Vancouver is one of the most beautiful and stunning North American cities located in the middle of lush green mountains surrounded by some of the best nature, lakes, river basin and beachside, making it a perfect spot for kayaking and canoeing. Here freelance writers, bloggers and travellers all across the globe visit either for tourism purposes, kayaking, snowboarding or staycation.
With ample of picturesque lakes backed by calm and crystal water and forest-clad mountains, kayaking and canoeing in Vancouver will surely give you a surreal experience. It’s a perfect destination to help visitors rejuvenate and destress from the daily hustle and bustle on their Canadian Holiday.
However, if you are going kayaking in Vancouver for the first time, you might be confused with regard to places, rentals, lakes, where you find kayaks and so much more questions might be popping into your head.
So, if you are looking for a one-stop guide on kayaking in Vancouver, this is it. This 4000+ word guide covers everything about canoeing in Vancouver.
Here’s what it covers.
1. Weather kayaking in Vancouver is safe or not?
2. Places for kayak rentals in Vancouver
3. Best lakes for kayaking in Vancouver
4. Cost of kayaking in Vancouver
5. Accessories are needed for kayaking and so much more.
Is kayaking safe in Vancouver?
Before moving ahead in the blog section, let us first clear the question of whether kayaking is safe in Vancouver or not. This is the question that specifically arises in the mind of tourist who comes to Vancouver for paddling, kayaking or canoeing.
The short answer to this question is YES. Vancouver is 100% safe for kayaking, canoeing and carrying out any other water sport activity. Most part of Vancouver is without crimes. Of course, normal crimes like pickpockets are fine but there is always a police station nearby to file a complaint. Personal safety while travelling in any part of Vancouver is guaranteed, especially when you are speaking to residents. That being said, Vancouver is not without problems.
The major concern while kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver is its weather condition, which is the only drawback of the city. Especially in winter when every damn lake on the city is frozen you cannot expect to kayak.
However, you can try your hands with winter sports activities which include: snowboarding, skiing, winter kayaking, ice fishing, ice skating and a lot more.
Kayak safety tips in Vancouver:
Here are some kayak safety tips in Vancouver that you must follow for a safe and sound ride.
1. Wear a kayak or paddling life jacket
This is the first thing that you should be having while kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver. Not only in Vancouver, but you must also have the right PFD or paddling jacket while kayaking in any city, lake or river. This jacket will safeguard you in case you tip-off from the kayak, especially if you don’t know swimming.
While buying a kayaking life jacket, make sure it is approved by USA coastal guard association.
2. Don’t drink and paddle
Kayaking requires concentration and focus. So, make sure that you don’t drink and paddle around. This is especially true for beginner-level paddlers who don’t know swimming. Also, you might get penalized for drink paddling in some lakes of Vancouver as they follow strict rules and regulations there.
3. Keep kayaking accessories
Get yourself loaded with all relevant and essential gear and accessories for kayaking in Vancouver. Make sure all your gear and tools are in working condition before heading to the kayak. If you are having a small-size kayak then opt for a kayak dry storage bag or a cooler to store all your gear and accessories. A backpack is also a good option and you might get it with inflatable kayaks.
4. Dress for immersion
Whenever and wherever you are kayaking, you have to be in a dress code as per the weather conditions. This is especially true when you are planning for kayaking activity in cold water which can quickly lead to hyperthermia. So, if you are kayaking on cold water you need to be more cautious and wear warmer clothes or dry suits.
5. Know the map
The next safety tip for canoeing in Vancouver is the know the lake or river map by heart. This is the most important safety tip as you would not like to get lost in the middle of a lake or river. So, get a local lake map at which you’ll be kayaking. You can also get a tour guide for more hassle-free kayaking and paddling.
6. GPS system
The last thing which you need for safety is a GPS system. If you don’t want to buy a kayak map or hire a guide, opt for a simple GPS system that should suffice on your end. GPS system will give you pinpoint location details, depth of water, nearby kayaking places in Vancouver and lot more details. You can also opt for a fish finder along with a GPS system for more fun and adventure.
Why should you visit Vancouver for kayaking?
1. People are polite
Vancouver has got the most diverse range of population and more than 40% of the population in the city are immigrants from other countries like India, China, UK and more. The people living in Vancouver are very polite and friendly. Besides, they are very welcoming, helpful and open-minded, which is a big plus point while you are kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver.
You can easily ask anyone for help without any hesitation and get the best help for sure.
2. Loads of places for kayaking
The other reason to visit Vancouver for canoeing is that you’ll find ample of opportunities for carrying out not just kayaking but also any other water sport activity. Some of the most famous beaches included Kitsilano Beach, Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach, Sunset Beach and Second Beach which are best for kayaking and canoeing.
3. Amazing weather
One more reason to visit Vancouver for kayaking is because of its weather conditions. Most of the parts of Vancouver are a lot better as compared to other Canadian cities. Vancouver does not get snowfall in winter, which is a plus point especially if you are planning for a kayaking session here.
Its summers are also quite mild, with average temperatures around 77F (25C) and long, sun-filled days. Vancouver also gets to experience all four seasons, so visit in spring or fall to see the blooming trees or falling leaves.
4. Market & kayak rentals are available
There are loads of street food markets, and kayaking rentals available in Vancouver. The biggest one is Richmond Night Market with over 100 food vendors, 200+ retail shops, carnival games, kayaking and paddle board rentals and carnival games as well.
Besides this, in the Northern side of Vancouver, you’ll come across the famous Shipyard night market which is famous for clothing, antiques, collectables and handmade products. Last but not the least, the Granville Island Public Market is a must-visit, especially if you want to try some local Vancouver Cuisine, food and drinks.
5. Summer festival
The next reason why you should visit Vancouver for kayaking is because of its exciting summer festivals. The biggest festival is the three-day Celebration of Light, which involves a fireworks competition between the three countries.
There is also something called Bard on the beach, which is all about celebrating British Columbia outdoors, and also includes paddle boarding competitions, kayaking tours, boating events, wakeboarding, surfing and a lot more.
6. Other cities and town
Another reason why you should go to Vancouver for canoeing is that you can also sightsee some beautiful attractions, sea-to-sky highways, Squamish and whistler.
Vancouver kayaking map:
Best places for kayaking in Vancouver
Hunting for the best places for kayaking, canoeing and boating in Vancouver. There are many places for kayaking in Vancouver, but deciding which place is best suited for you might be confusing sometimes. So, I have curated a list of some of the best lakes in Vancouver along with beaches that you can visit for kayaking and other water sport activity.
Best lakes for kayaking in Vancouver
1. Rice lake
If you are hunting for a lakeside in Vancouver that is not only suited for kayaking but hiking and camping as well, then you must visit Rice Lake, one of the most calmest and beautiful lakes in Vancouver. The calm water of the lake makes it suited for kayaking for beginners, newbies, kids and teens.
The lake is located in the middle of Seymour Conservation Reserve where you’ll also come across the calmness of beautiful surroundings, ample of birds, and animals and a calm atmosphere giving you some jaw-dropping experience for visitors.
The lake is also ideal for family sitting, and walking trails with friends and family, as you’ll find ample of spots to relax, soak in the sun and engage in a variety of fun outdoor activities. If you are boarding a fishing kayak, you won’t go empty hands as the lake is home of numerous fishing species here.
This lake has also got magnificent birds such as Owls, Heron, Eagles, and much more, making it a great escape from the usually bustling city life.
2. Cabin lake
If you are seriously planning for canoeing in Vancouver, you can’t miss Cabin lake, which is one of the most beautiful lakes in Vancouver. The lake is located in the middle of the iconic Black Mountain and you can have a 360-degree view of this mountain while canoeing.
Although the lake is 100% free for kayaking, I would still suggest you to confirm with the locals first.
July to September is the best season to visit this lake which will offer you tons of opportunities to carry out outdoor activities like hiking, camping, snowboarding in winter, kayaking and paddle boarding as well. The lake is bit small but loaded with scenic views including the view of the Lions from the lake. Since the lake is calm, beginners can ride on kayaks too.
You can also kayak with your dog on the lake, with the small child, or with any other pet which you like. Just make sure you take care of the poop and don’t litter around.
This amazing lake is located just a few kilometres away from the fierce Black Mountains. You can either take a taxi from here to reach the lake in 30 mins of walking.
3. Buntzen Lake
Do you want to enjoy perfect recreational kayaking in Vancouver? Are you looking for a calm and flatwater lake for canoeing in Vancouver? If yes, Buntzen Lake has got your back covered.
Surrounded by the green vegetation sideways and exhibiting clouds on the upside, the Buntzen lake is a perfect gateway from the daily hustle and bustle of the city. I found the lake nothing less than heaven on earth. For those seeking fishing or duck-hunting adventures, this is a place to be at.
The lake is so alluring that it attracts millions of visitors during the summer month who are looking for ways to escape the heat and soak into the beauty of this lake. Yes, you can do paddle boarding, wakeboarding and many other water sports activities on the lake.
What’s more? This lake will also give you some of the most surreal and scenic views of the green forest. The visitors will also get to pass via the most amazing sites, suspension bridges, lush green forests, some subways and amazing sites.
4. Sasamat lake
Looking for a kayaking spot in Vancouver with warm and calm water? If yes, then Sasamat Lake is the place where you should be at. This lake is so pleasant and calm that you can relax your mind and body, and enjoy a fantastic day paddling. Just make sure you bring in a recreational or camping kayak to enjoy the lake fullest
Since the lake is situated in the Belcarra Regional Park, you can also enjoy hiking, camping, trails, walking trails, and cycle trails in the region and enjoy taking pictures in the awe of nature.
When done with kayaking, you can also explore the sandy White Pine Beach embarking on the shoreline of the lake, which makes it look even more beautiful and mesmerizing. It’s a perfect spot for spending time with your loved ones and family. You can also enjoy a romantic dinner date with your love, taking in the beauty and tranquillity.
5. Burnaby lake
The next on my list of best places for kayaking in Vancouver is Lake Burnaby, which attracts families and couples from all parts of the world either to enjoy kayaking or picnic. This lake remains open throughout the year except in the winter season.
During winter, you can also carry out snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports adventures. Overall, this lake is a perfect spot for those who are looking for a cosy, simple tour, and want to reconnect with mother nature by forgetting about the busy life of the city.
The temperature of the area remains warm and the water is flat and calm, allowing you to kayak or canoe with complete peace of mind.
The lake is located in Burnaby Lake Regional Park, which is an important part that provides a bird’s eye view for spotting wildlife animals, birds and a lot more. While kayaking, you can also view the ducks, turtles and other aquatic wildlife.
6. Cultus Lake
This lake is also known as the jewel of the Fraser Valley and also one of the most beautiful and stunning lakes of Vancouver. Not only for kayaking, the lake is also suited for camping and hiking adventures.
It is located in the heart of Gigantic park where travellers across the globe visit for camping along with friends and family. You can enjoy the wonders of nature, and breathtaking sites, explore wildlife and catch some beautiful species of birds through your lens.
If you have a knack for fishing, then I would recommend you to come along with stand up a fishing kayak or a fishing paddle board, as you’ll come across many different species of fish on the lakeside.
If you are coming along with your friends and family, then don’t forget to visit the famous pristine beach on the shore and enjoy exciting trails, fun-filled activities and the refreshing water of the lake, offering you complete rejuvenation and relaxation.
7. Lost Lake
If you want to experince great weather conditions along with a perfect day touring kayak, Lost Lake has got you covered. The lake is just a few minutes away from the Whistler Village and greatly suited for hiking, biking, nature escape and canoeing in Vancouver.
It’s a popular spot for skilled, unskilled and senior kayakers looking for an awesome trail of the lake which is a combination of wooden logs, bridges, and paths, surrounded by lush green forest, fragrant trees and more. One of the famous spot for kayaking and canoeing in Vancouver, the lost lake offers amazing adventure to those looking to recharge their body, unwind their mind and relax on their weekend.
Accessible after almost a 7-kilometer long hike, the ever-so-stunning Lost Lake can be covered in just a days trip which makes it immensely appealing!
8. Alice Lake
The last on this list of best lakes for kayaking, canoeing or boating in Vancouver is Alice lake. This lake is famous for camping during summer and rainy seasons. It is surrounded by first-clad mountains, green hills, grasslands and dense forest which makes it suited for the adventure seeker.
The lake is also home to four freshwater lake that offers travelers enough option for kayaking and try any other water sport activities there. All the lakes are absolutely free for kayaking in Vancouver and you don’t have to pay a penny.
The mesmerizing landscapes formed by the lakes and the hilly areas make this location look right out of a fairytale. Appealing to each and every kind of traveller, irrespective of their age, Alice Lake is known for the tranquillity and peacefulness that encircles the atmosphere of this destination.
Best beaches for kayaking & canoeing in Vancouver
1. Sunset Beach
If you want to enjoy the beautiful sunset of Vancouver city along with kayaking or canoeing, this Sunset Beach is a must-visit spot for you. It is one of the most beautiful and quietest beaches in Vancouver which hosts millions of tourists every year.
Surfing, paddle boarding, tandem kayaking, boating, wakeboarding, bodyboarding and everything else that is part of water sports adventure is possible on Sunset beach. If you are not much into kayaking, you can take a deep dive into local pools or ponds created on the beach side, or try your hands with beach volleyball with the locals.
Of course, there is ample option for kids and teens as well. They can enjoy their time on the playground created on the beach side, cycling, walking trails or creating sandmen on the beach.
Lifeguards are also spotted on the beach, so you can be assured of their safety. Plus, washrooms and restaurants are the plus point allowing you to enjoy a meal after a long day kayaking.
2. Ambleside Beach
Ambleside beach is located on the Northern Side of Vancouver and is famous for kayaking and boating in the region. If you don’t have your one kayak or paddle board, not worry. There are a plethora of kayaking and paddle boarding rentals available on the beach side where
On the beach, you’ll come across stunning views of Stanley park, the amazing skyline of Vancouver, and open clouds, making Ambleside Beach a perfect spot to spend a day at. There is also a small cafe on the beachside, making it easy for you to have a small meal, snack or breakfast early morning.
3. Kitsilano Beach
Kitsilano Beach, also known as “Kits,” is one of the best beaches in Vancouver, Canada and is often referred to by locals as their version of the famous Venice Beach. As one of the most glamorous beaches in Vancouver, Kitsilano Beach is home to the longest and only saltwater pool in Vancouver and offers breathtaking views of the city, mountains, and ocean. In addition, you’ll find a grassy area perfect for picnicking or taking part in some of the exciting outdoor activities Vancouver has to offer.
4. Wreck Beach
Wreck Beach is a beautiful, natural beach located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The beach is 7.8 kilometres long and is one of the prettiest beaches in West Vancouver. Wreck Beach is also famous for being the largest clothing-optional beach in Vancouver and attracts many tourists. Given its location, the beach is also the perfect spot to witness a stunning sunset.
Apart from kayaking, this beach will also offer you short walking trails, picturesque points and locations, whale-watching opportunities and of course, fishing and hunting adventures. The beach is located in the Tamara National Park in the North Coast Region. You can take a short walk from Port Stephens to reach this spot.
You can also have a view of the sunset from this beautiful beach. Also, it’s a community-dedicated beach, so it will be clean and neat for sure. Eating food on the sands is allowed as well and you can pick a cold beer, a bison burger a veggie wrap and a cockpit from enterprising restaurants located nearby.
The only drawback is that swimming for kids is not allowed.
5. Jericho Beach
If you are looking for a simple and sober canoeing place in Vancouver, Jerricho Beach is the one. This is the not-so-crowded and fancy beach that will allow you to do peaceful kayaking or canoeing with your partner. Of course, you can also carry out camping paddle-boarding adventures here.
The annual Vancouver music festival is also conducted on the beach but if you are not in the mood for adventure, you can simply a stroll or rejuvenate and try your hands with other beachside recreational activities which include volleyball, tennis and futsal. Swimming on the beach is allowed but only for seniors and adults.
Jericho Beach is on the north side of Jericho Park at the west end of Point Grey Rd between Wallace St and Discovery St. The east side of the beach caters to swimmers and the west side to sailboats and windsurfers.
6. Spanish Banks Beach
Located far away from the main city of Vancouver Spanish Banks Beach is one of the quietest beaches in the city and the best place for kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver with your loved ones. The beach will also offer you the opportunity of bass fishing, fly fishing and stand-up fishing, provided that you have permission and a relevant fishing license.
The name of the beach come when the Spanish and English met on the shores back in 1792 and that was a historical moment for this place. Since then, the beach is called Spanish Banks and it is the best place for swimming, kayaking in Vancouver, paddle boarding and a lot more.
7. English Bay Beach
If you are interested in long kayaking touring adventure and sporty rides, English Bay Beach should be on your list. This is one of the most beloved beaches by the locals of Vancouver as it hosts Vancouver’s Annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swimming. Swimming for people and individuals is also allowed on the beach.
English Bay Beach is also called the first beach of Vancouver which is located on the west side of the city right next to Stanley Park. This is a very busy beach offering you numerous opportunities for recreational activities like swimming, sitting on the beach and enjoying the view, enjoying and famous Celebration of Light Festival and much more.
Besides, there are many restaurants, bars and concession stands on the beach side. If you are not interested in kayaking or any other recreational activity, you might love to have a chilled beer and smoked BBQ in one of the restaurants.
8. Locarno Beach
If you are seriously looking for the best beaches for kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver, then Locarno beach should be also on your list. This is a small beach that can be explored with a small kayak or a mini pontoon boat as well in one single day.
The simplicity, beautiful locations, clean spots and calm water makes the beach ideal for kayaking and boating in Vancouver. Whether it is a beautiful beach or not, that’s a different story, however, the beach is worth paying a visit to.
The beach lies between Jericho and Spanish banks and is a quaint and quiet beach. It also offers the opportunity to swim, include in recreational activities and chance the sunset with your kayak.
The pets are allowed but you need to make sure they are on the leash.
9. Second Beach
Home to a seasonal outdoor heated pool called Second Beach Pool, the Second beach is a perfect spot for camping activities, cycling, walking, jogging, kayaking and canoeing in Vancouver. The beach also offers a playground and a picnic shelter.
Bring along your friends, partner or family members, this beach has got something for everyone to offer. It is quiet and located in the heart of the city. Public transportation like buses and taxis will directly drop you at the beach from the main Vancouver city.
There is also a golf course located on the beach. If you are interested you can try your hands on it.
10. Cates Park
Cates Park, which means “face the wind” in the ancestral language of the Musqueam people, is Vancouver’s largest seaside park. The park has everything from a playground to a tennis court, making it a perfect place to enjoy some time outdoors. You can go for a swim, play volleyball, or just relax on the beach. Cates Park is a one-of-a-kind place in Vancouver where you can’t go wrong.
Accessories you need for kayaking in Vancouver
1. Life Jacket
Kayak or boating life jacket will not only keep you safe while riding, but it is also mandatory while kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver. The majority of waterways, lakes and rivers have mandatory laws and rules to wear a life jacket while carrying out any watersport activity. Besides law, having a life jacket is a must as it is a life-saving gear.
By a life jacket that has been approved by the USA coastal guard association and certified by relevant safety authorities.
2. Water bottle
When kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver, especially in summer, it’s important to stay hydrated. Having a water bottle will help you to stay cool and calm during your ride. A good water bottle is one that comes with an insulated hydro mug or thermos that keeps your water warm and cool for a long time. Also, make sure that your water bottle is made with stainless material with Vaccum insulated to keep water hygienic for the long term.
3. First aid kit
One of the most important kayaking gear is a first aid kit. This kit should include all the safety tools, gears and medical aid you might need in case of injury or accident during your canoeing in Vancouver journey. For example, your kit must have band-aids, wrap, disinfectant, antibacterial spray, deo, lotion and some anti-biotics medicals. You can also custom-tailor your kayak first aid kit per your needs and requirements.
A kayaking helmet is important to gear if you are going for a river paddle-boarding adventure or whitewater kayaking in Vancouver. Also, for river rafting, it is best advised to wear a half-face helmet. A versatile helmet is a great tool to consider that will keep your head safe from any sort of harmful injury and damage.
Kayak anchor comes into the picture only if you are planning to canoe fishing in Vancouver. It also helps if you want to spot-lock the kayak into the water and relax for a while. A kayak anchor from the Best Marine brand can be the best option if you are looking for something on the lightweight and cheaper side.
This is my personal favorite gear that I take every time I go out kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver. A kayak or paddle boarding cooler is a multi-purpose gear that can be used to keep your beverages, drinks, food and other edible items safe and fresh for a long time. Plus, you can also leverage a cooler for keeping fish only if you are going for fishing adventures in Vancovuer.
7. Dry bag
A dry bag or a box will keep your other small kayaking gear and electronics gadgets safe and sound from the splash of water. For example, if you are carrying a kayaking speaker, you can leverage the kayak dry bag to keep your speaker or kayaking watch safe when they are not in use.
8. Wet suite
If you are kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver during winter conditions and where water stays below 70 degrees then you surely need a paddle board or a kayak wetsuit to keep your body warm and dry. Also, for long-distance kayaking and paddle boarding, a wetsuit is a must-have gear that will keep your body heated.
9. Fish finder
A fish finder is only needed when you are going for a fishing adventure and want to locate your ideal catch in the water. A fish finder is a great tool that will precisely allow you to locate your fish, and the depth of the water and also work as a GPS system, allowing you to easily navigate through tight and unknown spots while kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver.
10. Spray skirt
The last on this list of accessories required for canoeing in Vancouver is a spray skit. If you are kayaking in a sit-in kayak then your body will be close to the water and there is a chance that you might get wet while kayaking in choppy conditions. To keep you high and dry, you can opt for a spray skirt.
Best time for kayaking or canoeing In Vancouver?
If you are going in Vancouver for canoeing or kayaking, the best time to visit is from March to May and from September to November when the weather is mild and hotel room rates are also on the cheaper side. Summer is the most popular time to visit because of the warm weather, however, if you are planning your kayaking trip to Vancouver from another part of the world then, make sure to book a hotel room first and carry your own kayak as it would save you money.
If you are a winter sports lover, then the biting temperatures won’t deter your adventure for sure. The city of Vancouver has also got ample home base for skiers and snowboarders looking to explore some winter sports adventures in Vancouver.
How much does it cost for kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver?
The cost of kayaking in Vancouver depends on several factors. For example, if you are carrying your own kayak to Vancouver then the cost of kayaking or canoeing will be anywhere between $100 to $200. In this case, you just need to pay the fee.
On the other hand, if you are not having your own kayak, then you need to look for kayaking rentals in Vancouver. This might cost you bit more depending on the type of kayak you are renting. The average cost of kayaking rental in Vancouver is $50 per hour and it might go up to $500 per day depending on the kayak you opt for. Additionally, you also need to pay for park, lake or river fees for kayaking. So, this is for sure a costlier option.
Best kayak rentals in Vancouver
2. BC Sea Kayak
FAQs About Kayaking And Canoeing In Vancouver
The short answer to this question is No, you don’t need permits for kayaking or canoeing in Vancouver. If you own a kayak or paddle board for canoe, then you can take it for ride anywhere in Vancouver. Nevertheless, ensure to consult with the local authorises before kayaking on any river or lake in Vancouver.
Yes definitely! You can kayak anywhere in Vancouver without any reluctance. There are many lakes, rivers, and plenty of beachside in Vancouver where you can enjoy your kayak, paddle board, and canoe.
There are many freshwater lakes and river in Vancouver, where you can do kayak, paddle boarding, boating, canoes, and wakeboarding etc
There is no exact answer to this question. Typically, any type of kayak you can purchase or rent for kayaking in Vancouver. From fishing kayaks to recreational kayaks, from tandem kayaks to inflatable kayaks – any type of water boat is suited for kayaking in Vancouver.