In Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, there is a kayaker’s paradise called the Broken Group Islands. It consists of more than 100 scattered islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and it has been on my bucket list for some time now.
I travelled from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island on BC Ferries, then drove a scenic three-hour route from Nanaimo to the charming town of Ucluelet, where I visited Majestic Ocean Kayaking. They run single- and multi-day trips to the Broken Group, and I signed up for a day-trip adventure. Early the next morning, our tour group started the day with an exciting 40-minute ride on a cruiser boat that brought us to the embarkation point for our paddle adventure into the islands.
Along the way, we spotted a sea lion colony, eagles, and even a whale that gives us a wave with its tail.
The boat dropped us off on a sandy cove where our lead guide gave us a safety orientation and background about the area. We learned that these 100-plus islands are renowned for kayak adventures, as they provide a true west coast experience in sheltered water—ideal for less-experienced sea kayakers like myself. Its plenitude of wilderness camping spots also makes it a favourite among multi-day adventurers.
Before long, we were on our way. Paddling among the desolate islands surrounded by spectacular scenery, I noticed smiles on the faces of fellow kayakers as we all marveled at the beauty of this place. Around every islet were natural features like sandbars, lagoons, blowholes, rocky outcrops, and secluded anchorages.
After paddling for a few hours, we pulled up onto another sandy beach for a tasty and filling lunch prepared by our guides. The guides shared with us some natural and cultural history of the area that is the traditional home of the Tseshaht First Nation. We could feel the spirit of this place, imagining the Indigenous canoes that have cut through the waters here for millennia.
We continued our journey, hearing only water droplets from our paddles as we peacefully glided over the clear water where beds of kelp waved in the current.
We eventually made our way to the other side of the Broken Group, where the boat was waiting to pick us up. As the cruiser boat travelled back toward Ucluelet, I looked back at these magnificent islands, appreciating the west coast even more then I already had. 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.
Originally published in July of 2014.
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