Province/Territory: British Columbia

Explore a remote corner of Vancouver Island by kayak

  • 1500 sea otters
  • 110 hectares of old growth rainforest forest on rugged Spring Island
  • 40 years of operation in marine education

Dipping your paddle into the gentle swell, you glide through a jungle of enormous floating sea kelp toward an armada of bobbing, furry heads. Suddenly, its formation is broken by a playful splash of a sea otter diving beneath the glassy waters. You are kayaking off the outermost western edge of Vancouver Island along a wild, wave sculpted coastline of ancient forests and windswept beaches.
Out here, sea caves and vertical rock stacks shape nearby shores. Enormous thousand year old cedars and Sitka spruce stand covered with ferns, moss and lichen. Hidden inlets and freshwater streams beckon. And a black bear lumbers along a deserted beach searching for crabs.
Home-base is a camp of comfortable beds, spacious tents and gourmet temptations on Spring Island, 150 kilometres northwest of Tofino, surrounded by the Kyuquot Sound. This is the traditional territory of the Kyuquot and Checleset First Nations, who share an Aboriginal salmon feast with you around the fire while the sea otters play offshore.

Why you should visit

• Circumnavigate the rocky outline of remote Spring Island in search of playful sea otters, eagles, puffins, seals, snorting sea lions, and maybe even a whale or two.
• Savour a morning cappuccino at your luxurious base camp before launching into a protected bay.
• Learn to identify sea anemones, periwinkle, sea stars, gooseneck barnacles and other marine life.
• Land your expedition kayak on a black sand beach for a delicious lunch of guacamole, black bean and corn salad.
• Watch massive bull kelp twist on ocean currents and iridescent seaweed shimmer on cobalt waters.
• Learn about the unique biology of the sea otter in this protected sea mammal sanctuary.
• View black bears from kayaks while they forage along the shoreline.
• Hike through enchanting arboreal worlds and learn their botanical secrets from local guides.
• Eat a traditional salmon dinner - prepared around the fire - and visit with local First Nations elder family.
• Enjoy unfamiliar camping comforts, including beds, prepared meals, a shower, and space to roam without crashing waves, bears and cougars.

Weather

• This part of Vancouver Island is a temperate rainforest, receiving significant rainfall.
• Temperatures are moderated by the sea, rarely getting very hot or very cold year-round.
• Summers are more wet – Kyuquot receives the same annual precipitation as Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: 3.3 m of wetness.
• Typically, each trip will have one day or night with some precipitation, mixed with overcast or foggy conditions and days of very windy sunny and dry periods with large swell and wave conditions that reduce the scope of our paddling options.
• Discover local weather information.  Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.

Visitor information

• West Coast Expedition runs trips for paddlers (and non-paddlers) of all abilities from a fully catered base camp on Spring Island.
• The fleet of single and double kayaks includes smaller double kayaks that work well for a parent with child (6+ years old).
• You have approximately 1.1 km2 (110 hectares) or 272 acres to explore just south of British Columbia's largest marine Ecological Reserve.

When to go

• Basecamp and expedition kayak trips are offered from late June until early September.

Need to know

• The camp can accommodate a full range of dietary restrictions and allergies, including gluten and lactose sensitivities and vegetarian or vegan preferences.
• Bring outdoor clothing appropriate for west coast conditions (described in the packing list) and any desired alcoholic beverages.
• Base camp trips usually involve day trips with 1-2 hours of kayaking before and after lunch.
• Base camp has walk-in waterfront tents with beds, pillows, fitted sheet, and fleece blanket (just bring your sleeping bag).
• The sheltered bay offers easy access cobblestone and sand beaches for launching kayaks and practicing new kayaking skills.
• Spring Island is separated from the black bears and cougars on Vancouver Island.
• Kayak in close proximity to one of the largest rafts of sea otters on the coast of BC, often with over 100 male otters... and very close to the female sea otters and their pups.

Getting Here

• Package includes ground transport from Comox Valley (Courtenay or Comox) or Campbell River, and two-way water taxi from Fair Harbour.
• From either the Campbell River or Comox Valley airports (serviced from Vancouver by Air Canada, WestJet and Pacific Coastal), you can rent a car or, if you have a group, book a shuttle to Fair Harbour where a water taxi will pick you up.
Air Nootka offers a spectacular, 45-minute scenic coastal flight from Gold River (89 kilometres west of Campbell River on Vancouver Island).