Vancouver’s Best Water Sports

Tone up and burn some major calories before summer ends with these local water sports

Credit: Brent Thibault

Vancouver offers a number of water-sport activities for all fitness levels

One of the perks of summer is hitting the open water, feeling the wind in your hair, breathing in the salt water, and living up those carefree summer days. And there are so many local activities to choose from for every fitness level. Less intense sports include tubing, fishing, and boating to more intense sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, and kite boarding – all of which are offered in Vancouver’s stunning harbour.

With so many great options, deciding on your next water adventure can be challenging, so I’ve put together a list of the very best to try out before summer is over.

Credit: Brent Thibault

Standup Paddleboard

Whether you’re looking for a core workout or a relaxing morning on the water, stand-up paddleboarding is a great option for everyone – it can be as easy or as difficult as you want. Vancouver Water Adventures has both private and group tours available in False Creek and Kitsilano Beach. I would recommend one of the 90-minute morning SUP Board group sessions that are available Wednesday to Sunday throughout the summer with reservations required.

Credit: Flickr/Hairi

Light the Night Tour

Also with Vancouver Water Adventures on Granville Island, one of the coolest tours I’ve been lucky enough to experience is the Light the Night Tour. Every Friday and Saturday night, the tour departs 30 minutes prior to sunset for 90 minutes. Your lit-up kayak or paddleboard takes you from sunset to darkness with the city lights of False Creek on full display. As you make your way through the tour, you’ll work up a good sweat, train your core and torch your deltoids. I was fortunate enough to take this tour on the last night of the Celebration of Lights fireworks display, which I highly recommend for next year.

Jet Ski and Seadoo

For the thrill seeker: jump on a jet ski or seadoo full throttle and hang on! It’s bound to be one hell of a ride and it’s the ultimate way to experience Vancouver by water. Tour out onto the Pacific Ocean and enjoy the sun while you journey up the peaceful waters of Howe Sound, or jet ski over to Bowen Island. You’ll get a great total body workout. Park the boat and head ashore to enjoy a delicious bite to eat on the island.

Credit: Brent Thibault


For those who want to leisurely explore False Creek or English Bay, taking a canoe out on the water is relaxing and provides a new perspective on the city’s blend of urban and natural beauty. It also gives you time to refocus and find inner peace.

There are many advantages to canoeing. For example, you can explore areas a motor boat can’t navigate, it is quiet enough to not disturb local wildlife, and it’s big enough to carry your travel gear.

There are some incredible spots to canoe as you venture east of the city, such as Deer Lake in Burnaby and Buntzen Lake, near Port Moody as well as Alouette Lake in Maple Ridge, which is surrounded by mountains, wildlife and picturesque views.

Water-skiing and Wakeboarding

A great way to beat the heat is Mother Nature’s air conditioner, as I like to say. With the nice, cool breeze coming off the water, you won’t even notice the sweltering temperatures. Water-skiing and wakeboarding take a lot of upper body strength. The hardest part is always at the beginning when you need to pull yourself up and out of the water. Keep your core engaged and your legs bent in a chair position while you hold on. After a few times out on the water, you’ll notice more tone and definition to your arms and legs. For some calm waves and swells, I suggest White Rock or Kelowna.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Vancouver divers can experience easy, shore-access diving in a pristine marine environment. Dive sunken wrecks, look for octopus, squid and wolf eels or take a charter to the myriad walls, pinnacles, and reefs. There are many opportunities to go diving off the coast of Howe Sound, Deep Cove, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, exploring rocky islets or swimming with resident seals or dolphins.

Ocean Quest is the most accredited Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) dive centre in Greater Vancouver as it is only one of two dive centres in Canada (the other is in Montreal) to earn PADI’s highest dive-centre rating – definitely a fun, friendly atmosphere with quality dive training available for beginners to advanced.

Credit: Brent Thibault


The best place to learn to surf is in the Tofino-Ucluelet area. The national park and Tofino city beaches provide miles of sandy shoreline with a wide variety of swell windows. The best thing about Tofino-Ucluelet is that it isn’t crowded, so there is plenty of room for beginners to develop their surfing skills.

Credit: Brent Thibault

Boating and Sailing

I could sit out on the ocean for hours, soaking up the sunshine with some good tunes, rocking back and forth on a boat. Cooper Boating in Granville Island has day sailing, and courses and clinics available in Vancouver, Sidney and Powell River, ranging from beginner to expert level.

Credit: Brent Thibault


Fishing in both salt water and freshwater is a favourite in Vancouver pastime. B.C.’s mild and temperate climate means year-round fishing opportunities. Well-suited for beginners and first-time anglers, salmon, rockfish, crabs, and other shellfish are easily caught in the waters near Horseshoe Bay, Capilano River, Rice Lake and the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Kite Boarding

This is an activity that is fairly new to me and has always sparked my interest due to its challenging appeal. Kite boarding provides a uniquely challenging workout that focuses on both upper and lower body strength, coordination and endurance. The Kiteboarding School in Squamish offers water lessons from beginner to pro with access to their gear, turning you in to a confident kitter in no time. Individual or group lessons are available.

White Water Rafting

Experience some of the best white-water rafting trips here in B.C. – with everything from family-friendly floats to adrenaline-pumping trips to choose from.

Raft, relax, recharge is the motto at Kumsheen Rafting Resort, just three hours up the highway from Vancouver in Lytton, B.C. An exhilarating experience down the Thompson and Fraser Rivers, rafting trips range from a three-hour Devil’s Gorge Run to a six-hour Legendary Thomson River expedition. There is something for everyone – from white-water kayaking lessons to rock climbing and beginner-to-advanced mountain biking. Combine a night in their cozy canvas cabins or tent sites with a day of river rafting for a perfect summer weekend getaway. Wear your lifejacket, helmet and get ready for a wild ride.