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Kayak the Sooke Basin near Victoria, BC (Vancouver Island)

By touring - Posted on 15 October 2010

Kayak the Sooke Basin near Victoria, BC (Vancouver Island)

Located 20 minutes outside of Victoria, BC is a kayaker’s dream of calm water and scenic shores. The Sooke Basin is in the southwest corner of Vancouver Island and is a 4 km x 3 km ocean bay that’s sheltered from the open winds and waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Kayakers are protected from the ocean winds by the East Sooke hills to the west while the crashing waves from the Juan de Fuca Strait are blocked by the sandy finger of Whiffen Spit.

Some of my best summer adventures have been spent kayaking the rocky shores of Sooke, BC with birds flying above and seals swimming below.

The Sooke Basin is best explored in the quiet morning or the early evening when the winds are non-existent. The water is glassy, the air is cool and the sun is warm; the only sounds to break the tranquil silence is the occasional screech of an eagle or a distant knocking from a woodpecker.

On my outings, my yellow kayak acts like a floating beacon, attracting curious seals that bob and dive below. As I pass the rocky shores, pigmy deer follows my progress with an unconcerned stare as it nonchalantly chews some gardener’s delicious flowers.

It’s odd to not to feel like an intruder to the , but the place is used to migrating visitors like the transient birds, seals and forest creatures.

In the afternoon, the westerly winds pick up slightly as the sun warms the surrounding land of Vancouver Island causing the convection currents to pick up. The hills of East Sooke Park provide enough protection from the gusts but the water isn’t as serene and placid as it is at dawn or dusk. is one of my favourite trips in the area.

10 Reasons to Kayak the Sooke Basin on Vancouver Island, BC

  1. Easy to get to – Sooke is located only 20 minutes from suburban Victoria.
  2. The best time to go is during the summer and fall when the winds are light and the air-temperature is warm. There are beautiful days at other times of year but rain showers from the Pacific Ocean are frequent.
  3. There are three main areas to kayak around the Sooke Basin –
    • Anderson Cove and the western shores are the best place to see eagles soaring and swans swimming. Quiet acreages and homes are tucked in the trees along the shoreline. An easy launch site is along East Sooke Road but can be muddy at low tide. This is one of our favourite
    • – A thin finger of sand, sometimes no wider than 2 meters, makes for an easy kayak launch site. On one side, the water is calm and suitable for beginner & intermediate kayakers. On the other side is rough water where more advanced kayakers can practice surf landings and even encounter whales.
    • Cooper’s Cove – On the eastern side of the Sooke Basin is a sheltered cove that leads past the Galloping Goose Trail and into Roche Cove Regional Park. A wooden trestle bridge greats kayakers to this quiet cove, lined with large trees down to the shoreline.

  4. Kayak for a few hours or for a whole day on the Sooke Basin.
  5. Kayaking around Victoria & Sooke BC on Vancouver Island, Canada
    The morning waters are calm and cool on the Sooke Basin on Vancouver Island.
  6. Located just outside the Sooke Harbour are excellent fishing grounds that attract anglers and whales. Experienced ocean kayakers should only paddle this area since you need to read tide & current charts. Watch for whales surfacing and breaching.
  7. Vancouver Island is on the Pacific Flyway and kayaking is one of the best ways to see eagles, osprey, hawks and even owls flying overhead or roosting in the surrounding forest. is best during the spring and fall as they migrating past Vancouver Island.
  8. Swimming is not recommended as the Pacific Ocean is +10 C year round. Wetsuits are strongly recommended for kayaking just in case of a rollover.
  9. Bioluminescence is an unforgettable phenomenon that shouldn’t be missed. At various times of the year, plankton will invade the waters. On dark nights, you’ll see a trail of lights in the water as the kayak disturbs their watery home. It's a dazzling display of nature that's unforgettable.
  10. The islands around Sooke are sacred to the T’Souke people, the original inhabitants of southern Vancouver Island, and should not be tread upon as these have been used as burial grounds.
  11. After a relaxing day on the water, drive into town and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants.

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Bring your own kayaks or rent one from local adventure companies. Kayaking the Sooke Basin will take you to a quiet refuge on the very edge of where the rainforest meets the sea.

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Get more insider tips on Canadian Adventures at Scenic Travel Canada.

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