbour.

The journey back showed its wear on the children, but we were glad for our family adventure on the water. Though the kids continued to paddle, we could tell they were a little tuckered out. Well actually, the older two paddled just fine while the 6-year-old sat in luxury in front of Jay while Daddy did all the work!

Oh, to be the youngest.

This particular adventure left me wishing for more and to one day extend it to a multi-day family Gulf Islands kayak trip. I hear those day trips adventures do that to people as you get hooked for more!

For now, this day trip adventure will suffice. It was just what we needed to help us slow down and enjoy the beauty in nature together as a family.

5 Things to Know Before You Go:

1. Get ready for some exercise. You’ll want to be somewhat physically fit to go ocean kayaking. Not so fit you’re running marathons, but fit enough to spend a couple hours paddling. In our case, we had to work a bit harder as the children weren’t as strong as an adult, but we were still able to paddle no problem.

2. How old do your kids need to be? Great question, glad you asked. Kids can do this too, BUT if they are young, be prepared to do the extra paddling. Our kids were 9,7 & 6 at the time. Our 6 year old was our little non-paddling passenger, but that was okay. He still had fun. Double kayaks are great for this reason. They allow kids to still have the experience and learn how to do it, all the while having a great bonding experience with mom or dad.

3. The art of guiding. When to talk and when not to talk…that is the question. Some people love to learn all the extra information about the area, while others enjoy a more peaceful and quiet experience. Make sure you communicate your type of guide preference at the time of booking.

4. Do I need to bring anything with me? Salt Spring Adventure Company has you covered and pretty much provides everything you need. Just show up with weather appropriate attire, a water bottle and you’re ready to go! Dry bags are provided in case you are really nervous about getting something wet. Jay kept his camera out pretty much the whole time with no issues.

5. Accept the spray skirt. Who would have known my kids had such an aversion to getting drips of water on their laps while kayaking!

Vancouver Island's Parenting Resource