One down, two to go: kayaking the day away off Vancouver Island
Q: I'm working on a combination sea kayak, SCUBA diving, and fly-fishing adventure on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. I've heard the Port Hardy and north tip waters offer much better diving conditions. Any thoughts or suggestions on which areas are best? Thanks,
Mike Mattison, Seattle, Washington
A: There are few dive spots in the world where 80-foot visibility is considered a so-so day. That's part of what makes divers willing to brave the just-above-freezing water temps of the Port Hardy area. The other reasons include octopi, rockfish, greenlings, wolf eels, kelp forests, and shipwrecks. The diving part of your adventure triathlon won't leave anyone disappointed.
When it's time for the fishing event, cross your fingers that the tidal conditions will be right to bring the Coho within ocean casting range. When riptides suck the salmon's food supply toward the surface, it creates a feeding frenzy for you and the bears.
So far as sea kayaking goes, you could circle all of Vancouver Island without finding a piece of coastline that couldn't be described as perfect for paddling. But the remote section that extends north from Port Hardy all the way around to Cape Scott Provincial Park is a notch above all the rest. This is where you're least likely to come across other travelers.
If fly-fishing is a higher priority than the other two sports, you might consider choosing another part of the island. One great option is the Clayoquot Sound (halfway down the west coast), which is known for its steady salmon supply. Nearby diving opportunities abound, though the underwater scene might be a bit murkier than what you'd find up north. And you can take a day trip down to the Broken Group Islands for some top-notch kayaking.