From kayaking in False Creek to windsurfing in English Bay, white-water rafting in North Vancouver rivers, or excursions farther afield, Vancouver is full of opportunities for water sport enthusiasts. There are also several spots to go stand-up paddleboarding, including right downtown in False Creek, English Bay, and Kitsilano Beach. Ecomarine Paddlesport Centre and Deep Cove Kayak rent SUP equipment as well as kayaks.
Boating and Sailing
With an almost limitless number and variety of waterways—from Indian Arm near Vancouver, up Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast, across the Strait of Georgia 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 (604/664–9010 www.weather.gc.ca).
Blue Pacific Yacht Charters. This company rents speedboats and sailboats for cruising around Vancouver Island and Seattle, including the San Juan Islands, Southern Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. Sailboats and power boats can be rented for a day or for longer excurions. 1519 Foreshore Walk, Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6H 3X3. 604/682–2161; 800/237–2392; www.bluepacificcharters.com.
Cooper Boating. Sailboats and cabin cruisers, either with or without skippers, can be rented at Cooper Boating. There is a two- to five-day minimum. 1815 Mast Tower Rd., Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6H 3X7. 604/687–4110; 888/999–6419; www.cooperboating.com.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Kayaking—seagoing and river kayaking—has become something of a lifestyle in Vancouver. Many sea kayakers start out (or remain) in Downtown's calm False Creek, while others venture into the open ocean and or head along the Pacific Coast. You can also white-water kayak or canoe down the Capilano River and several other North Vancouver rivers. Paddling in a traditional, seagoing First Nations–style canoe is an interesting way to experience the maritime landscape.
Deep Cove Kayak. Ocean-kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, guided excursions, and lessons for everyone in the family are available between April and October at this company's waterfront base in North Vancouver. Winter paddling tours are also available. 2156 Banbury Rd., North Vancouver, British Columbia, V7G 1L2. 604/929–2268; www.deepcovekayak.com.
Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres. 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, British Columbia, V6H 3S4. 604/689–7575; 888/425–2925; www.ecomarine.com.
Takaya Tours. A trip with Takaya Tours is a unique experience: you can paddle an 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. They also have kayak trips along the Burrard Inlet and up Indian Arm. Reservations are essential and trips run on a six-person minimum. North Vancouver, British Columbia, 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. North Vancouver, British Columbia. 800/565–8735; www.canadianoutbackrafting.com.
The winds usually aren't heavy on English Bay, making it a perfect place for learning to windsurf. If you're looking for more challenging conditions, head north to Squamish.
Windsure Windsurfing School. Sailboard and wet-suit rentals as well as lessons are available between May and September at Jericho Beach, in Point Grey. Skim boarding (a low-tech activity using a wooden board to skim along wet sand) and stand-up paddling lessons are also offered. 1300 Discovery St., Point Grey, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6R 4L9. 604/224–0615; www.windsure.com.