Ride the tide out to Vargas Island, West of Tofino. This tour offers a taste of real West Coast paddling, open coastal views, short crossings between islands, rugged shoreline and sandy beaches.
Tofino Islands Kayaking Tour
- Adult Ages 19-64
- Senior Ages 65+
- Youth Ages 13-18
- Child Ages 5-12
Islands Kayaking Tour
On the 2.5hr Islands Kayaking Tour, you will depart from Tofino with our friends at Paddle West Kayaking and explore shorelines and island channels while enjoying the breathtaking sights of Tofino’s surrounding waterways. This is the perfect guided kayak tour if you only have a couple of hours but still want to experience the scenery and wildlife Tofino and Clayoquot Sound are famous for. This tour does not make stops on land (unless it is necessary) and explores the many islands surrounding Tofino by sea kayak. The route changes and depends on the tide and the conditions each day. Our guides are skilled at selecting the most suitable route for you.
There are many reasons to go sea kayaking in Tofino or Ucluelet. We find that many of our guests are always surprised at how our kayak tours and guides exceeded their expectations.
Our tours are much more than just going sea kayaking. Although, sea kayaking is exciting on its own!
Of course, you will get some exercise. But don’t worry, we take breaks along the way.
At Paddle West Kayaking, we most often have a small group of no more than 6 kayakers with a guide, which makes the experience intimate and quiet, allowing you to talk amongst each other and experience the sounds or lack of sounds while paddling in nature. Sitting in a kayak on the water provides a unique opportunity to explore shallow waters. Closer to shore, admire the abundant sea life below and the towering living rainforest above.
Along the way, your guide will add their extensive knowledge of the natural and cultural history and if you are lucky they will tell you some good jokes too. Your guide will ensure you are comfortable in the kayaks as you navigate through the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nations on our Tofino based tours or the Yuutu?it?aht and Toquaht First Nations on our Ucluelet based tours.
–Sea Kayaks with rudders. We stock Seaward, Current Designs, Boreal, and Old Town brand kayaks. Double kayaks are recommended. We can usually provide single kayaks on request. Kayak selection is at the discretion of the guide.
–Paddles (Aquabound brand)
–5L dry bag for your snacks and phone.
–10-20L dry bag for any extra clothes you would like to bring along.
–Personal Floatation Device (PFD) (Salus brand paddling specific)
–Neoprene gloves (by request)
–Sturdy footwear you can get wet (sport sandals, running shoes, neoprene boots). Most of the time we do our best to keep your feet dry but, you are going kayaking, wet feet sometimes happen.
–Dress in layers and avoid cotton if possible. Even if it’s warm and sunny, bring an extra warm layer and/or a shell jacket so you are prepared if the conditions change. We will give you a dry bag for your extra clothes. Wear shorts or quick-dry pants.
-Bring a rain jacket and rain pants if it looks like it might rain.
–Hat for the sun.
–Water Bottle and Snacks. We have reusable stainless-steel bottles for you to use if you require. There is no need to buy another plastic water bottle.
–Camera. We will provide a small dry bag you can access while kayaking. All electronics are brought at your own risk. Paddle West Kayaking does not replace cameras or phones.
–Bug repellent is not necessary on kayak day trips, but if you are very sensitive to bugs then you can bring some along.
Do I need experience? You do not need experience. Our guides will show you everything you need to know to enjoy your time on the water.
Will I see wildlife? Yes, wildlife is a guarantee on all of our tours including small and very interesting intertidal life and many types of birds. Common sightings include harbour seals, bald eagles, river otters, jellyfish, raccoons, sea stars, blue herons, anemones, kelp crabs, juvenile fish, sea lions. Less common sightings include porpoise, black bears*, grey whales, tree frogs, salamanders. Rare and lucky sightings include orcas, humpback whales. It is extremely rare to witness Sasquatch.
*The best chance to see black bears is on our 2.5 hour Harbour Tour in Ucluelet at low tide.
Can I rent kayaks? Kayak rentals are reserved for experienced kayakers knowledgeable about kayak self and assisted rescue techniques, knowledge, and practice paddling in tides and currents and chart navigation. We only rent kayaks from our Tofino location, there are no kayak rentals in Ucluelet. It is best to email or call to book ahead of time as we do not always have kayaks available to rent. Please see our rentals page for more info: Tofino Kayak Rentals
Will I Capsize? Capsizes do happen but they are VERY rare. The sea kayaks we use are proper sea kayaks that are larger than the ones used on the river or at the lake. They are VERY stable and our guides are skilled at making you feel safe and instructing you how to keep upright. We recommend double kayaks for beginners or anyone that is nervous.
How difficult is kayaking?
Sea kayaking is easy, especially with instruction from our guides. The kayaks have rudders so you can steer them with your feet. Kayaks are human-powered so you will have to put in some effort to move the kayaks. We make sure to take plenty of breaks along the way as there is so much to see. The guides can slow the pace or speed it up depending on the preference and skill of the group.
Can I kayak with children? Yes! Our minimum age is 5 years old in order to join one of our tours. Children sit in the front of a double kayak with one parent sitting in the back. If you have 2 children and only 1 adult we can usually arrange for a child to paddle with the guide. Our guides will be certain to entertain the whole family.
Do you still go kayaking if it is raining? The answer to this is YES. Paddling in the rainforest while it’s raining can be very magical. There is no such thing as bad weather when you have a good attitude and the right gear. However, we realize not everyone shares this perspective. Please check the weather 24 hrs before your tour and be kind and make any changes to your reservation with as much notice as possible, preferably, outside of 24hrs. In the instance when it is very rainy and also windy we will offer to cancel or re-book the tour at no expense to you.
Is there parking? Yes, in Tofino there is often plenty of parking at Jamie’s Whaling Station where we are located. There are also RV parking spaces at our location in Tofino. Ucluelet has a few parking spaces but the office is located downtown and it is usually not too difficult to find nearby parking.
Can I bring my dog? Unfortunately, you cannot bring your dog on your kayak tour because our guides are not trained in dog CPR. However, we do love dogs and are often able to arrange care for your dog in the on-site kennels with our friends at Jamie’s Whaling Station. There is also professional dog walking services that we can refer you to. Please reserve a space ahead of time.
What if I need to go to the bathroom? There is a washroom on-site available during check-in. On the water, please notify your guide and they will be able to pull over and find you a place to use the “facili-trees”. Your guide will carry everything you need to go to the bathroom responsibly and in style.
-There is a 24-hour cancellation and rebooking policy for kayak day tours. For groups larger than 6 people, there is a 48-hour cancellation and rebooking policy.
– For cancellations within 24hrs, 100% of the booking will be charged.
– For rebookings within 24hrs to a later time or date, there is a $20/person fee. Rebooking a tour is dependent on tour availability, if there are no availabilities that fit your schedule and you cannot make your original tour time, the cancellation policy is in effect.
-All cancellations or changes to bookings outside of 24 hours from departure will receive a full refund.
-Any cancellations that are made by Paddle West Kayaking due to inclement conditions will receive a full refund or be re-booked on another available date at no charge.
Paddle West Kayaking takes your safety seriously. Safety is embedded into all aspects of our business.
Our guides are certified members of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC) or must hold the equivalent certifications.
To be a Sea Kayak Guide for Paddle West Kayaking all guides must have:
-16-hour First Aid course or higher
-CPR “C” certification
-Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF Radio
-Completed a SKGABC level 1 or higher sea kayak guide course and written exam
Paddle West Kayaking also conducts extensive in house-training of all of our guides in order to practice skills specific to guiding in Tofino and Ucluelet, as well as in-season rescue skills practice.
All new kayak guides must work under an experienced sea kayak guide for a specified number of trips before the new guide is able to guide alone.
Paddle West Kayaking maintains and stocks its own safety gear for guides and ensures the guides carry a First Aid Kit, Cell phone, VHF Radio, Extra Warm Clothes Bag, Repair Kit, Rope Systems for Towing, Manual Bilge Pump, Paddle Float.
-Sea Kayaks are full-length touring Sea Kayaks that are stable and suitable for paddling on the West Coast.
-We provide comfortable certified PFD’s made in Canada by Salus Marine and an attached whistle.
-We provide Kayak “Skirts” that cover the cockpit that you sit in while paddling.
-We provide Dry Bags to keep your things safe.
In 2020, Paddle West Kayaking hosted many guests from across Canada with no exposures. We worked hard to modify our daily routines to keep our staff and our guests safe. Luckily, sea kayaking takes place outdoors and during our time on the water physical distancing is very easy to accomplish. Our policies were audited in person in 2020 by Work Safe BC, which allowed us to continue our safe operations. If you are at all concerned or would like to request more information, please ask. We look forward to paddling safely with you in 2021.
Our policies include:
-Covid-19 cancellation policy. If you are feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 you should cancel your tour and we will provide a full refund. We ask that if you cancel due to feeling unwell that you follow public health orders and recommendations to protect our community.
-Staff Illness Policies and Monitoring
-Additional office and washroom cleaning procedures
-Physical distancing maintained throughout check-in and while on the dock and on-water
-Mandatory masks indoors and on the dock and when passing other groups
-All common equipment is washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and hung to dry completely and rotated out of service for a minimum of 24 hrs.
-Kayaks and paddles are sanitized using disinfectant spray on all common touchpoints after each use
-Guides carry N95 masks and gloves for use in any first aid situations and are trained to use physically distanced kayak rescue techniques if appropriate.
Minimum Guest Requirements
Tours require a minimum of 2 guests for the tour to go out. You may book a tour as a single kayaker and if we cannot find a friend for you to paddle with, we will notify you and make other arrangements to get you out kayaking.
All participants will be required to sign a waiver before departing on a kayak tour with Paddle West Kayaking.
In addition to the listed fees on this page, all bookings will have the additional fees added at checkout:
-6% Booking Fees (online only)