Kayaking in Vancouver

Kayaking in Vancouver is a great way to experience the city’s outdoor spirit says Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Shapiro By: Kenneth Shapiro
Editor Ken Shapiro with his son after their tour with Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre in Vancouver // © 2010 Kenneth Shapiro
Editor Ken Shapiro with his son after their tour with Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre in Vancouver // © 2010 Kenneth Shapiro

The Details

Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre

The Guided Paddle From Granville Island excursion is $59 per person. Check with the store for discounts for children.

This summer, from May 1 – Sept. 15, tours were operated daily from 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., with an additional tour offered on weekends from 2 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

For all other dates, tours can be arranged on request for a minimum of two people. Bookings must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

When I began planning a two-day post-cruise stay in Vancouver for my 9-year-old son and me, I looked for something adventurous and physical, yet kid friendly. My thinking was that after a week onboard our Holland America Line cruise ship to Alaska, it would be best to do something that was active and that would let us experience nature on a smaller scale. Kayaking in Vancouver fit the bill perfectly. After checking with a few of my local sources, I turned to Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre to plan the trip.

Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre offers a range of kayaking tours — including guiding groups on multi-day wilderness trips. Having never been in a kayak before, my son and I decided to try something just a bit less challenging and chose an excursion on False Creek, right in the heart of the city.

Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre has several locations around Vancouver, but for our 2½-hour tour, we began at the store on Granville Island. Once there — wearing shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, sunglasses, hats and a light windbreaker — we met Sarah, our guide for the day. Sarah was incredibly nice and experienced (she had just returned from a month-long sea kayaking trip around Vancouver Island) and put us at ease immediately.

After a very brief lesson and some pointers, we were ready to put in from a nearby dock. Before we even got into the kayak for the first time, however, my son and I were greeted by a curious sea lion poking his head out of the water just a couple feet away from us. Right then, we knew this was going to be an experience to remember.

We spent the next couple hours leisurely paddling our way along False Creek, taking in the shoreline sights and floating homes, checking out the luxury yachts, dodging water taxis and, of course, looking for wildlife. (Besides the friendly sea lions and variety of birds, occasionally a stray humpback whale wanders into the creek, as chronicled on some YouTube videos.)

Overall, the kayaking was not especially strenuous, although on the way back to Granville Island, I did get somewhat winded fighting a bit of wind and current. Also, because of my son’s age, he and I were in a two-person kayak (with me doing all of the work, by the way), which Sarah explained is sort of like driving an RV instead of a Prius. Still, my son and I had a great time chatting and paddling and enjoying the sunshine on the water.

Once we got back to the dock, we were both starving. Luckily, the Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre store is located just a hundred yards from the retail food stalls in the Granville Island Public Market. Before we knew it, my son and I were sitting in the sun, eating fresh-baked croissants with apples and cheese and watching a street performer sing nearby. We were tired from our morning on the water, but perfectly content with our little taste of Vancouver living.