Canada has an abundance of different waters to choose from, including vast East coastlines from Quebec, PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the West coast of British Columbia. Not to mention Canada has over 2 million lakes of your choosing to pick from. With all of these choices it can be hard to decide exactly where to go and what to see, so I've made it easy for you by naming my personal favorite top 10.
The experienced paddler can skip this paragraph so let me just get the attention of a newbie. Why kayak? Surely there are other things to do in Canada, but you will not experience the same connection with nature by hiking or driving. This is because being on the water has many meditative as well as mental and physical benefits like stress reduction, cardio and improved strength after repetition (Read more about health benefits of kayak exercise at this link) .
1. Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Formerly known as the Queen Charlottle Islands, Haida Gwaii is not only the best destination to kayak in Canada but voted as one of the top destinations in the world by many advanced paddlers! What draws so many paddlers to Haida Gwaii is the fact that it is a giant island that feels virtually untouched by man. It is not uncommon to see creatures such as killer whales, sea lions, seals, black bears and many different types of sea birds while paddling here.
Perhaps the best part of Haida Gwaii is that there is something for everyone! Whether you are a experienced paddling enthusiast or have never been in a kayak before, Haida Gwaii has tours that fit both experience levels and everything in between. Experienced Sea Kayakers can go on multi day camping expeditions while beginners can go on a day tour on Haida Gwaii’s beautiful sheltered bays located on their East Coast.
2. Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
If you are looking for an all natural eastern "cottage feel", Algonquin Provincial Park is just what you need! Regarded as one of the best provincial parks in Canada, Algonquin can easily fit your paddling needs. You can choose between a canoe or a kayak as your vessel and be part of a touring group or go explore on your own if you are an advanced paddler. Some of the best water destinations in Algonquin include Canoe Lake, Barron Canyon Ragged Falls and Cedar Lake. All offer different sites with a new perspective!
3. Deep Cove, British Columbia
Located less than an hour from the main city of Vancouver, Deep Cove provides a spectacular mountain background. Deep Cove is a small quaint town that offers a calm paddle in and around the harbour along with the chance to see some common wildlife such as seals, sea lions, otters and maybe even Orca’s if it is your lucky day! Visitors to the area can go on guided tours or simply go at their own pace renting a Kayak or Paddle Board.
4. The Ottawa River, Ontario
Ever seen one of those awesome videos of people whitewater kayaking doing flips and tricks and all those kinds of things? Well now you can learn! The Ottawa River provides white water kayaking programs out there for those who want to release their inner adrenaline junkie as well as become a more confident paddler. For those who want something a bit calmer there are also a plethora of places you can take a recreational kayak out and enjoy a relaxing evening of paddling along the calmer parts of the river.
5. The East Coast of Newfoundland
Have you ever watched an episode of Planet Earth and seen the pristine northern coasts populated by whales, sea birds and icebergs, and really wished you could be there in person? You're in luck! There are a plethora of sea kayak Tours along the East Coast of Newfoundland such as Stan Cook Sea Kayaking Adventures, Ocean Quest Adventures and The Outfitters- Sea Kayaking tours. Depending on what time of year you go the possibility of icebergs and seeing different types of whales such as Minke, Finback and Humpback Whales is a very real opportunity.
6. False Creek- Vancouver, British Columbia
If you are looking for a more suburban landscape that feeds into some wilderness look no further than False Creek Vancouver. While it is extremely rare to see things such as whales you do get to experience that harbourfront lifestyle. Once you want to take a break you can simply park your kayak and grab some delicious food in and around Granville Island. False Creek and areas such as Kitsilano offer neatly kept sandy beaches, great food and craft beer markets as well as a nice sunset paddle just before dusk. There are various rental places all along False Creek where you can make your suburban paddling adventure become reality.
7. Athabasca River, Alberta
If you are looking to get completely lost in almost untouched mountainous wilderness Athabasca River is just what you need. Located in western Alberta, Athabasca is a river that is carved within the Rocky Mountains for almost 200 miles. There are also various small historic sites that you can visit from the good old gold mining days, as well as some great world class fishing.
8. Vargas Island- Tofino , British Columbia
Vargas Island is situated 3 Km off of Tofino and features some unique attractions such as coastal wolves , whale sightings and friendly locals who call it home. This is a great area to go and do multi day camping trips if you are a more experienced sea kayak paddler. Be wary though, the wolves of Vargas Island have quickly learned how to open kayak hatches!
9. Churchill River, Manitoba
The Churchill River Basin is one of the largest in Canada, stretching from Alberta all the way to northern Manitoba! It’s highlight however, is right at the mouth of Hudson's Bay where you can go kayaking or paddle boarding with Beluga Whales! These Whales are seasonal visitors to the Hudsons Bay and provide you with a unique perspective of sitting in the water with these playful gentle giants. Beluga’s are not the only highlights however, as you can see the Northern Lights and even have the unique opportunity to view Polar Bears! Churchill Manitoba is affectionately known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World.
10. Bonaventure River, Quebec
This river stretches over 80 miles long and features among the clearest waters in North America. If you peek from the side of your kayak or canoe you can spot salmon in the clear water spawning up the river. The Bonaventure features both class I and II rivers and even has fun river rafting tours if you are inexperienced in river paddling.
These are just a smidgen of great paddling spots in Canada! I’m sure there are plenty more to list off (I’m looking at you guys in the comment section!) The best way to see Canada is by paddling on the water. You get to see how its wildlife as well as residents interact with each other, and see all the picturesque landscapes you can handle (without looking on Instagram). Just don’t be surprised if you meet a friendly Canadian or two.