Kayaking the Broken Group Islands

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In Pacific Rim National Park, there is a kayaker’s paradise called the Broken Group Islands. It consists of over 100 scattered islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island and has been on my bucket list for some time now.

Two men study a Majestic Ocean Kayaking map.

I travel from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island on BC Ferries and then take a 3-hour scenic drive from Nanaimo to the charming town of Ucluelet. There I visit Majestic Ocean Kayaking who runs single and multi-day trips to the Broken Group Islands. I sign up for a day-trip adventure and early the next morning, our tour group starts the day with an exciting 40-minute ride on a cruiser boat that will bring us to the perfect location for embarking on our paddle adventure into the Broken Group Islands.

A man in sunglasses travels on a boat with a green kayak attached to the side.

Along the way we spot a sea lion colony, eagles, and even a whale that gives us a wave with its tail.

A humpback whale puts on a show.

The boat drops us off on in a sandy cove and our trusted lead guide gives us a safety orientation and background about the area. We learn that these 100-plus islands are renowned for kayak adventures as they provide a true west coast experience in sheltered water. This is ideal for less-experienced sea kayakers like myself. Its plenitude of wilderness camping spots also makes it a favourite among multi-day adventurers.

A group of kayakers stand on a beach at the water’s edge.

Before long we are on our way. Paddling through the desolate islands surrounded by spectacular scenery, I see smiles on fellow kayakers as they marvel at the beauty of this place. Around every islet we take in natural features like sandbars, lagoons, blowholes, rocky outcrops, and secluded anchorages.

A man in a lifejacket paddles in a yellow kayak.

After paddling for a few hours, we pull up onto another sandy beach for a tasty and filling lunch prepared by our guides. The guides share with us some natural and cultural history of the area that is the traditional home to the Tseshaht First Nation. You can feel the spirit of this place knowing that Nuu-chah-nulth canoes cut through the water here centuries ago.

Six kayaks are pulled up onto a beach under a cloudy sky.

We continue our journey hearing only water droplets from our paddles as we peacefully glide over clear waters where beds of kelp wave in the current.

Aerial view of three kayakers paddling through the ocean.

We eventually make our way to the other side of the Broken Group Islands where the boat is waiting to pick us up. As the cruiser boat travels back toward Ucluelet, I look back at these magnificent islands appreciating the west coast even more then I already did. It is a check off the bucket list, but one day I’ll be back again to explore more of this ocean kayaker’s paradise.

A woman paddles through the ocean in a yellow kayak.