Kayaking in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, British Columbia

If you’re looking for a refreshing outdoor adventure on a hot summer day near Vancouver, BC, head to Deep Cove

The picturesque community of Deep Cove, folded between granite rocks and evergreen trees along a sparkling blue fjord, is the perfect launching point for a water-based summer adventure. Although the popular Quarry Rock trail is closed to the public, the stunning area is still worth visiting on a warm afternoon.

On a sunny day in July, my friends Adam and April joined me in Deep Cove for a casual kayaking adventure. We rented PFDs, paddles, kayaks and a GPS from Deep Cove Kayak. An employee briefed us with safety instructions—specifically if we were to flip—and a few paddling tips. Although I have (minimal) kayaking experience, I’ve always been more comfortable in a canoe. I took the bow of a double kayak while April settled into the stern, learning to use the rudder pedals on the fly (er, float).

I stuffed my dry bag with a first-aid kit, sunscreen and a dry towel into the hatch, strapping my full water bottle onto the deck in front of me with the shock cords. Feeling prepared, we launched into the calm ocean.

kayaking smiles Alison Karlene Hodgins

Our destination was Strathcona Lookout Park, a two-kilometre paddle from the dock. We chose it to ensure we’d have enough time for a refreshing dip at the beach before returning with the wind at our backs.

We pushed off, paddling against the wind. Other kayakers, SUPers and a giant floatie drifted in the water like colourful paint strokes. We hugged the shoreline, passing extravagant summer homes with attached funiculars to access private docks.

By the time we’d paddled out of the cove, an angry red blister had appeared on my left hand. The skin ripped off quickly, and I stuck the wound into the salty water to relieve it. Later, I grabbed a bandage from my pack and covered the sore. Lesson learned: always bring a first-aid kit.

kayaking fun Alison Karlene Hodgins

As we paddled, several islands spread out in front of us. To our left, I could see Jug Island, which can be reached on an enjoyable hike through Belcarra Regional Park. To our right, three private islands filled with tall trees sat perched on the water. None of the islands are open for kayakers to dock. The first island, Hamber, featured an impressive building with a bridge connecting it to the mainland.

Boulder Island, in the middle, was once a traditional burial ground for the Tsleil-Waututh people. According to locals, the dead were wrapped in cedar bark and placed in the trees. When Christian missionaries arrived and found the burial ground, they denounced the burial methods and moved the bodies.

kayaking towards islands Alison Karlene Hodgins

Navigating around Grey Rocks Island, we glimpsed a pirate flag flying over a paved pathway. Continuing to Strathcona, we beached our kayaks carefully. It took us approximately 30 minutes to reach the small park. I was hot and sweaty from the sunshine and excursion of paddling, so I removed my life vest and swam into the mighty cold Pacific, despite shivering when the water hit my skin. April was already soaked from a rogue wave on our way over, so she relished in the water peacefully.

swimming in the ocean Alison Karlene Hodgins

We spent an enjoyable 20 minutes swimming in the gently lapping waters, baby crabs floating around us as we cooled off. Back in the kayaks, we launched into the Indian Arm and paddled back to Deep Cove. Along the way, we spotted a seal bobbing in front of us. They really do look like water dogs.

Returning our kayaks was easy, and the two hours passed quickly. My right hand now sported a matching blister, but I decided to think of my small wounds as battle scars rather than inconveniences.

When You Go:

view from the beach Alison Karlene Hodgins

Parking is extremely limited in Deep Cove. Arrive at least 45 minutes before your reservation. If possible, plan to visit mid-day and mid-week.

Make a reservation with Deep Cove Kayak in advance. You can leave small valuables at reception, but anything larger than a small backpack should be locked in your trunk or left at home.

If you’re interested in kayaking alone, you need to be able to demonstrate proper rescue techniques and have completed a capsize and recovery lesson to rent a single kayak with Deep Cove Kayak.

Always take care when paddling around other boaters and encountering marine life.

Don’t miss one of the best doughnuts in the world at Honey Doughnuts & Goodies in Deep Cove.

Honeys Alison Karlene Hodgins

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