When the wind whips into a frenzy on the Spit at the mouth of the Squamish River, that means one thing to locals: kiteboarding. Squamish, after all, is an Aboriginal word for “mother of wind.” Ready to catch some air? Take lessons through Squamish Kiteboarding School (instructors trained to International Kiteboarding Organization Standards) and you’ll soon be flying above the water with Shannon Falls cascading in the background.
Vancouverites tend to be restless types, and the combination of stand-up paddling (SUP) and yoga gives us that extra water-based challenge we crave. Vancouver Water Adventures offers morning and sunset sessions on the calm waters at Kits Beach, where you can practise your balance and breathing on the board.
Take a Hop-on-Hop off Self-guided Tour on False Creek
Pub crawl? Museum tour? Shopping in Yaletown’s boutiques or Granville Island’s Public Market? You can do it all with a False Creek Ferry day tour pass, which lets you buzz back and forth along the creek at nine different stops, taking in sites including Science World and the Museum of Vancouver.
If your to-do list includes skimming across the surface of the sea while harnessing the wind’s speed, it might be time for some beginner sailing lessons or maybe a refresher course to help you regain your sea legs. MacSailing at Jericho Sailing Centre offers the CANSail course for adults and youth, plus private lessons. Learn on a one- or two-person sailing dinghy and work your way up to a 24-foot keelboat.
Riding a BC Ferry affords stunning views of the Coastal Mountains, and if you’re lucky, you might spot an orca or eagle. But those behemoth boats can’t get close to places like Christie Island bird sanctuary or Pam Rocks, where a colony of 150 harbour seals routinely haul out and sun themselves on the rocks. The Sewell’s Marina sea safari heads to these locales, with the adventure starting in Horseshoe Bay, where you’ll don bright-red survival suits before boarding a 30-foot inflatable boat to “hunt” for wildlife in Howe Sound.
Hunt for Treasure Aboard a Pirate Ship in False Creek
Is it campy? Absolutely, and – arrr – that’s what we love about Pirate Adventures. Set sail from Granville Island aboard the Grey Ghost, with Captain Murky, Barnacle, Gypsy, and other salty characters. You’ll search for a bounty of buried treasure in the briny waters of False Creek and take part in on-board antics. The family-friendly adventure promises that no one will actually walk the plank, but kids and adults get the full pirate treatment, with face-painting and pirate attire (vests, headbands and sashes).
Kayaking at night might at first seem counterintuitive, but with the man in the moon guiding your way and Big Dipper overhead, trust us, the uncharted territory gets comfortable pretty quickly. Especially if you explore the inky waters of Indian Arm on a guided tour with Deep Cove Kayak, where you’ll get some nighttime paddling tips and info on the moon’s effect on the tides.
Warning: this tour isn’t for newbie kayakers; check the website for additional details. Tours run seasonally until October.
Stroll the Seawall, perch on a bridge, or head to the beach and there they are: stand-up paddlers gliding across the bay, sailors drifting by a backdrop of skyscrapers, and kayakers poking in and out of hidden coves. They’re all frolicking in Vancouver’s crystalline waters.
Your turn: Get off your landlubber butt and put your sea legs (and arms) to work and explore Vancouver (and beyond) from the water. Whether you’re a kiteboarder or yogi, here are seven ways to get your water fix from Kits Beach to the Squamish River.
Janet Gyenes is a writer, editor, beverage columnist and co-founder of 70 magazine, an online travel publication. She has co-authored two travel guidebooks on Vancouver and has put her insatiable curiosity to work in words and photos, covering topics such as tasting sherry in Spain, mule-riding in Molokai, and tracking textile trends in Turkey. She regularly writes for BCLiving about food, beverage, design and more.