Moving to Victoria last summer was a huge change. I was a bit concerned about the idea of being “stuck” on an island, after spending so many years in the booming city of Vancouver, where you can be anywhere in a pretty short drive. I’ve been here for a year now, and I can only say that I keep getting surprised by the places I discover in the area. And everything is so accessible…
Last year I finally also bought my own SUP, after shopping for a few years and renting here and then with different clubs (I was a member of the Locarno Club and UBC Sailing Club at Jericho Beach for a few years). As I live in a small space, I went for an inflatable which would make transportation and storage much easier. I know there are still plenty of places around Vancouver Island where I didn’t have a chance to paddle just yet, but this is a shortlist of my favourite spots so far, all accessible for a day trip or even shorter from the city.
When we want to go for a short paddle or when our time is limited, we simply head down to one of the local beaches in Victoria. Gyro Park has been nice, but to watch the seals and go for some quick island hopping, I usually head to Willows Beach. There is plenty of street parking nearby if the parking lot is full, and you can follow along the beach to Oak Bay Marina, as well as paddling out to some smaller islands.
We also loved paddling and exploring around Tod Inlet from Brentwood Bay. We were out on the water a bit longer (maybe 2-3hrs in total, taking our sweet time looking at the starfishes and sea otters) than when we go down to a local Victoria beach, but it is definitely worth the trip. A bit harder for parking though, so if you do have any tips on where to park and head in the water in the area, please do tell me!
If you are looking for a day trip, I have been loving Cowichan Lake. It’s a good 1h30 drive (at least) to get there, depending on where you will park. You can easily access the water from Gordon Bay Park, but we also launched from beaches near Youbou, on the other shore of the lake (almost in front of Gordon Bay). The water is crystal clear and the water is usually calm in the morning (from what we’ve seen so far). In the afternoon the wind picks up on the lake and there can be some pretty good waves (for a lake, but on a SUP it makes it quite a workout!).
I haven’t done much touring (or SUP-camping) yet, however, we managed to organize ourselves a nice little overnight trip to Sidney Spit in the Gulf Island, just off the coast of Sidney, BC. Check out my next post to learn more details about that trip!