by Jo Barnes –
The warmth of the sun on your face. All is quiet save the birdsong and the splash of water from your paddle. The only physical distancing here is from you to the next horizon.
During this pandemic time, when human connections are limited impacting our mental outlook, kayaking offers a delightful way find open space and feel revitalized again. Not only is it a good workout that strengthens and tone muscles, but it also provides a unique personal encounter with nature. Unlike other watercraft, in a kayak you’re seated at water level, giving you a vantage point to view the scenery.
The Saanich Peninsula boasts a number of beautiful sites with a diversity of mammals, birds and marine life. Many areas are protected from the win,d making them ideal for paddling. Getting out into the fresh air amidst natural beauty helps to boost our spirits and enhance our feeling of connection.
Own your own kayak and looking for a place to launch? Boasting spectacular natural beauty, Tod Inlet is a great destination. At the end of Verdier Avenue by the BC Ferries Terminal in Brentwood Bay, there is a park. Stop at the driveway there where you can unload your boat and equipment and then repark elsewhere. There are also three spots at the north end of the parking lot at Sidney’s Tulista Park Boat Launch where you can park if you’re launching your roof mounted boat. You’ll need a launch pass and will have access to 24-hour parking. For a short carry on all tides and stair access, try the east end of Amherst Avenue where there is also four-hour parking. Another option is Lochside Drive, with various locations between Tulista Boat Launch and south Sidney Municipal boundary.
Want to get paddling but no kayak? No problem! Local kayak operators offer a variety of services and programs. Offering a unique launching ramp and an easy booking system, Pacifica Paddle Sports is an excellent choice. Winner of the Award of Excellence by TripAdvisor, Pacifica operates out of Brentwood Bay and Swartz Bay and offers kayak, canoe and stand up paddleboard rentals. You can book your time, make your payment as well as complete the necessary waiver all online so there’s no need to even come into the office. Staff are cleaning and disinfecting the boats, paddles, PFD’s and other equipment regularly and also rotating use according to best available guidelines. The dock is a ramp, so when you’re ready to paddle, staff stand at the nose of the boat, safely distanced from you and will slide you gently onto the water.
Another recipient of the Award of Excellence by TripAdvisor is A Paddle in the Park based out of North Saanich. This local group offers contactless kayak tours and rentals. Following Health Canada regulations, all boats and the gear you’ll need is sanitized between trips, and distancing is adhered to both on water and on land. Choose one of several tours available. The ” Islands Tour” visits local islands and leaves at 11 a.m. daily. Paddle peacefully under the evening summer sky with the “Sunset Tour” leaving at 6 p.m. Participants need to arrive 15 minutes before each tour.
The water awaits you, so try paddling from a new perspective!