Need a break from the big city? View 42-hour itineraries from 13 cities.More
With an almost limitless number and variety of waterways—from Indian Arm near Vancouver, up Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast, across Georgia Strait to the Gulf Islands, and on to Vancouver Island, southwestern British Columbia is a boater's paradise. And much of this territory has easy access to marine and public services. One caution: this ocean territory is vast and complex; maritime maps are required. Always consult the Environment Canada marine forecasts (www.weatheroffice.gc.ca).
Blue Pacific Yacht Charters. This company rents speedboats and sailboats for cruising between Vancouver Island and Seattle, including the San Juan Islands, Southern Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. 1519 Foreshore Walk, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3X3. 604/682–2161 or 800/237–2392. www.bluepacificcharters.ca.
Cooper Boating. Charters sailboats and cabin cruisers, with or without skippers, are available at Cooper Boating. 1815 Mast Tower Rd., Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3X7. 604/687–4110 or 888/999–6419. www.cooperboating.com.
Kayaking—seagoing and river kayaking—has become something of a lifestyle in Vancouver. While many sea kayakers start out (or remain) in False Creek, others venture into the open ocean and up and down the Pacific Coast. You can white-water kayak or canoe down the Capilano River and several other North Vancouver rivers. And paddling in a traditional, seagoing aboriginal-built canoe is an increasingly popular way to experience the maritime landscape.
Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Centre. Ocean-kayak rentals, guided excursions, and lessons for everyone in the family are available between June and September at this company's base in North Vancouver. Winter paddling tours are also available. 2156 Banbury Rd., North Vancouver, BC, V7G 1L2. 604/929–2268. www.deepcovekayak.com.
Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre. Lessons and rentals are offered year-round from this well-regarded company's main branch on Granville Island. There are also locations at Jericho Beach and English Bay. 1668 Duranleau St., Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3S4. 604/689–7575 or 888/425–2925. www.ecomarine.com.
Takaya Tours. A trip with Takaya Tours is a unique experience: you can paddle a 45-foot oceangoing canoe while First Nations guides relay local legends, sing traditional songs, and point out the sites of ancient villages. The two-hour tours leave from Cates Park in North Vancouver or Belcarra Park in Port Moody. There are also trips along the Burrard Inlet and up Indian Arm on motorized kayaks. Reservations are essential. 700 Apex Ave., Vancouver, BC, V7H 2R5. 604/904–7410. www.takayatours.com.
Snowmelt from the coastal mountains, and broad rivers that run through the Pemberton Valley, north of Squamish, provide some of the best white-water rafting in British Columbia.
Canadian Outback Adventure Company. White-water rafting and scenic, family-oriented floats are offered on day trips from Vancouver. Transportation to and from Vancouver is available for an extra charge. 604/921–7250 or 800/565–8735. www.canadianoutback.com.
The winds aren't heavy on English Bay, making it a perfect place for learning to windsurf. If you're looking for more challenging high-wind conditions, you have to travel north to Squamish.
Windsure Windsurfing School. Sailboard rentals and lessons are available between May and September at Jericho Beach. Skim boarding and stand-up paddling lessons are also offered. 1300 Discovery St., Point Grey, Vancouver, BC, V6R 4L9. 604/224–0615. www.windsure.com.