Our plan

Like all of our travel plans, our plans for kayaking around Vancouver Island include one part hard, researched facts of places we need to go to and places best avoided either all the time or at certain times for tidal channels. From these hard, researched facts, we set a very loose timeline that we acknowledge is as fragile wooden tower in a Jenga game. It’s a structure but it is always changing and there are lots of contributing factors. Travel plans, writer Kurt Vonnegut says, are bizarre dancing lessons from God. Our travel plan is one part a rough itinerary, one part opportunity to meet and experience unexpected things on the way, one part luck and a whole lot of flexibility to glue it all together.

A madrona (arbutus) tree in the Gulf Islands in the southeast region of Vancouver Island. This area has a nice warm, drier climate and protected waters making for nice paddling but lots of other people love this area too and most land is private
A madrona (arbutus) tree in the Gulf Islands in the southeast region of Vancouver Island. This area has a nice warm, drier climate allowing for plants like the madrona tree to flourish here. The climate and protected waters makes for nice paddling but lots of other people love this area too. The challenge here is that most land is private

We plan on taking a ferry over to Swartz Bay by Victoria. There we will spend one week kayaking through the Gulf Islands up to Nanaimo. The southern inside portion of our kayak around Vancouver Island is going to be easiest in terms of paddling conditions but hardest in terms of finding camping since a lot of the coastline is privately owned. We are looking for hosts who have property on the coastline and are willing to let us camp in their yard for the night. If this is you and you’re interested in hosting us either on the southeastern part or anywhere on Vancouver Island, we would be very excited to meet you! Contact me at my email: Maggie.m.woo@gmail.com.

Orca at the north end of Vancouver Island
Orca at the north end of Vancouver Island

If the Vancouver Island coastline between Nanaimo and Campbell River remains a camping desert, we’ll hop over to Lasqueti and Texada Island and then work our way towards the Discovery Islands where Vancouver Island and the mainland blur in a myriad of islands. We paddled through Desolation Sound and the Yucuta and Dent rapids around Stewart Island last time when we kayaked up to Alaska so this time, we want to try paddling around Quadra Island. We will then travel along Johnston Strait, pass the orca reserve at Robson Bight, by Alert Bay, which is a thriving center for Kwakwaka’waka culture.

Now, we’re heading towards the infamous north end of the island where strong winds and waves ravage the headlands. However, before we get to the stunningly beautiful yet a spot to exercise caution Cape Scott at the northernmost tip, we will pass through God’s Pocket famed for its rich underwater life.

Kayaking in the quiet channels in the back of Clayoquot  Sound
Kayaking in the quiet channels in the back of Clayoquot Sound

On the west side of Vancouver Island, it will be a series of sounds interspersed with headlands. We will be paddling through, from north to south, Quatsino Sound, Kyuquot Sound, Nootka Sound, Clayoquot Sound and then finally Barkley Sound. Soon after Barkley Sound and the Pacific Rim National Reserve, Vancouver Island tucks in behind the Olympic Pennisula of Washington State. This wild west coast of Vancouver Island will feature rugged fjords, lush temperate rainforest, sandy beaches and a lot of wilderness. As we get closer to the south end of the island, urbanity returns especially as we get close to British Colombia’s provincial capital of Victoria. From Victoria, we will head back to Swartz Bay, coming full circle all the way around Vancouver Island.

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For more details on the routes, click here

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A summer of paddling 1100km around the island

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