Beach parties, crowded waterway channels, bumper-to-bumper boats—these are the images that came to mind when I imagined houseboating on the Shuswap. Turns out my first experience didn’t live up to those stereotypes. And for that, I was glad

We had been planning this houseboating trip for more than a year. Houseboating is so popular in BC that you need to book your boat well in advance, particularly if you’re planning to go during the busiest weekend on the lake – the August long weekend.

Our party of eight (nine if you count the baby on board) arrived in Sicamous, BC, just after our 8 am boarding time at Waterway Houseboats’ busy dock.

A 20-minute video gave us the run-down on houseboat operation, and a staff person walked us through the most important details – you know, like how to fill the hot tub on the top deck.

Two hours later we boarded our boat, the elegantly named Lady in Red, and we were finally on our way. Destination: a quiet beach about five hours away.

Life is Good on a Houseboat

We quickly settled into our houseboat identities: the women stocked the pantry and made lunch while the men drove the boat and plotted our navigation strategy.

Gender roles I’d normal eschew actually felt natural on the water, and soon enough most everyone wound up in the hot tub with a beverage in hand. We eventually found the perfect private beach and settled in just before dinnertime.

Our boat came equipped with a barbecue, full kitchen, three bedrooms and two additional convertible sleeping areas. In addition to the hot tub, the upper deck also had a sitting area, sun-tanning area, and my favourite feature, a slide into the lake, which made for hours of refreshing dunks into the relatively warm water.

Although the lake was loaded with about 1,000 houseboats, we were easily able to avoid the crowds and find our own secluded spots to camp out each night (houseboats are required to park on a beach by 6 pm.)

Our second evening produced a brilliant thunder and lightening storm, followed by nighttime showers, which made our water residence that much cozier.

Exploring Shuswap Lake

Shuswap Lake offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure. Be sure to pack your fishing rod, as the fish literally jump out at you. If you’re into hiking, you can explore the trails that wind their way through the surrounding forests.  

And, of course, if you are the party-boat type, you won’t be alone. Party-oriented beaches are plentiful, and if you miss out on beach space, you can simply link up with like-minded boats for your own mid-lake fun.

More than anything, houseboating is a chance to spend time with eight, 10 or even up to 30 of your closest friends in one of the most picturesque settings you’ll ever encounter.

With all the amenities, it’s like luxury camping on water, with a few extras like a slide and a hot tub. I loved the whole experience, and next time I go, I’ll definitely plan on spending more than a long weekend onboard.

See more houseboating photos