Kayaking in Victoria BC

Kayaking in Victoria BC is an incredibly popular activity for locals and tourists alike and continues to grow and attract new participants into the exhilarating world of paddling. And it’s easy to see why. 

From seasoned locals to curious tourists, the sport welcomes participants of all skill levels. Its popularity isn't confined to a specific demographic, making it an inclusive and accessible activity for everyone.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

One of the key draws to kayaking in Victoria BC is its affordability. Unlike some extreme sports, kayaking doesn't require a hefty investment in equipment or training. Rental services and guided tours abound, offering a cost-effective means for enthusiasts to dip their paddles into the world of marine exploration without breaking the bank.

Whether seeking solitude or craving the camaraderie of a group adventure, kayaking offers a versatile experience. The serene waters around Victoria provide an ideal setting for those desiring a peaceful solo paddle, while the sport's social aspect shines during group outings. It's this flexibility that makes kayaking a preferred choice for individuals and families alike.

Beyond the thrill of the sport, kayaking in Victoria unveils the region's breathtaking beauty in a unique and intimate way. Paddlers navigate pristine waters, exploring hidden coves, rugged coastlines and scenic shorelines. It's an awe-inspiring journey that offers a fresh perspective on the city's natural wonders.

What sets kayaking apart is its timeless appeal. Once you have discovered the world of paddling, it's easy to become hooked for life. Kayaking becomes not just a hobby but a lifelong adventure, providing a constant source of joy and exploration.

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. 

Best Spots for Kayaking in Victoria BC

  • Gorge Waterway
  • Thetis Lake
  • Elk Lake
  • Inner Harbour
  • Gonzales Beach
  • Willows Beach
  • Cadboro Bay
  • Esquimalt Lagoon
  • Tod Inlet
  • Brentwood Bay

What to Wear While Kayaking

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. Paddling jackets such as this one are a good choice. 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 such as this waterproof bucket hat and sunglasses are recommended (I love my Serengeti's that protect against glare). Remember that a lifejacket or PFD is required and one made specifically for paddling like this one is ideal for ease of movement. 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

Instruction and Guided Tours

See our directory of local businesses below or book a tour with a local guide such as this one in the Inner Harbour or for the more adventurous, book a 3-day kayak tour of Broken Islands on the west coast of the Island. 

Fairway Gorge Paddling Club

  • 115 – 2940 Jutland Road, Victoria
  • 778-432-3472
  • Rentals: Yes – SUPs and Kayaks
  • Lessons: Yes
  • Guided Tours: No
  • Sales: Yes – used kayaks

Kelp Reef Adventures

  • Fishermanʼs Wharf, Dock A, 1 Dallas Road, Victoria
  • 250-386-7333
  • Rentals: No
  • Lessons: No
  • Guided Tours: Yes
  • Sales: No

Oak Bay Marina (in partnership with Ocean River Sports)

  • 1327 Beach Drive, Victoria
  • 250-598-3369
  • Rentals: Yes
  • Lessons: No
  • Guided Tours: Yes
  • Sales: No

Ocean River Sports

  • 1630 Store St, Victoria, BC V8W 1V3
  • 250-381-4233
  • Rentals: Yes
  • Lessons: Yes
  • Guided Tours: Yes
  • Sales: Yes

Pacifica Paddle Sports

  • 789 Saunders Lane, Brentwood Bay
  • 250-665-7411 OR
  • Canoe Cove Marina, Swartz Bay
  • 250-665-4548
  • Rentals: Yes – kayak (single and tandem), canoe and stand up paddle board
  • Lessons: Yes, kayak, canoe and stand up paddle board
  • Guided Tours: Yes
  • Sales: Yes

Victoria Kayak

  • 1006 Wharf Street (Floating), Victoria V8W 1T4
  • Rentals: Yes
  • Lessons: No
  • Guided Tours: Yes
  • Sales: used kayaks and gear

Victoria Waterfront Tours

  • 475 Head St, Victoria, BC V9A 5S1
  • 250-858-9090
  • Rentals: Yes
  • Lessons: Yes
  • Guided Tours: Yes
  • Sales: No

West Coast Outdoor Adventure Rentals

  • 6971 W Coast Road, Sooke, BC V9Z 0R7
  • 250-664-7794
  • kayaks, paddleboards and bikes
  • rentals and tours

Equipment

You’re going to need a kayak (surprise!) – 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 for kayaking in Victoria BC 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. 

Weather

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.  

Using a guide will help maximize your time on the water. They can provide a brief history of what you see on the shoreline and identify the marine life you encounter. Book a guided tour here

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.

Best Time of the Year for Kayaking in Victoria BC

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. 

What You Might See Kayaking the Regions Waterways

NOTE: Marine life will vary depending on whether you paddle on a lake or the ocean.

  • Harbour seals
  • Blue herons
  • Moon jellies
  • Oyster catchers
  • Sea lions
  • Whales
  • River otters
  • Bald eagles

Check out some of the best kayaking tours here.

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