Have boat, will paddle: coastal cruising off Vancouver Island
Q: Four of us are planning to fish, canoe, and camp for two weeks in June. We're considering Canada but have been warned of the black flies. How can we avoid them? Thank you,
Patti Hansen, Delray Beach, Florida
A: Avoiding black flies could be easier than you thinkthe little buggers hate an ocean breeze more than vampires hate garlic. Camp in coastal areas, like Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and you shouldn't have a problem.
Here's the dream itinerary for a canoe-comfortable group that's up for an adventure (no beginners, please): Rent your craft in the little town of Tofino, on the island's west coast. Drive it down to the Broken Group Islands section of Pacific Rim. Spend your days paddling amid the 100 or so islands, angling for salmon, and hiking along the forested coast, and your evenings munching on the day's catch and rehearsing your tales of black bear and orca encounters to tell the folks back home.
If you're not quite ready to go it alone, Option B is to base yourself in Tofino or Ucluelet (on the south end of the park) and take outfitted trips from there. Osprey Charters (888-286-3466) runs fishing trips in Clayoquot Sound. The Tofino Sea Kayaking Company (www.tofino-kayaking.com) offers island-hopping day trips and custom tours. And Ucluelet-based Pristine Adventures (www.alberni.net/pristine, 250-726-4477) has canoe-based wildlife watching excursions on the island's creeks and lakes. Their four-hour Watershrew Creek paddle takes you down narrow waterways where you can up-close views of otters and possibly timber wolves. Their eight-hour trip to Kennedy Lake lets you visit the island's interior. Both return you to the coast before duskthe prime black-fly snacking hour.