On a trip to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island town of Tofino, I knew I wanted to experience the water. But how? Should we go on a boat tour, surf, or kayak?

I’ve known friends learning to surf the frigid Pacific waters, but I haven’t gotten the courage to try surfing yet (maybe because I’m prone to nasty ear infections and like to keep my head above the water).

Booking a Tofino Kayaking Tour

My number one mission for the trip was to rent kayaks and paddle out to one of the small islands to set up camp for the night. The only problem: The Tofino kayak rental companies wouldn’t rent to us without proper kayaking rescue training. Yes, we could have lied, but the waters and depths vary and we didn’t know how to roll kayaks or what to do if something on our trip went south. Reading too many outdoor books, I retreated the notion of having a fire on the beach to ourselves.

booking a kayaking trip with Paddle West

We booked a day kayaking tour with Paddle West. They offer overnight tours as well, but we opted to do a shorter trip to save a little money. It was probably for the best because it was a rainy few days of camping in town.

What’s Included

As most kayak tours, we were outfitted with paddles and spray skirts while being briefed on what to do. “Has anyone never paddled before?” is the question I always dread when signing up for a tour. You never know what type of group you’re going to get, but it always ends up being ok.

Andy and I shared a double kayak, but there is an option for single kayaks. The water was calm at times and choppy at others. The tour guide was amazing as she navigated the shallow waters and sectioned out our next target paddle spots. Doing this allowed all skill levels to go at their pace, within reason. Most paddle guides I’ve had in the past know plenty about biology and the geology of the area and are usually highly educated. Our guide was no different.

Below are some pictures from the kayaking tour last summer. We had all types of weather from sun and calm water to wind, rain, and choppy waves.

Starting our Paddle West Kayaking Tour

Our guide getting the kayaks ready.

Paddle West Kayaking Tour

Fellow paddlers in our group enjoy the sunshine on the water.

some easy paddling conditions

Lazily paddling around.

wolf print in sand

Found some fresh wolf tracks along the beach where we had lunch. I added my print for scale.

kayaks docked at Mud Bay

Kayaks docked on the shores of Mud Bay.

Mud Bay in Tofino

Andy walks around the low tide before ending our paddle break.

starfish

Getting up close and personal with some of the sea creatures.

jellyfish

Jellyfish!

paddling through kelp

Paddling through kelp.

I didn’t want the tour to end, but it did. After a few hours of paddling, we were able to have an intimate water experience in Tofino.

What to Pack

In my experience, tour companies usually provide dry bags and other basic gear like life vests, paddles, and spray skirts. However, consider bringing a few of these extra items to make your Tofino kayaking tour more enjoyable.

  • Sunscreen
  • Dry bags
  • Water shoes or sandals
  • Wind layer
  • Sunglasses or a hat
  • Small towel
  • Ziplock bags or a waterproof phone case