I had arrived on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the day before and only had until 4 pm before I had to be on the ferry back to the main land. With less that 48 hrs on such a big island I really didn’t have a lot of time and was forced to decide what I really wanted to see and do in this beautiful, wild place.
Whale watching was at the top of my list and I had had such a wonderful time the day before, searching for killer whales as then hunted amount the Gulf Islands. Today I would continue my exploration of the stunning marine environment as I was to sea kayak outside a small town called Nanoose Bay, just north of Nanaimo.
I woke that day to beautiful clear blue skies and enjoyed the short scenic drive to the beach I had been instructed to meet my guide at. Sea kayaking off the coast of Vancouver Island had made it to the top of my long list of experiences to have during my short stay on the island. After researching places to go and various day trips, I had settled on the company Adventuress and their half day Mistaken Island tour.
Arriving at Wall Beach early, I wandered down onto the beach while the tide was out, exposing all sorts of marine critters and flora that would have otherwise been under water.
The water was a spectacular blue with a hint of green and ever so clear. The wind was strong and carried that sweet salty air to my nostrils. I inhaled deeply as memories of ocean adventures past filled my mind. The wind was whipping through my hair and I noticed large white cap waves flowing into the bay, hoping that conditions would still allow for my kayaking adventure.
Soon enough my guide Ryan arrived, complete with a trailer full of single and double sea kayaks. The rest of my small group pulled up in their car as well and I introduced myself to the fit looking mother – daughter duo who would be my companions on this expedition. I felt lucky to have such a small group as this always allows for last minute changes in the itinerary and provides a more intimate experience.
Ryan began unloading the singles kayaks as the rest of us began packing up out lunches and cameras into dry bags that would accompany us in our boats. With all the kayaks unloaded, Ryan gazed out at the ocean and its large waves with a look of worry. He said right now was too dangerous for us to start kayaking, as even these sturdy boats would find it difficult to stay up right. Ryan offered us two possibilities: 1) we could wait for about half and hour and see if the wind died down or 2) we could use two double kayaks instead of the singles, as they are extremely stable. Excited to get out on the water, myself and the other two ladies decided to take the doubles instead. So with a bit of switching around, we soon had all 4 single boats back on the trailer and together we carried the two double kayaks down to the beach.
Ryan gave a short speech and demonstration on how best to enter and exit the kayaks as well as how to use the rudder. Having kayaked many times in the past in both white water and sea kayaks, I felt comfortable with the whole set up. Besides, Ryan would be in the double kayak with me and working the rudder. He was in charge of steering us through the waves while I would provide a lot of the power up front.
Once everyone was settled into the cockpits of their kayaks we set off for Mistaken Island. The waves were big enough and we were paddling into a head wind but with two sets of arms in each boat, we all powered forwards. Taking breaks as needed and making sure both boats stayed close together, we soon reached the beautiful little rocky island.
Hiding behind the south side of the island, we had a reprieve from the wind and started searching the shallow waters for sea life. Purple star fish could be seen clinging to the rocks under water and Ryan was able to gently lift one out to the water for us to inspect.
As we made our way around to the north side we saw sea birds in the air and a group of seals lounging on their very own small rocky island.
Due to the high winds we weren’t able to paddle all the way around Mistaken Island so we turned back and made our way to a beautiful pebble beach on the mainland, across the bay from our starting point. This sheltered bay made for the perfect lunch spot and we were ready to stretch our legs after sitting for in the kayaks.
After refueling we all climbed back into our cockpits and took our time paddling back across the bay, enjoying the beautiful weather and stunning scenery. All in all the tour lasted a few hours and I had plenty of time to make it back to Nanaimo in time to catch my ferry back to Vancouver.
Sea kayaking on Vancouver Island was definitely a good choice of activity. I love being outdoors and getting a bit of exercise while taking in the sites, sounds and smells was the perfect way to end my short stay on the island.