Lund, BC - top of the Sunshine Coast - end of the road - start of your kayaking adventures!
Savary Island is one of the most distinctive locations on the entire west coast of British Columbia. Warm ocean water gently lapping up against expansive sandy beaches make this destination popular for vacationers both locally and from abroad, yet Savary Island also offers fantastic sea kayak opportunities away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
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Savary Island is formed from unconsolidated materials such as marine clay and sand, deposited by meltwater streams from glaciers that advanced southward through the Strait of Georgia and retreated approximately 10 000 years ago. The result is a truly unique tropical-like paradise with features - such as sand dunes and a sensitive dune-ecology - found nowhere else in British Columbia.
From Lund it takes anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to reach Mace Point - the only area of exposed bedrock on the island - on Savary’s eastern shore. By hugging the shore of Malaspina Peninsula southwards from Lund, smart kayakers will avoid the double-pronged hazards of boat traffic and any potential prevailing winds in the Strait of Georgia. Interesting rock formations such as plunging cliffs and deep sea caves wait around every bend, populated by small colonies of seals that watch you curiously as you paddle past.
From Hurtado Point, at the shortest distance between the mainland and sandy Savary, cross to Mace Point on the eastern tip of the island, watching for boat traffic all the while.
Continuing around the south side of the snake shaped isle - originally named Áyhus or ‘double headed serpent’ by the Coast Salish people who have lived on this land for more than four thousand years - you come to South Beach, which is a popular spot for summer vacationers.
With easy access, warm sand stretching into the distance, and protection from prevailing summer winds, South Beach can be busy and well populated in the mid-summer months. Driftwood washed to shore during winter storms are artistically converted into rustic huts and shelters from the midday sun, ball games are picked up and played out on the flat beach or in the shallow bay, and skimboards skip skillfully across the area where the sand and the ocean meet together.
While South Beach is the place to be seen, those looking for more of a remote island getaway have to only venture slightly further around the long southern shore to find their personal oasis.
Huge sandy cliffs rise above the beaches, supporting wonderful west-coast style homes perched precariously close to the eroding edge. Eagles are especially common on the south shore of Savary, sitting in the frail branches of wind-shaped trees.
A shallow reef of massive boulders - left behind by glacial run-off during the last de-glaciation in this area - extends for hundreds of metres off-shore, deterring powerboats and vacationers from approaching too closely. This coupled with a lack of development in the central portion of Savary means that the area known as Duck Bay is virtually deserted at all times of year, with the occasional exception of residents walking their dogs in the trails behind the beach.
At low tide you can paddle - or even walk - out to this boulder-strewn reef to explore the tidal pools and the fascinating marine life that occupies this unique ecosystem, from sea stars to sand dollars to fierce-looking, slug-like sea cucumbers. Eagles use the massive boulders as perches to scan the ocean for prey, while seals and sea lions occupy each new rock as they are exposed by the falling tide, sunning themselves much like their human contemporaries on South Beach.
On the beach, gulls, herons, oystercatchers, sandpipers and other shorebirds are abundant. The winds that form the sand-dunes in this area also cause the erosion and deposition of the insecure shoreline, meaning that human impact must be minimized to protect this fragile environment. Duck Bay is a fantastic place to camp in the shadow of Vancouver Island, but care must be taken to ensure the ecology of the island - which supports numerous flora endemic to Savary - is maintained.
From Duck Bay, it is a simple paddle back to Lund the way you arrived, but ambitious kayakers may fancy a full circumnavigation of Savary to the northern shore. Rounding Indian Point at the western tip of the island offers some of the best views in the area, with the white-capped spine of Vancouver Island to your left and the impenetrable peaks of Desolation Sound and the Coast Mountains on your right.
If choosing to circumnavigate Savary, attention should be given to the rise and fall of the tides. A 14 mile trip hugging the shore with high tides can be extended by a number of miles should the tides be low, with the flat, shallow beaches extended hundreds of metres in places to the ocean when the tide is way out!
It is recommended to return to Lund after hugging the entire northern coast of the island and crossing at the shortest point back to the mainland. While it may be tempting to make the 4.5 mile crossing straight to Lund from Indian Point, distances on the water are often misleading, and weather can change quickly in the exposed Strait of Georgia, trapping inexperienced kayakers far from safety.
Despite its reputation as a tourist and vacationers hotspot, Savary Island also offers fantastic remote exploration by kayak, and some of the most picturesque campsites to be found anywhere on the west coast.