Interested in Planning a Trip to Canada? The Best Places in Ontario to Sea Kayak

Monday, 20 August 2012

Ask ten people who live in Ontario where the best places are to go kayaking and you will probably get ten different answers. The opportunities for sea kayaking in Ontario are virtually endless and deciding where to go can be a bit daunting if you don’t already know the area. To help you get started, check out dealchecker. They can help you find the kayak or canoe holiday (as well as flights to Canada) that you are seeking.

Ontario borders four of the five Great Lakes which is one of the reasons it’s such a fantastic place for sea kayakers looking for adventure. Generally speaking, the two best lakes for sea kayaking are Lake Huron (in particular Georgian Bay) and Lake Superior. Both locations offer hundreds of miles of undeveloped shoreline and crystal clear water.

Georgian Bay, Lake Huron

Georgian Bay is one of the classic Ontario destinations for sea kayakers. It’s an area known as the 30,000 islands and a huge amount of the shoreline is still undeveloped giving you the wilderness experience you are looking for.

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The geography of Georgian Bay is very unique. During the last ice age that area of the Canadian Shield was scraped down by the retreating glaciers leaving behind campsites made of solid, smooth bedrock. This makes the area a perfect spot for kayak trips as you are not camping on sand or mud and the shoreline is free of weeds for swimming. Those are all good things in my book.

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As far as trip routes to paddle in Georgian Bay, you have lots of options. The jumping off point for most people is at the many marinas just outside of Parry Sound. You can leave from the marina in Snug Harbour, Dillon Cove or Point au Baril for example and from there either paddle north or south along the shoreline. If you are looking for less people, plan your trip to get out to the many off-shore islands along its length. There will be a lot less boat traffic and cottages out there.

Getting to Georgian Bay isn’t that difficult for international travelers as you can fly directly into Toronto and a hire a car from a car for the 2.5h drive north to Parry Sound. From there you can access several outfitters who offer everything from boat/camping gear rentals all the way up to fully guided trips. Talk to White Squall Paddling Centre, Black Feather or Learn to Kayak. Wild Women Expeditions is a unique business that runs woman only trips out of the Georgian Bay area so you should contact them if you are looking for that sort of thing.

Lake Superior

When it comes to sea kayak paddling locations in Ontario, the north shore of Lake Superior is the undisputed king and often voted as one of the most beautiful places to paddle in Canada.

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The one thing to keep in mind is that paddling along Lake Superior is not for the faint of heart. With cold water and big waves due to high winds, you need to plan a trip on Lake Superior like you were planning a trip on any ocean. You should have fair bit of experience kayaking and camping if you are planning your own expedition. That being said, there are lots of excellent locations that beginner can visit when accompanied with a proper guide to help out.

At the East end of the lake international travelers can fly into Thunder Bay and use that location as the start for adventure with many excellent trips along the north shore. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park or Slate Islands are both excellent places to go with a guide.

Another very nice place to paddle that is also logistically easy to get to is Lake Superior Provincial Park along west shore between Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie. Lake Superior Provincial Park offers a coastline that is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) long which is a very nice 5-7 day paddle. Just remember that the shoreline has several sections of large cliffs or inaccessible shoreline so make sure that you stay off the water when the wind is blowing as it can get very rough very quickly. June and July are the calmest months so plan your trip during that time.

There are several outfitters on Lake Superior who can help you with logistics including gear/boat hire, vehicle shuttles, or guided trips. Contact Naturally Superior Adventures, Superior Outfitters, Caribou Expeditions or Wildwaters for more information.

As you can see, Canada offers an unbelievable number of paddling opportunities and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia all offer amazing destinations as well. If you are interested in a canoeing holiday there are so many rivers in the interior of Canada that you can’t even count them all on one hand.

Top photo credit: DSCN0339 ep | Eric.Parker Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic / CC BY-NC 2.0
Bottom photo credit: Lake Superior Provincial Park | Andrea Schaffer / CC BY 2.0

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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