Specializing in Sea Kayak rentals for Desolation Sound - on the west coast of British Columbia!
Kayak rentals for destinations such as Desolation Sound, Lund, Savary Island, Toba Inlet, Cortes Island, and the Discovery Islands.
We have two convenient waterfront locations in Lund and Okeover Inlet. No need to transport the kayaks to the launch site!
Planning for your Desolation Sound Sea Kayak Vacation: Please read before calling or emailing! You will likely find all your questions answered below. Just scan through the Topics List and click the topic for detailed information.
Interactive Google Map of our location
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The Desolation Sound Sea Kayak Company - est. 1995!
- Kayak Rental Rates
- Online Reservations and Checking Availability
- Cancellation Policy and Weather Considerations
- Camping Equipment Rental Rates
- Types of Kayaks
- What is Included with a Kayak Rental
- Kayak Damages
- Tides and Currents
- Are you Experienced?
- Youth and School Groups
- How to Find Us
- Transportation to Our Site
- Transporting Kayaks
- Kayaking Routes in the Desolation Sound Area
- Distances from Okeover and Lund (and Paddling Speeds)
- Kayak Camping
- Car Camping (Before and After the Trip)
- Parking at the Launch Sites
- Weather Information
- Food - What to Bring
- Gear - What to Pack
- Fresh Water
- Personal Kayaks (non-renters)
- Rental Agreement & Waiver Form
- Desolation Sound Maps
- Desolation Sound Books
- Bears and Wildlife
- Red-tide & Harvesting
- Cell Service
- Quoted Prices
1. Kayak Rental Rates
- We highly recommend reserving your kayaks well in advance to ensure availability and selection.
- It is the renters responsibility to read our Cancellation Policy prior to reserving kayaks.
Fiberglass Kayak Rentals Plastic Kayak Rentals
How to reserve
- Use our online reservation system here.
- Call our office at 604-483-2160
- If staff are busy or you are calling outside of office hours, leave a message and we will call you back as soon as possible.
- On-site payment options include: Cash, Visa, Mastercard and Debit. Please note for Lund rentals only cash and debit is available.
- Daily Rental rates are based on a calendar day.
- To qualify for reduced daily rates when renting for more than one day, rental must be for consecutive days at the same location.
- Taxes are not included in the above rates.
- Black out periods apply for single day rentals in Peak season, for information read our rental policies page.
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CLICK HERE to be taken to our online reservation system, where you can book rental kayaks and check availability for any dates you are interested in renting.
1. Scroll down and select your category on the left hand drop down menu.
2. Select dates on calendar to search for availability - if unavailable, search surrounding dates by clicking 'Availability' on each item.
3. Click 'Book Now' to select quantity, review rates, and set up your reservation for each specific product.
- Upon completing the reservation form, you will receive a pre-confirmation email. Staff will review the booking and your invoice will arrive within 24 hours.
- At this point, you will have two options to confirm your reservation:
- Pay in full with a credit card by following a link on the invoice.
- Call our office and provide a credit card number in lieu of a deposit.
- Our cancellation policy will be in effect from this time.
3. Cancellation Policy and Weather Considerations
- PRSK's cancellation policy for kayak rentals:
- What if we want to cancel due to weather?
- Weather on the west coast of British Columbia can be unpredictable year round. While we do generally enjoy long, sunny summer days, even in July and August the rain can come quickly and settle in for a few days or a week at a time. This is part and parcel of living in a temperate rainforest! As such, rain by itself is not a valid reason to cancel your rental and circumvent our cancellation policy. We will not refund renters who wish to cancel due to rain.
- Strong winds are the predominate danger to safety when kayaking in Desolation Sound. While we are somewhat protected here by Vancouver Island and other landscape features, strong winds still do occur year round. Our policy for strong winds and cancellation is thus:
- If the marine weather forecast is calling for winds of 25 knots or above for the day of the rental, guests may elect to cancel their days rental without charge.
- This is based on the most up-to-date marine forecast issued by Environment Canada for the marine region 'Strait of Georgia - North of Nanaimo'. In practice this means the forecast issued no earlier than 4pm on the day before the rental, or any forecast after that time.
- If you are thinking "Wow, 20 knots is still a little beyond my comfort level", then we seriously suggest that you rethink your plans for a multi-day sea kayak rental without taking a prior lesson or gaining experience with smaller day excursions first. The weather on the coast can change rapidly and unexpectedly, and it is not uncommon for winds of 20 knots or more to pick up without any prior warning from Environment Canada or other weather agencies. PRSK runs introductory lessons, as well as guided day and multi-day tours for those guests that wish to enjoy Desolation Sound without these added stresses!
4. Camping Equipment Rental Rates
|Tent - 2/3 Person
|Z - Rest
|20L Dry Bags
- Taxes are not included in the above rates.
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5. Type of Kayaks
- We have a wide range of makes, brands and models of kayaks in our rental fleet. Some questions to ask before you call to book:
- Single or Double Kayaks?
- Single kayaks offer a great range of freedom for the paddler. They typically are from 16’ to 18’ in length and can be manoeuvred close to shore with ease. In a single kayak, you are in sole control of where you go and the speed in which you get there. However, for novice or inexperienced kayakers, single kayaks may seem far less stable than a double kayak, which is wider, longer and sturdier in the water.
- Double kayaks are typically around 20’ to 22’ in length and offer great stability for new or inexperienced kayakers. They are designed so that the person in the back operates the foot pedals that steer the kayak, while the person in the front takes the role of the ‘navigator’, alerting their partner of any obstacles in the water ahead. Communication is key in a double kayak, and the ‘freedom’ associated with a single kayak is somewhat mitigated. If both parties are in agreement a double kayak is a great way to get around, with a reduced workload. If however a conflict arises as to the direction or speed of the paddling, troubles can ensue. They don’t call double kayaks ‘divorce boats’ for nothing!
- While two single kayaks can conceivably carry more gear than one double, a double kayak has a very large centre hatch that can fit even the most bulky of items, such as saucepans or overly large sleeping bags.
- Plastic or Fibreglass?
- The main reason people will choose to paddle a plastic kayak over a fibreglass kayak - apart from the small difference in price - is the sturdiness of the plastic boats, which are less likely to be badly damaged on our rocky coastline. This is not to say that you can drag them up and down the beach without damage, but a plastic kayak can offer a paddler some peace of mind when it comes to launching and landing, and entering and exiting, the kayak.
- Performance wise, a fibreglass kayak is quite a bit lighter, quicker and more responsive in the water, more comfortable to paddle, and can generally carry more gear on longer trips (depending on the make and model). While more fragile than the plastic boats, with just a little care one can easily avoid the hull damage that is often associated with a fibreglass kayak. All in all, a fibreglass kayak is of better quality, and slightly higher price, than a plastic boat.
- We also have a small fleet of thermoform kayaks. Thermoform kayaks are plastic kayaks that are formed over a mild instead of inside one, like the typical polyethylene plastic designs. The result is a lighter kayak that strikes a middle ground in performance, speed and durability between the fibreglass and plastic models.
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6. What is Included with a Kayak Rental?
- Bilge pump
- Paddle float
- Spare paddle (or a few spares per group)
- Nylon Sprayskirt
- PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
- 55’ Throw Rope (for emergency purposes only)
- Parking at our Okeover location (Lund is pay parking)
- Launch fees at our Okeover location
- Not Included: flares, VHF radio, parking and launch fees for personal kayaks.
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- Off Peak dates (September 15 - May 15) receive 15% off.
- Groups of 8 or more receive 15% off (must be booked and paid under one reservation)
- Rentals of 10 days or more receive 15% off.
- Please note discounts cannot be combined.
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8. Kayak Damages
- We provide high quality kayaks and equipment for our clients, and as such any damage that arises from rental will be charged an appropriate fee.
- This is not meant to intimidate or to be a money making scheme! It is perfectly possible to enjoy a lengthy kayak trip without damaging the kayaks or equipment, and the vast majority of our renters have absolutely no trouble in doing so. This policy is merely intended to protect our property and to allow us to provide quality equipment to all our renters. A damaged kayak has to be removed from our fleet and repaired, which takes time and labour. In the busy season of July and August we may not have enough kayaks to supply demand should a kayak be taken out of commission for any length of time. Therefore, prevention of damage in a seasonal business like ours is critical.
- The most common kayak damage we encounter is the scraping damage of the ‘gel coat’ on the hulls of our fibreglass kayaks. This damage reduces the structural integrity of our kayaks and is commonly caused by dragging or dropping kayaks - or sitting in kayaks - on rocky beaches or coasts. Our staff will thoroughly direct you on the proper way to avoid this damage when entering, exiting, or moving the kayaks before you launch. With just a little care, gel coat damage is easily avoided!
- Upon returning from your trip your kayaks will be inspected for damages. An automatic $10 charge for gel coat damage applies.
- If you are nervous about your ability to avoid some damage to the fibreglass hulls, we highly recommend renting a much sturdier plastic kayak, or ask us for advice on proper launch/land techniques to avoid damaging kayaks while staying dry at the same time. While not quite capable of the same high performance as a fibreglass kayak, they are still of very high quality and far more resilient to bumps and scrapes. That said, we still expect you to try your best not to damage them on the rocky shore!
- Similar to damages, an automatic $10 charge applies per bag for those who leave garbage in kayaks upon returning them to our site. We are located in a remote area without garbage pickup and cannot possibly take or dispose of your garbage. You can dispose of your garbage (for a fee) in metal bins provided behind the Lund store. Besides, it isn’t better to reduce the amount of garbage you take – and therefore bring back?
- For essential information about how to avoid damaging kayaks, please follow this link.
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9. Tides and Currents
- Free Printable Tide Tables (link).
- Click the above link to take you to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans page for the local tides. Enter your dates, click the query button, and voila!, you have the tides in a printable version for your trip.
- You can also access this information on your smart phone while on the water. Desolation Sound has good cell phone access for most service providers (though it can be patchy in some areas, and it is always a good idea to have a hard copy of important information just in case).
- Note: the above link will auto-load for tides based in Lund, BC – which is fine for most areas around Desolation Sound. If you plan to go further, for example into the Discovery Islands, you may need to enter a different tide site.
- Understanding Currents:
- Tides are not currents, but they are related!
- Currents (horizontal movement) in the Desolation Sound area are not exceptionally strong – and you will therefore not find any currents listed in the official Current Tables.
- The strongest area of active currents in the Desolation area occurs in Malaspina Inlet. Currents here can reach up to 3 knots at their maximum flow. While this is not particularly dangerous, if you are not a strong paddler it may be wise to plan your trip to avoid these times.
- As water floods in or ebbs out of Malaspina Inlet, in certain areas as it passes over rocks, or around corners or islands, ‘eddies' are formed. These are areas in the inlet where the water actually flows in the reverse direction of the main current, and can be very useful for a kayaker should they be able to read the water and use them to their advantage to pass through the area against the main flow. Generally, these eddies occur in the lee side of islands in the inlet or in shallow bays and coves along the shoreline. By ‘hopping’ from eddy to eddy a kayaker can pass through stretches of moderate currents with far less resistance.
- Another general rule to remember is that currents tend to be stronger in the middle of an inlet than along the shoreline. However this is not always the case, as currents are also quicker wherever the flow of water is restricted, and can whip around corners or islands or on top of reefs and rocks at fast speeds.
- Understanding Tides
- Tides (vertical movement) rise and fall – but are not potentially dangerous like currents. However, it is useful to know when the tides will be high or low for launching / landing purposes.
- Desolation Sound sits at the confluence of tides that flow around both sides of Vancouver island. If you are entering Desolation Sound from the south (i.e. from Okeover or Lund), the main flow of water floods north from the Straight of Georgia into Desolation Sound and then into Malaspina / Okeover Inlet. If you are entering Desolation Sound from Lund, a flood tide will aid you, while if you are entering from Okeover, the ebb will be your friend. Keep in mind that in some areas the water can flow in counter-intuitive directions. Water flowing over reefs, rocks, islands, etc, can cause eddies and other irregularities that can cause it to move in unexpected directions!
- Note: As you paddle into the waters north of Desolation Sound, the tidal flow switches, as water floods around the northern tip of Vancouver Islands into Desolation Sound from the north, and ebbs in the reverse direction.
- Please note: This is not intended to be a lesson on tides and currents! It is merely intended to highlight some of the factors to consider when paddling in this or any area. For more detailed instruction and information you can always ask about our practical lessons for both beginners and intermediate paddlers, or inquire about our fabulous guided kayak tours with fully-certified guides.
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10. Are You Experienced?
- For essential information about rescues and experience needed to rent with us, please follow this link.
- These are some questions you should ask yourself before you call to rent a kayak:
- Have you had a formal lesson by a qualified instructor?
- Do you know your limitations?
- Do you know both self and assisted rescues?
- Have you practiced both self and assisted rescues?
- Do you know navigational techniques?
- Do you know the dangers and power of the ocean - its tides, currents, rips, effects of weather, etc - as opposed to lakes or rivers?
- Our goal is not to turn you off sea kayaking. Our goal is to ensure a safe trip that allows you to thoroughly enjoy the delights of sea kayaking.
- If you do not have experience, or have not taken a lesson, feel free to give us a call to discuss whether or not it is wise to rent a kayak. We are glad to work with all renters (experienced or inexperienced) to ensure a safe, enjoyable sea kayaking experience.
- Lessons are great fun and not only provide critical safety information but also instruction on correct (energy saving) paddling technique. The information learnt will expand your kayaking knowledge and enjoyment 100 fold! Many renters take a lesson with one of our qualified instructors prior to their trips. Please go to our lessons page for more information.
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11. Youth and School Groups
- Youth and School Groups can present additional, unique challenges for PRSK with regards to risk management and due diligence.
- Youth and School Groups wishing to rent kayaks from PRSK are required to read this linked information about our policies and requirements for trip leaders and are encouraged to contact us directly before making a booking so we can discuss any concerns we may have and ensure a fun, and above all safe, experience for all participants.
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12. How to Find Us
Interactive Google Map of our location
- We have two convenient waterfront locations: Lund and Okeover Inlet. Both locations are approximately 30 minutes drive north of Powell River.
- Vancouver to Powell River
- From the Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries ferry terminal in West Vancouver catch the ferry to Langdale (Gibsons) on the Lower Sunshine Coast. Continue north through Sechelt past the scenic hamlets of Pender Harbour and Madeira Park for about 90 minutes until you reach the BC Ferries terminal in Earl’s Cove, where you board a second ferry to Saltery Bay on the Upper Sunshine Coast. From here it is a 30 minute drive to Powell River.
- Vancouver Island to Powell River
- From the Little River BC Ferries terminal in Comox catch the ferry to Westview terminal in Powell River.
- Powell River to our locations in Lund or Okeover Inlet.
- Follow the highway north from Powell River through the village of Sliammon for about 25 minutes. For our Okeover location, turn off the highway at Malaspina Road and then turn left on Crowther Road (a gravel road) just past the Laughing Oyster Restaurant and follow the road for 3 kilometres. Our site is on the right.
- For Lund, continue past the Malaspina Road turnoff for another 3 kilometres until you reach the terminus of Highway 101 in the village of Lund. Our location is in the back of the Lund Hotel, on the right hand side as you descend the hill into town.
- How to Find Us - Maps
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13. Transportation to Our Site
- We do not have a shuttle service from Powell River to our locations in Lund or Okeover.
- For those without vehicles, you have a few options for getting to us:
- Powell River Taxi service can pick you up from your accommodation (though prices can be high, as they charge both for the trip out with you and the trip back to town alone).
- Bus services exist but are very irregular (currently only 2 services a week to Lund from Powell River).
- Hitchhiking is common in this area, and most people get rides quickly and efficiently. Keep in mind hitchhiking is certainly not for everyone, and should be used only at your discretion.
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14. Transporting Kayaks
- There is no need to transport kayaks from our shop to the water. We have waterfront locations in Lund and Okeover, so you can show up and launch with the minimum of hassle. From both these locations it is a relatively relaxed days paddle or less into Desolation Sound.
- If you need to transport kayaks to a different location on land, you have 2 options:
- You transport on your vehicle:
- Kayak damage prevention is essential.
- You will need padding/foam to protect the kayak(s), plenty of rope and preferably a roof rack. We do not provide these and kayaks will not be allowed to leave our site without the above.
- We transport on our vehicle
- Please email us for a quote.
- Note that kayak transportation is not inexpensive due to the price of fuel and staff time.
- If you wish to transport kayaks on water (i.e. into Desolation Sound):
- We do not have a boat that can transport kayaks into Desolation Sound and other areas.
- There are no regular operators of such a service in this area.
- From time to time, there are people and boats around that will provide this service, and we can provide you with contact numbers for these people.
- We are not able to arrange third party transport for you.
- Transporting kayaks on a motor vessel is generally cost prohibitive due to high costs of fuel and the fact that large boats are required to handle the substantial size and weight of kayaks, people and gear.
- As the renter, you are liable for any damage that occurs to kayaks or gear during the transportation.
- We recommend paddling to your destination. Enjoy the journey – and don’t miss out on all the great stuff in-between!
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15. Kayak Routes in the Desolation Sound Area
- Part of organizing a self-guided kayaking trip is planning your route. If you are not familiar with route planning and related topics such as seamanship, navigation and chart work, we highly recommend taking a suitable kayaking lesson.
- A great option for those who are uncomfortable with route planning is to join a guided tour. Not only are all aspects of route and trip planning taken care-of, paddling with a professional guide can be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about sea kayaking and route planning techniques. The food is pretty good too!
- The following are a few considerations when planning your route:
- You can’t plan without a marine chart or a good map. Order the Desolation Sound & Discovery Islands Map HERE – or you can get a marine chart HERE.
- Buy the book on paddling Desolation Sound for popular routes and expectations. Order Here.
- Print the free Tide information for Lund/Desolation Sound from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Here’s the link.
- What are your expectations? Do you want to simply paddle to an island and relax for a few days? Or, are you looking to put on the miles and try and see it all (Desolation Sound - and its surrounding waters - is very big).
- What is your paddling speed? The average speed for a strong paddler is said to be 3 knots. Many casual kayakers are slower. It is important to take into account the realistic abilities and speeds of your entire group when planning.
- How far and for how long do you plan to paddle each day? Knowing your speed and roughly how far you want to paddle each day will narrow down your route choices.
- Be flexible! Factors such as wind, current or weak paddlers in your group will cause plans to change.
- Know your options. If you are not sure you can make a certain destination, have a few options for camping on route.
- Ultimately, if you need the rental company to plan your entire trip, you should probably consider a guided tour or a lesson beforehand. We are happy to provide background information and local knowledge, but we simply do not have the time to help clients plan their entire trip at the launch site!
- Maps provided with rentals are basic!
- Laminated maps are available with rentals.
- Maps are specific for day paddling and multi-day paddling
- Day maps show route suggestions and areas to get out of the kayaks (eg: lunch stops).
- Multi-day maps show some campsites (not all), key fresh water sites and a few hiking trails. This map does not go beyond Desolation Sound and is not intended for proper navigation. Although many paddlers have only used our map on their Desolation Sound trips, for those looking to navigate using a compass, or to simply have a better perspective of the entire area, you must purchase the official nautical chart. Coast and Kayak’s Paddling Map for Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands is also quite useful. Get it here.
- Finally, here are a few specific thoughts and recommendations:
- Decide where will you launch from: Lund or Okeover Inlet?
- Powell River Sea Kayak’s Lund location is behind the Lund hotel.
- Savary Island is roughly a 1.5 hour paddle from the launch site to Mace Point on the eastern side. If going to Savary, we recommend crossing from Hertado Pt. to Mace Pt. as this is the shortest distance. Watch the winds! Paddling to Savary means crossing open waters that are exposed to the wind and waves from the Straight of Georgia.
- The Copeland Islands Marine Park is roughly a 1.5 hour paddle to the first island. We recommend following the shoreline north of Lund until you are right across from the first island. This will minimize time spent crossing Thulin Passage, which can be busy with large motor vessels during summertime.
- Both Savary Island and the Copeland Islands can be visited on day trips, as well as provide camping for overnight stays. Camping on Savary is on the beach (below the high tide line) while the Copeland Islands have 2 designated areas for camping with pit toilets, tent platforms and basic picnic areas.
- For those wishing to go on extended trips, Lund is a good starting point for excursions into Desolation Sound.
- Powell River Sea Kayak’s location in Okeover Inlet is in Penrose Bay on Crowther Road.
- Paddlers launching from Okeover Inlet and heading into Desolation Sound must paddle through Malaspina Inlet. There is no access to Desolation Sound through Portage Cove at the head of Lancelot Inlet. This is Private Property and strictly enforced by the owner.
- From the launchsite, Desolation Sound is approximately 6 nautical miles. Common camping areas in Desolation Sound (eg: Curme Islands) are roughly 10 nm from our Okeover launchsite.
- There are camping areas in Malaspina Inlet for those who cannot make it to the common Desolation Sound campsites. The first area for camping (Grace Harbour) is roughly 1.5-2 hours from the launch site.
- Destinations beyond Desolation Sound include Cortes Island, Redonda Islands, Toba Inlet and the Discovery Islands. There are special considerations that need to be taken into account for areas beyond Desolation Sound and kayakers must be well experienced and knowledgeable with trip planning, seamanship and kayaking skills.
- Don’t be in a rush to get to a specific location. The joy is often in the journey – and there are some wonderful things to experience between the launch site and wherever you plan to go. If conditions change, making it difficult to get to your planned destination, don’t sweat it! Play it safe, find an alternate site, set-up camp and enjoy!
- If people are expecting you at a specific location and time and you can’t make it (due to wind, safety, injury, etc), let them know you are safe! This includes when returning on your last day. Call on your cell phone, flag down a motor vessel to relay a message via VHF and Coast Guard or whatever it takes to get your message through! Failure to do this will not only result in causing worry but will require dispatching Coast Guard or other valuable rescue services.
- Stay close to shore while paddling. Not only is this safer, but it is far more interesting than paddling in deep, open water.
- If you make a crossing, be visible to on-coming boaters and stay in a tight formation. Choosing to cross at the shortest distance between two points helps to minimize risks posed by weather, inexperience and oncoming vessels.
- Last but not least: do your homework - don’t expect the rental company to do it for you! Buy the chart or map for the area. Read the guide book(s), scale the distances, know your escape routes and your options. Be flexible. Plan your route based on your goals and consider the experience, skill and fitness of your group. Consider the weather and print the tides before you come (they’re free!). Our staff are experienced and knowledgable about the area and eager to pass it on, but they are busy. When you do need to ask questions of us, please be prepared with specific questions, having done some previous research. That way you can help us to help you have a safe and enjoyable experience!
- It is possible for renters to ‘do the loop’ and launch from Okeover and return to Lund or vice versa. However, you do need to inform us of these plans in advance. A $20 delivery fee applies per kayak for this service. Please make sure you know the exact location of the other location before you launch!
- This service is for kayaks only. If you have two vehicles, we suggest dropping one off on the other side before you set out. If you have one vehicle, it’s possible to hitch hike or walk/run the 8 kilometres between locations.
- For insurance purposes, we cannot shuttle people back and forth between our two locations. Also, due to the busy nature of this seasonal operation, the kayaks may not be picked up until a day or two later.
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16. Distances from Okeover and Lund (and Paddling Speeds)
- The following distances are provided in status miles (0.85 nautical miles)
- From Penrose Bay (PRSK launch site in Okeover Inlet)
- Zephine Head: 6 miles
- Curme Islands: 9.5 miles
- Cabana Desolation on Kinghorn Island: 8 miles
- Lund: 12.5 miles
- Theodosia Inlet: 4.5 miles
- Grace Harbour (campsite): 3.5 miles
- Teakerne Arm (waterfall): 13 miles
- From Lund
- First Copeland Island: 2 miles
- Top of Copelands: 3.5 miles
- Sarah Point: 5.5 miles
- South Savary: 1.75 miles
- North Savary (Indian Pt): 4.25 miles
- Mittlenatch: 9.5 miles
- An average kayak speed for a single kayak is 1.5-3 miles an hour, while for a double is 1-4 miles an hour
- Factors that affect paddling speed:wind, current, experience.
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17. Kayak Camping
- The first recommendation is to buy the map! Wildcoast's Paddling Map for Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands is a useful tool – and reasonably priced. It not only shows camping throughout the Desolation Sound and Discovery Islands area, but it shows areas of interest, hiking and freshwater. Order Here.
- For detailed locations and descriptions of the new designated campsites in Desolation Sound Marine Park and the Copeland Islands Marine Park, print off this BC Parks map here.
- The second recommendation is to buy the book: ‘Sea Kayak Desolation Sound and the Sunshine Coast’. Order Here.
- Map provided with rentals.
- We provide a basic laminated map with our rentals. It shows some camping – but not everything. It also shows key sites for freshwater - which must always be filtered/treated - and some hiking trails. For some, it does the job. For others, it is a little sparse and we recommend purchasing the chart or map mentioned above.
- As of 2013, camping within Desolation Sound Marine Park, Copeland Islands Marine Park and Malaspina Provincial Park has moved to a designated camping system. Users of these provincial parks are requested to camp only in certain sites that have been equipped with tent pads, pit toilets and basic picnic facilities. There is also a user fee for camping in these areas. For information and a map of these designated sites within the Desolation Sound area, click here.
- These sites cannot be reserved ahead of time and are on a first come, first serve basis. What happens if you arrive at your desired site and they are already full?
- Firstly, you may be able to find some space (especially if you are a small group) at the desired site. Just because there are no tent pads left, doesn't mean you can't find room! Feather Cove and Tenedos Bay especially have ample flat space beyond the tent pads that are often used by campers when the pads are all full.
- Secondly, in extreme circumstances, you may have to move to a separate area, beyond the designated sites themselves. While it is desirable that everyone who is camping in the park does so in designated campsites, safety is obviously of upmost priority. If the day is getting late or the conditions are unfavourable and the only other option is to paddle in the dark or out in winds beyond your ability as a kayaker, camping in a nearby, unofficial area will always be preferable to putting your safety at risk. In such circumstances, be respectful of the land (no fires or cutting of foliage) and plan to move on the next day at the earliest convenience.
- Camping outside the marine and provincial parks (i.e. on Crown Land) remains available and spread throughout the Desolation Sound area.
- There are some areas - both within and outside the marine parks - that are not open for public use. These include private land, shellfish leases, tour companies’ tenured sites, and areas that have been marked for environmental restoration. These tenured sites have been paid for and are used by various organizations to grow tourism in the Desolation area and the use of these sites or any structures thereon is prohibited. Most of these are clearly marked on maps or charts of the area, and some will have signage to indicate its classification as such. Some notable examples include.
- The entirety of Mink Island, near the Curme Islands, which is privately owned.
- Portage Cove at the head of Lancelot Inlet, which is privately owned and strictly enforced.
- Various small shellfish leases near the mouth of Malaspina Inlet.
- Previously popular campsites on the Copeland Islands which are currently undergoing environmental restoration. Two large sites have been developed for camping and day use at the top of the Copeland Islands to meet demand.
- While there are many campsites available in the greater Desolation Sound area, some sites are more suited for large groups than others:
- Curme Islands (Note: very popular in summer months) - 23 tent pads spread over 3 islands. Outhouses exist on the west and south islands (you can walk from the east island to the west island on a low tide).
- Bold Head - 9 tent pads but difficult landing conditions due to steep granite bluffs. Often used as overflow site when nearby Curme Islands are full. One outhouse.
- Tenedos Bay - 3 tent pads and ample flat areas for camping with an outhouse, fire pit and trail to nearby Unwin Lake.
- Hare Point - 9 tent pads and an outhouse located near the mouth of Malaspina Inlet. Great for groups that want to ease into a trip to Desolation Sound without paddling too strenuously on the first day!
- Martin Islands - Actually one island (maps and charts indicate that there is two). Large site capable of accommodating multiple groups at the point where the ‘islands’ are indicated to split. Access from both sides. No tent pads or outhouse.
- Read the “Kayaking Routes in the Desolation Sound Area” bullet point above before you set out. How far can you (or your group) paddle in a day? How far do you (or your group) want to paddle in a day? Are you all on the same page concerning trip expectations? Plan accordingly.
- Leave no trace! Desolation Sound is an extremely fragile costal marine environment that gets a lot of traffic in summer months. There is no garbage collection available in this remote area. If you pack it in, make sure you pack it out! This includes food scraps and waste to deter wildlife from associating campsites with an easy meal.
- Fires are not permitted in the marine or provincial parks in Desolation Sound unless there is a designated fire ring. At this point the only such rings are at Tenedos Bay and Roscoe Bay. Firewood is not provided and it is an offence to remove wood from the park for a fire. If camping on Crown Land, small fires are only permitted during periods of no fire bans.
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18. Car Camping (Before and After the Trip)
- For those who wish to camp near our launch sites in Lund or Okeover prior to or following a trip to Desolation Sound there are a number of options:
- Okeover Arm Provincial Park - 14 vehicle / tent sites a mere 2 kilometres up Crowther road from our Okeover location with fire rings, outhouses and picnic areas.
- Dinner Rock Campground and Picnic area - A pay site located just off the highway south of the turnoff to Okeover Inlet managed by the Sliammon First Nation. Beautiful ocean-front sites with views of Savary and Vancouver Islands. Outhouses and picnic areas, but no power.
- SunLund-By-The-Sea - Locally owned private campground with powered sites, fire rings and picnic tables at each site, located in Lund. Wifi, showers, washrooms and laundry service is available.
- Willingdon Beach Campsite - Private, oceanfront campsite located in the heart of Powell River, 30 minutes south of Lund. Powered and unpowered sites, showers, washrooms, laundry services, picnic areas, fire pits, Wifi and more!
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19. Parking at the Launch Sites
- Renters launching from our private Okeover launch site may park for free in the designated parking areas on the property.
- If one or more people in your group are launching with their own kayaks and arrived in the same car as renters, parking is free and a $4 launch and land fee applies per personal kayak.
- If those with personal kayaks wish to launch from our site and arrive in their own vehicle, a parking charge of $5 per vehicle per day applies as well as the launch fees.
- Renters from our Lund location will need to pay for parking at Dave’s Parking, across the street from the Lund Hotel. Fees are $6 a day per vehicle.
- There is an option to park up on the highway for free, but this is very busy in the summer months and there is no security against theft or damages.
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20. Weather Information
- Here is some basic information about the weather is the Desolation area:
- The wind is not necessarily calm in the morning and strong in the afternoon – unless you are paddling the Coast Mountain inlets. For the Desolation Sound area, winds are based on the pressure gradient. That is, a change in air pressure signals wind – and a general change in weather. A few key points:
- Low pressure means:
- The winds will come from the SE
- This usually means rain is current or forthcoming
- SE winds can funnel up Okeover Inlet and into Penrose Bay and Desolation Sound
- High Pressure means:
- The winds come from the NW
- This usually means sunny skies
- NW winds will travel down Malaspina Inlet into Okeover
- The cool, wet winters of the BC coast generally give way to clear, dry summers. However, that doesn’t mean we are immune to rain at this time!
- To maximize the potential for clear, sunny weather on your kayak trip, the months of July, August and September are generally the driest of the year. However, these months also bring the most crowds, particularly during July and August and centring on long weekends!
- Some of the best trips are the wettest trips, but good gear is essential. However, perhaps the most essential item is simply a great attitude. It can make a wet trip wonderful – and – it can make a sunny trip miserable.
- Like everywhere on the coast the weather in Desolation Sound can change rapidly and with little warning. Marine weather statements and forecasts are updated 4 times every day and broadcast continuously. The Desolation Sound area is under the geographic category ‘Strait of Georgia, North of Nanaimo’. It is essential that you have some way of checking the updated marine weather forecasts every day, either by:
- Carrying a VHF radio and listening to channel 8.
- Checking the updates online using a smartphone here.
- Generally, a 15 knot wind is when you begin to see consistent white-capped wind waves, and is beyond the levels of novice kayakers, especially when making long, open crossings.
- Choosing a route that avoids long crossings and makes use of the leeward sides of islands, shorelines and headlines can mitigate some of the risk of paddling in moderate winds. However, care should always be taken and it is crucial to understand that wind can and does change rapidly - just because the wind is nominal when you set out, doesn't mean it will remain so for the duration of your paddle, or even just the length of your crossing. Listening to and understanding weather forecasts is essential when planning and running a trip, before and during.
- For the updated 7 day forecast for the Desolation Sound area, click here.
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21. Food - What to Bring
- If the thought of planning, packing and cooking food for you and your friends and family on a wilderness-based kayak trip is overwhelming, you might want to check out our fantastic, fully-inclusive guided tours before you book your rental kayaks. We take care of everything and let you soak in the atmosphere of Desolation Sound without undue stress!
- Our kayaks are large, touring kayaks that have plenty of hatch room to transport food and cooking equipment for a week or more. You don’t need to spend the week eating ramen noodles or reheated mac and cheese - if care is taken to avoid direct exposure to sunlight, coolers keep perishable items fresh and cool in the hulls of the kayaks for up to a week or more. Kayaking is not like backpacking; the large storage capacities of the kayaks enable you to put together surprisingly creative meals if you are so inclined!
- That said, you may need to be somewhat selective in what you bring. A good meal plan is essential to ensure you aren’t bringing along too much - or too little - food.
- There are a number of large grocery stores in Powell River (30 minutes south of our launch sites) that can provide you with everything you will possibly need for a week or more on the water. Some of these are:
- Save On Foods - 7100 Alberni St, Powell River
- Safeway - 7040 Barnet Street, Powell River
- Quality Foods - 4871 Joyce Ave, Powell River
- Mitchell Brothers - 5687 Manson Ave, Powell River
- Ecossentials - 6812 Alberni Street, Powell River
- There is nothing to purchase at our launch site in Okeover Inlet. If you have forgotten something or need any last minute items there are two options north of Powell River that provide basic essential grocery items:
- The Lund Store - In the front of the Lund Hotel
- Tla’amin Convenience Store - 5245 Lund Highway, Sliammon
- A general rule when on overnight kayaking trips is to plan to bring enough food for the duration of your trip, and then one or two days worth of extra food (bulk items such as rice or quinoa is good, as these do not spoil quickly) in case of emergency or delay in returning due to weather.
- While the hulls of the kayaks are quite cool and can keep food fresh for a surprising length of time, it is always best to plan to use any quickly perishable items early in the trip. Chicken, fish, leafy green vegetables, fresh herbs, etc, are prone to spoiling and should be consumed early to avoid this.
- In addition to the food, don’t neglect to plan to bring any utensils you might need, such as the stove, pots and pans, plates and bowls, cups and cutlery!
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22. Gear - What to Pack
- Click here to see the recommended packing list determined by the Sea Kayak Guide’s Alliance of British Columbia. While this list is exhaustive and not everything contained on it is required for a rental trip, it is a great resource to check your gear against and make sure you don’t leave anything important at home!
- For more packing tips, including how and where to pack a kayak, please read our Essential Preparations page.
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23. Fresh Water
- Unless you’re going for longer than a week, we highly recommend bringing all your water with you. There are many types of containers on the market these days, although flexible containers are best as they fit better into the kayak and can breakdown for storage once empty.
- How much water is enough? 3 Litres per person per day is the typical, recommended amount. However, this should be adjusted depending on personal needs as well as type of food being cooked (ie: pasta needs more water to boil) and air temperature (ie: will you need to drink a lot due to perspiration).
- Where can we fill-up?
- In Lund, we have access to an outdoor tap. This water comes from Lund’s community water system.
- In Okeover, our private sight has a drilled well. Although we have our water tested each year, this is untreated water. We drink it – and renters are welcome to as well.
- In Desolation Sound, there are limited options for filling your water containers, and if you are planning on spending an extended amount of time out there we highly recommend you plan you trip accordingly!
- Fresh water can be obtained at Grace Harbour, Tenedos Bay, Roscoe Bay, Teakerne Arm, and from the stores at Refuge Cove and Squirrel Cove.
- All water obtained from lakes or streams should be treated before consuming!
- The laminated maps that are included with your rental gives the approximate location of the major year-round streams and lakes. Some seasonal streams do exist in some areas of Desolation Sound, but these often dry up quickly in the summer months and should not be counted on.
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24. Personal Kayaks (Non-Renters)
- Due to the limited parking available at our Okeover location and our increasingly busy seasons, we are unable to accommodate non-renters with personal kayaks launching from our private location.
- The Okeover Government Wharf is located 5 minutes down the road from our location (just beyond the Laughing Oyster Restaurant on Malaspina Road) and is a great place to launch personal kayaks for accessing Desolation Sound, including paid parking.
- For those with personal kayaks in a group that includes people renting kayaks from Powell River Sea Kayak:
- A $4 site use and launch fee applies per person
- A $5 per day vehicle fee applies for those who wish to park at our location
- If you are launching with renters and you arrived in the same vehicle, only the launch fee applies
- If you are launching with renters and came in your own vehicle, both launch and parking fees apply
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25. Rental Agreement and Waiver Form
- Before launching from our site, each member of your rental party will need to fill out a Rental Agreement and Waiver Form. This includes:
- A standard waiver of liability
- A ‘float plan’ containing information about your level of experience, your intended route and campsites, your emergency contact information and some personal information that we can access when in contact with emergency or rescue services should an accident occur or you fail to return at your stated time.
- A damage deposit (credit card information) to only be used in case of negligence on your part resulting in damaged kayaks or equipment.
- Here is a link to our Rental Agreement and Liability form for your perusal before arriving. As mentioned above, a float plan and damage deposit section are also part of the form you will need to sign before renting kayaks and equipment (these parts are not shown in the Rental Agreement and Liability link).
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26. Desolation Sound Maps
- We provide a laminated map with all rentals that indicate some of the better camping spots as well as the location of fresh water. For most people, this is adequate for their needs. The map does not extend beyond Desolation Sound to areas such as Toba Inlet, Pryce Channel or the Discovery Islands.
- For those that wish to paddle into these remoter regions, or who simply want a more detailed map of the area with more information:
- Wildcoast's Paddling Map for Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands is a useful tool – and reasonably priced. It not only shows camping throughout the Desolation Sound and Discovery Islands area, but it shows areas of interest, hiking and freshwater. Order Here.
- Marine charts are more technical and go into further detail still, but can be confusing to read for the uninitiated. If you do have experience reading charts however you can order the Desolation Sound chart here. And if you are going into remote areas, you should have chart reading knowledge/experience!
- For those going further north, into Toba Inlet and the Discovery Islands, the marine charts for these areas are found here and here.
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27. Desolation Sound Books
- For those who wish to do some detailed research on Desolation Sound before arriving, or those who are looking for some quality reading material for the trip itself, we have some great book recommendations:
- ‘Adventures in Solitude: What not to wear to a nude potluck and other stories of Desolation Sound’ by CBC host and author Grant Lawrence. A hilarious and eye-opening read about the history and culture of Desolation Sound - from the early pioneers to Vietnam draft dodgers to new-age back-to-the-landers. Order Here.
- ‘Desolation Sound: A History’, by Heather Harbord. Detailed and impeccably researched historical overview of every corner of Desolation Sound, with particular focus on the pioneering European men and women (and their families) and the struggles they faced. Order Here.
- ‘The Curve of Time’, by M. Wylie Blanchett. Classic sailing memoir of a determined woman and her young family and their yearly exploration of the British Columbia coast - much of it set in and around the waters of Desolation Sound, including some of the most beautiful writing about the area you’ll ever encounter. Order Here.
- ‘Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific North West’, by Rick M. Harbo. A colourful, handheld compendium of some of the fascinating marine wildlife found in the waters of Desolation Sound. A fantastic accompaniment to anyone planning on snorkelling or exploring tidal pools. A great educational tool for kids as well! Order Here.
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28. Bears and Wildlife
- It is important to always remember that when kayaking in Desolation Sound - or anywhere along the British Columbia coast - you are sharing the land with wild animals such as bears, wolves, cougars, deer, raccoons and other animals. Care must be taken to minimise any potential risks associated with these animals, from food preparation and storage to camping and hiking practices.
- Always store your food properly to avoid attracting wild animals to your camp. Set up a bear-bag and hang your food far from ground level or keep your food securely locked in the hatches of your kayaks whenever you are not in camp or have retired to your tent. Set up your tents away from the kitchen area, and don’t wear the same clothes you cooked in to bed to avoid any lingering smells on your clothing.
- If you plan to do any hiking or inland exploring on your trip, bear spray and bear bangers are good devices that can deter any wild animals that take too keen an interest in you or your camp. Please note that it is important you read the instructions and are confident using such devices to minimize the chances of any negative wildlife interaction! Misaimed bear spray can temporarily blind a human (and sting like crazy), while a mistimed banger can startle or enrage an animal to attack. Bear spray and bangers should only be used as a last resort.
- When hiking, make plenty of noise (laugh, sing, talk loudly) to alert any nearby wildlife of your presence. It is invariably when wildlife is startled by sudden encroaches on their personal space - or from habituation to human presence - that incidents occur.
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- There are numerous opportunities to hike for short or long periods in the Desolation Sound area.
- The most accessible trail is the Sunshine Coast Trail, which touches the coast at Feather Cove and Cochrane Bay and can lead to expansive lookouts or hidden lakes. Other trails can be found at Unwin Lake in Tenedos Bay, Black Lake in Roscoe Bay and Cassel Lake in the Teakerne Arm.
- Coast and Kayak’s Desolation Sound map includes many of the accessible trails in the Desolation Sound area and can be ordered here.
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30. Red-Tide and Harvesting
- Desolation Sound offers great opportunities to harvest fresh seafood, including oysters, clams, mussels and crab. However there are some things you need to be aware of before you go down and pick your appetizers off the beach.
- Red Tide - or Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning - is the result of an algal bloom that occurs usually in the warmer months, and affects the edibility of bivalve shellfish, including oysters, clams and mussels. The shellfish filter the microorganisms and accumulate the toxins at levels that can be fatal for human consumption. When concentrated in high numbers in the ocean this phenomenon can be visible as a red or dark cloud in coastal waters - however, just because it is not visible does not mean that it is safe to consume shellfish!
- The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in conjunction with the commercial shellfish industry, constantly updates the status of red tide along the coast, and this information can change rapidly. Just because there is no red tide when you leave on a trip, doesn’t mean there is no red tide on day five!
- If you are planning to harvest shellfish, it is crucial you check the updated report before you do so. You can do this on a smartphone at this website.
- Alternatively, the information is recorded at this phone number: 1-866-431-3474
- When harvesting shellfish, it is important to correctly identify the species you are harvesting and checking it off against the red tide report, as some species retain the toxins for longer than others, and many species look very similar to the untrained harvester!
- It is important that you have the appropriate fishing licence to be legally able to harvest seafood or fish in these waters. If you fail to own a licence - or do not have it have it on you if the Department of Fisheries comes calling - you are liable to receive large fines and even the confiscation of your kayaks! Information on where to buy a licence, fees and rules relating to limitations can be found here.
- Finally, there are certain areas that fishing or harvesting is off-limits or highly discouraged. This can be because the area falls under a private lease, is a designated exclusion zone, or due to health reasons arising from high density of pleasure craft in certain protected coves and bays. For detailed information about these areas, click here.
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- As of 2014, backcountry camping fees are in place for campgrounds in Desolation Sound Marine Park, Copeland Islands Marine Park, Malaspina Provincial Park and Roscoe Bay Provincial Park. Click here to register up to two weeks before your trip.
- Note: This is not a reservation, and does not guarantee you a spot when you arrive.
- You can also register upon arrival at the campsite using a smartphone (instructions are posted at all marine park campgrounds).
- These fees are only necessary for those campgrounds located within the above park boundaries. If you are camping outside these boundaries (i.e. on Crown Land) you do not have to pay any fees.
- If you are planning on fishing or harvesting seafood while in Desolation Sound, please not that you are required to possess the appropriate salt water fishing licences and abide by any relevant restrictions. Click here for information on how and where to obtain this. Severe penalties apply to anyone caught in breach of these restrictions.
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32. Cell Service
- While you are heading into a remote area, Desolation Sound has fairly good cell service throughout. Service can be patchy, however, in certain areas, and it is a good idea to have more than one line of communication with the outside world (i.e. cell phone, VHF radio, satellite phone, SPOT, etc).
- One area where you will not receive any cell service is at our launch site in Okeover Inlet.
- Cell service quickly cuts out if you are heading beyond Desolation towards Toba Inlet, especially in Waddington and Homfray Channels directly north of the Sound.
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33. Quoted Prices
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- Please see above for rental rates.
- As a policy, we do not provide official verbal quotes (over phone or in-person). For consistency and to avoid any miscommunication, official quotes are only provided by management via email correspondence.
- Official quotes are only provided for unusual circumstances (such as larger groups, longer rentals, discounts, etc).