Kayaking is a boating activity - that uses a kayak (surprise!) – and continues to grow in popularity and attract new participants. And it’s easy to see why. It is a sport that is fun, affordable, can be done solo and in groups and is an awesome way to explore new areas. Once you start kayaking, you usually keep on kayaking.
A kayak is a human powered watercraft that is propelled through the water using a double-ended paddle. It is a forward-facing, low-to-the water vessel, similar to a canoe. There are a few basic strokes that the paddler must master to move the boat through the water and these can easily be learned with practice. Kayakers are subject to the same Transport Canada regulations as canoers and stand up paddle boarders. Review the Safe Boating Guide for details.
Like all boating activities, what you wear does depend on the time of the year. Kayakers in extremely cold climates might wear a wet suit (or dry suit), gloves, booties and head cover. Most recreational kayakers however are good with up to three layers, specifically selected to keep them warm and dry. Choose a light wicking fabric next to your skin, then an insulating layer of sweater or fleece and if needed, a waterproof outer layer. Never wear cotton as it becomes heavy when wet, soaks and holds water next to your skin and has no insulating value.
A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are recommended. Remember that a lifejacket or PFD is required. A lifejacket is your best defence against the cold water and will provide more flotation than most PFDs. Refer to Transport Canada page Getting Started with Safe Boating.
See our directory of local businesses that provide lessons or book a guided kayak tour now.
You’re going to need a kayak – either flat water or white-water. Within the category of flat water, the selections are sit-on-top, recreational, inflatable, touring and pedaling.
Most of the ones available to rent here in Victoria will be the recreational style. You’ll also need a double-ended paddle that has been sized for you.
Generally speaking, if you are between 5’ and 5’10” your paddle should be 220-230 cm. Paddlers who are taller then 5’10” should choose a paddle that is 230-240 cm.
The company where you rent or purchase from will be help to help you select an appropriate paddle.
Ideal weather for kayakers is when the air temperature is warm enough to be on the water but not too warm that you overheat. Other factors are the water temperature, tides and currents, wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, lightning and fog.
Victoria experiences very little in the way of lightning and thunder but it is important to get off the water as quickly as possible if you see lightning.
As for our water temperature, the average daily temperature of the seas around Victoria BC range from 7.3°C (45.1°F) to 11.5°C (52.7°F).
Before going out on the water, be sure to check the conditions and forecast at Environment Canada. Local water sports enthusiasts head to BigWaveDave for weather information, wind reports, wind predictions and area webcams.
With our temperate climate, avid Vancouver Island kayakers take to the waters all year long but the best time is April through October, weather permitting.
*Marine life will vary depending on whether you paddle on a lake or the ocean
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