Going on adventures is an essential part of life here on the Sunshine Coast. With seemingly endless kilometres of coastline to explore and a beautiful array of lakes, watersports are a popular pastime here on the coast. You’ll see locals and visitors alike out kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding as a way to relax, have some fun, and spend some time connecting with nature.

But before you head out on a paddling trip, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you’re prepared—some of the best places to paddle on the Sunshine Coast are fairly remote. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your paddling trip.

Paddling in Sechelt Inlet, Photo: Andrew Strain

Make a Plan

This might seem like a given, but it’s extremely important. You need to decide on where you want to paddle, when you want to paddle, who you plan to paddle with. Consider the tides and currents, the wind conditions, the weather forecast, and the estimated time you think you’ll need for your trip. It’s important to leave your trip plan with someone you trust.

Planning out a route yourself can be challenging, but luckily numerous Sunshine Coast companies offer guided tours for those times where you want to leave the navigating to the pros.

Find Yourself a Kayak/Canoe/Stand-up Paddleboard

If you don’t own your own kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, don’t worry—rentals are available on the Sunshine Coast! Just be sure that you are confident in the option you choose and make sure it’s suitable for the conditions you’ll be in.

If you’re an inexperienced paddler, make sure that you set out with an experienced paddling partner or consider booking a tour with a local tour company. Many cater to different experience levels and can help you explore some amazing places along the Sunshine Coast.

Paddling on Elk Lake, Photo: Matthew Massa

Take a Lesson

Your trip will go a lot smoother if you know some proper techniques. Take a lesson with a local tour company to learn some tips and tricks—even if you’ve paddled in the past, sometimes a refresher course is just the thing you need.

Bring (and Wear) Safety Equipment

While we always hope to stick to our plans, the reality is that accidents can—and do—happen. However, having access to the proper safety equipment could save your life while out on the water.

All paddlers must wear a personal floatation device (PFD/life jacket) and must carry a buoyant heaving line (a tow rope/throw bag) that’s at least 15 metres long. If you’re kayaking or canoeing, a bailer (pump, bucket, etc.) is also a must-have piece of safety equipment. Other important equipment can include a watertight flashlight, a first aid kit, a map, a whistle or a mirror, and a spare paddle.

If you’re renting a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard, your rental will likely include the safety equipment you need, but ultimately you are responsible for being prepared and paddling safely.

Pack Some Essentials

Whether you’re out for a quick trip or planning to spend the day on the water, it’s important to pack some essentials. Water and snacks (such as granola bars and fruit) are key provisions to take with you; keeping up your energy and staying hydrated will make your trip more enjoyable. The pros say to bring more water than you think you’ll need.

Nothing is worse than the souvenir of cut up feet and burnt skin you receive from a day at a West Coast beach. Consider wearing water shoes, which are great for walking on the beach and getting in and out of your kayak. If you are going to spend time in the sun, wearing sunscreen is a must, and it’s a good idea to bring extra sunscreen so that you can reapply as needed. You might also want to bring along a swim towel, some extra clothes (check the weather forecast and plan for weather changes), a tent if you’re planning to camp, and a cell phone.

Protect Your Valuables

Bring a dry bag with you! It’s no fun to deal with soggy food or cell phones. Companies may provide or rent them, but if you plan on doing a lot of paddling, you may want to invest in your own. In a pinch, a Ziplock bag can sometimes do the trick.

A guided tour with Halfmoon Sea Kayaks, Photo: @glamouraspirit

Enjoy the Views

After all your preparation, it’s finally time to get out on the water! Going out for a paddle is a great way to nurture your sense of well-being—remember to enjoy the views and listen to the sounds of nature. If you come across wildlife, just go slow and keep your distance.

Resources for Outdoor Adventurers

You can learn more about planning outdoor adventures, wildlife safety, and responsible backcountry travel on the following websites: