Lotus Land Tours

Kayaking Vancouver’s Indian Arm with Lotus Land Tours

By: By Janice Mucalov

The Details

Lotus Land Tours

Price: About $155

Commission: 10 percent.

Indian Arm kayaking trips are offered from March to October.

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The water was as still as glass as we kayaked up the protected ocean inlet. Thick cedar and fir rainforest covered mountains that climbed upward on both sides. Occasionally, a harbor seal poked its head up, tracing our movements with its curious, large eyes. It was utterly peaceful — the only sounds we heard were the occasional squawk from a seabird flying above and the slapping of our paddles on the water’s surface. 

Lotus Land Tours offers a six-hour kayaking adventure through a scenic glacial fjord. // (C) 2010 Janice Mucalov

Lotus Land Tours offers a six-hour kayaking adventure through a scenic glacial fjord. //
(C) 2010 Janice Mucalov

We could have been deep in the wilderness far away from civilization. Yet we were only a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. We kayaked up Indian Arm with Lotus Land Tours on a guided six-hour adventure. Indian Arm is a steep-sided, 18-mile glacial fjord branching north from the ocean inlet separating Vancouver from its North Shore Mountains.
For centuries, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation lived in villages on both sides of Indian Arm. Today, they jointly manage the area with the provincial government as a conservation park. Known for its spectacular wilderness scenery and sheltered environment, Indian arm is a paradise for paddlers, boaters and scuba divers.

The day trip is perfect for clients visiting Vancouver who want to experience its great outdoors. And conveniently, a minivan will pick up clients from their downtown hotel and drive them through a mostly uninhabited forest, ending at a public access dock.

Before setting out, we were given a short kayaking lesson. Previous experience isn’t necessary to join these trips, and the tour operator’s stable, wooden two-seater kayaks are ideal for first-timers. A young couple in our group came from San Francisco and had never kayaked before but, after going around in a couple of circles, they quickly got the hang of it.

“This is a kayaker’s dream,” exclaimed our guide Caroline Bradley, as we slowed to look at big purple and orange sea stars clinging to the rocky shoreline.

We kept our eyes peeled for bald eagles flying overhead. Black bears, cougars, black-tailed deer, coyotes and red foxes all inhabit the area, but we didn’t spot any that day.
Some 80 bird species have also been identified. And in September, a large run of salmon make their way up Indian Arm to spawn. The salmon can often be seen jumping along the shoreline in autumn, as they try to evade the mouths of hungry seals.

With the waterfront mansions and cottages far behind us, we crossed over the inlet to the other side, where we squeezed through a tidal lagoon and approached Little Twin Island. At a small sand and gravel landing, our guide jumped out and pulled our kayaks onto the beach. She made it so easy for us that we didn’t even get our feet wet.

We had only been paddling for an hour or so, but everyone was eager for lunch. While we explored the little islet, our guide set up a portable propane barbecue and threw on salmon fillets and corn on the cob. The feast was soon served on china plates with a side of pasta salad.

For dessert, we rinsed out the Japanese porcelain cups that had contained our lemonade. These were filled with fresh strawberries and topped with whipped cream. We
couldn’t help but think that the other group of kayakers on the island eating their cheese sandwiches would have been envious.

There was time for a quick swim (although the water was chilly) before packing up and kayaking back to the dock. But the time has a way of passing very quickly, and it seemed our day had barely begun before it was over. In total, we kayaked about two hours, and my only regret is that I wished we could have spent more time on the water.