“We’re the closest hot tub to the Broken Islands,” says Nancy, one of the managers at the Sechart Lodge on Vancouver Island’s Barkley Sound. That’s music to the ear for anyone who has kayaked through the frigid waters and often fog-laden air of this magnificent archipelago. Until recently, I had no idea that you could kayak the Broken Group Islands, part of Pacific Rim National Park, in warm, dry comfort. Last weekend, we had the pleasure of staying at Sechart Lodge. It’s the only viable non-camping option for kayaking the Broken Islands, and a haven for nature lovers and relaxation seekers. Continue reading
We were loath to leave Nong Khiaw (see Parts I and II) and wondered whether Muang Ngoi, just an hour upstream on the Nam Ou, could hold as much appeal. It did, and perhaps even a tad more. Like Nong Khiaw, its riverside location and mountain scenery are stunning, but Muang Ngoi is smaller and even more basic and laid back. Mike and I agree that our favourite day of our travels through Cambodia and Laos was in Muang Ngoi: relaxing, hiking, caving, kayaking, and shopping for weavings (well, that last one was more up my alley).
Some of you may remember a post from a year ago where I raved about a guided sea kayaking expedition in the Johnstone Strait/Broughton Archipelago (near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia). Mike wasn’t able to come with me because of an injured shoulder. We decided to book the trip again with our friends Trish and Steve. I was a bit apprehensive. Could this trip possibly be as good as my first experience? It was! Six days of spectacular ocean kayaking and wilderness camping, awesome wildlife encounters, a dream group, and extraordinary guiding provided by Spirit of the West Adventures (SOW).
I nose my kayak toward a deserted beach. Well…deserted except for six tents, a tarp, and two of our guides who have been setting up camp while our group paddles through the turquoise water. Rumour has it, we’ll be having ceviche for lunch. Afternoon options will include snorkeling, paddle boarding, hiking, and relaxing on the beach. Appetizers, margaritas, and easy conversation will follow. We’ll dine on something scrumptious like fish tacos or chicken mole. A full moon will cast an outrageous sheen on the ocean and desert hills. We’ll stumble, happily exhausted, into our tents. Then, we’ll blissfully repeat it all again the next day. But first, there’s café y heuvos. That was the rhythm of our 5-day kayaking excursion to Isla Espíritu Santo with ROW Sea Kayak Adventures. Continue reading
I just got back from a family vacation in Baja California Sur, Mexico. We were only gone for two weeks but our experiences were so grand it felt like we were away for much longer. I checked off one of my top bucket list wishes—swimming with whale sharks. I danced an underwater ballet with friendly sea lions. I discovered the most beautiful beach on earth. I kayaked through impossibly turquoise water and camped on secluded, desert-backed beaches. I was seduced by the laid-back, friendly cities of La Paz and Loreto (see map at end). I’m sorting through hundreds of photos and have plans for at least four posts dedicated to special places and amazing nature activities. For now, I want to share a few of my favourite moments. Continue reading
I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences in some really beautiful places. Kayaking with the whales in the Broughton Archipelago ranks right up there with the best of them. The spectacular scenery in BC’s largest marine park, off Vancouver Island’s northeast coast, is alone worth the visit. But paddling through waters with orcas (killer whales), and waking up to the sound of spouting humpback whales puts it over the top.
I’m not a seasoned kayaker, nor do I own the necessary equipment. So, I decided to sign up for a 6-day kayaking expedition with Spirit of the West. Great decision! Sadly, Mike couldn’t join me; his back was out. Too bad, I’ll have to go again! Continue reading
I’ve discovered another amazing day excursion in easy driving distance from Vancouver: a canoe or kayak trip down the Harrison River in the beautiful Fraser Valley. Fall is an awesome time to do this trip. The foliage glows with brilliant colour, spawning salmon spring from the water, and hundreds of seagulls, bald eagles, and herons are feasting on the spoils.
The easiest place to start the trip is in the pretty little town of Harrison Hot Springs. There’s a beach and public dock to launch your craft. If you don’t own a canoe or kayak, Steve at Killer Cove Boat Rental, is happy to set you up. Continue reading