If you find yourself in the Greater Vancouver area, you owe it to yourself to go kayaking in Deep Cove. This beautiful, sleepy cove is one of the most magical places for kayaking, Stand up Paddleboarding, and boating on the planet.
The cold, clear water is teeming with life – including beautiful moon jellyfish, massive purple starfish, curious harbor seals, and all manner of seabirds. The calm, protected waters make for excellent paddling no matter what your experience level is.
I was fortunate enough to get out on the water on a calm, foggy September day, and had one of the best kayaking experiences of my life.
I’ll break down everything you need to know when it comes to kayaking in Deep Cove, including rentals, routes, and how to get the most out of your time on the water.
Deep Cove Kayaking Overview
Deep cove, located just half an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, is an idyllic seaside village surrounded by mountains at the far eastern end of North Vancouver. It’s got a little something for everyone, including hiking, paddle sports, boating, swimming, and simply enjoying the beautiful views from a local bar or restaurant.
The real attraction here is without a doubt the water. A picturesque sandy beach, pier, yacht club, and marina line the waterfront, with some of the most expensive real estate in North Vancouver peppering the shores of the fjord.
A rental company is located slightly east of the pier rents out single and tandem ocean kayaks, as well as stand up paddleboards and surfskis at reasonable rates.
Once you’re on the water, there are a number of different routes you can take, ranging from a quick half-hour hop across the water to full-day paddles up to Granite Falls at the northern end of the Indian Arm Fjord.
The water is generally calm and clear here, so you can easily spot wildlife in and above the water.
Unless you bring your own craft, you’ll probably want to rent a kayak from the excellent folks over at Deep Cove Kayak. They’ll set you up with everything you need including a kayak, paddles, safety gear, and a quick lesson to make sure you know what you’re doing, and how to use the rudder on an ocean kayak.
You’ll need to show up 15 minutes before your rental time to fill out the rental waiver and get fitted for a life jacket and paddle.
We rented a tandem kayak for 2 hours, which came to just under $60 Canadian. The kayak and gear were in pristine condition, and the staff was friendly and helpful.
You can also rent kayaks for the full day for 85$ CAD for a single kayak and $115 CAD for a double.
There are several different routes you can take, depending on how much time you have available. We decided to head right as we paddled out of Deep Cove, which leads you south to several small islands and beaches.
The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the water is filled with translucent pink and blue jellyfish. These are known as White Moon Jellyfish and are actually completely harmless. You’ll probably also spot a few solid red-colored jellyfish – these are lions mane jellies – don’t touch these as they have a painful sting.
As we rounded the first bend at the mouth of the cove, we could see the water opening up, and spot several smaller islands in the distance.
Grey Rocks Island
The first island we paddled to was Grey Rocks Island. It’s about a 20-minute paddle from the launch spot at Deep Cove.
This small island is surrounded by calm shallow water with huge purple starfish, anemones, and an assortment of jellyfish. The rocky shoal on the south-east side of the island is a particularly good spot to observe the marine life below.
It’s a private island, so you’ll have to remain inside your kayak as you explore. There’s also a small public beach and park called Strathcona Park on the mainland near the northern side of Grey Rocks Island.
On the southern side of Grey Rocks island, you’ll get a better view of the entire Fjord, including some breathtaking houses along the water. We paddled a little further south, and spotted a seal relaxing on the surface in the middle of the water!
We headed towards the seal to get a better look, but he dove underwater shortly after. At this point, it seemed like a good time to cross to check out Boulder Island in the middle of the Fjord.
There was minimal boat traffic that day, so crossing the water was a breeze. As we headed towards Boulder Island the wind picked up ever so slightly, but it was still a fairly easy paddle.
Boulder Island sits halfway between two shores, and sports tall trees where eagles and seabirds like to congregate. It’s also private, so you won’t be able to land your craft there.
Belcarra Park sits on the far shore about 3 km from Deep Cove and is accessible by car via Coquitlam/Port Moody. It’s a nice little park with a long pier, bathrooms, concession stands, and a sandy beach that’s perfect for landing your kayak or SUP.
As we pulled in here, we spotted an angler fishing and dropping crab traps from a small inflatable raft along the shoreline. Several more people were fishing and crabbing from the end of the pier with what looked like great success.
We paddled right up to the beach and pulled the kayak out of the water so we could walk around. If you plan to stay for a while, make sure to pull your craft clear of the beach, so the tides won’t carry away your boat!
As it was getting time to head back, we decided to pass between Hamber Island and the mainland north of Belcarra Park. There was a slight current in the water, which made paddling back a little more demanding.
Hamber Island is a small privately-owned island connected to the mainland by a small concrete bridge. You can paddle underneath the bridge as long as the tide will allow it, and the water beneath the bridge is calm and crystal clear.
From here, we headed back to the launch spot at Deep Cove, and spotted several more seals hanging out in near the large orange buoys at the entrance to the cove!
This route was perfect if you’ve got about 2 hours to paddle, but there are also several other routes you can take depending on how much time you’ve got. I’ll break these down briefly.
A short hop across the water, Jug Island lies just north of Belcarra Park. This small island is about a 30-minute paddle from Deep Cove and is right next to one of the nicest pebble beaches in all of Indian Arm.
The island itself is difficult to access, with a very steep shoreline. Right around the corner from Jug Island is a hangout area for harbor seals, as well as the calm, protected inlet of Bedwell Bay.
Bedwell Bay is a protected inlet known for its calm water and abundant natural life. The clear water is filled with sea stars and jellyfish, while bald eagles, harbor seals, and even sea lions can often be spotted here on a good day.
There are no places to pull in inside the bay itself, after Jug Island Beach at the entrance to the bay.
If you have the time for it, kayaking from Deep Cove all the way up to Granite Falls at top of Indian Arm is well worth it. The Falls are located 18 km north of Deep Cove which is about a 3 to 4-hour paddle.
These impressive falls feature a huge waterfall that flows down over 150 feet. It’s located near the Indian River Estuary where the river meets the ocean.
You can camp out near the falls if you have the time, with the camping area south of the falls being the nicest camping spot in the entire Indian Arm.
If you plan to paddle here from Deep Cove make sure you have your craft for the full day. A more leisurely paddle would be to paddle there one day, camp in Granite Falls overnight, and then paddle back the following day.