Deep Cove is one of my favourite little nooks in Vancouver. Located in North Vancouver, about a 30 minute drive from the downtown core, at the foot of Mount Seymour, is this small community. Well known by locals for its great outdoor activities, delicious food (more about that later), and beautiful views, Deep Cove is a great place to escape the city within the city.
For a friend’s birthday, we hit the waters of Deep Cove and the Indian arm, a branch of the Burrard Inlet which leads to the Port of Vancouver. I’ve kayaked plenty of times and when my friend asked if I would be interested in trying out a surf ski, I was eager to do something different.
Surf skis are lighter and thinner than its kayak counterpart. Instead of having the boat cover your legs, your legs are out in the open and your ankle gets strapped onto boat. Your foot sits on pedals which control which way your boat turns. The upper part is open which means you can potentially quite wet. Even more so if you have splashing contests with your kayaking buddies.
We rented our kayaks from Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak which is located right on the water in Deep Cove. The staff got us suited up in PFDs and got us into our rentals. For the first time in years it seems like, I was told what to do in case I capsize, and what to do with the ankle brace I was now sporting that attached me to the surf ski. They also showed us how to get water out of the surf ski – something I’ve never been too concerned about before. Knowing how much lighter the surf ski was and given the pretrip chat, I was definitely worried about the possibility of capsizing!
At first it was confusing using the rudder to figure out which way to turn. Especially when you have to back up in front of everyone to get out of the beach area.
As I got the hang of it (going the right direction of course), it was a lot easier. The surf ski glided smoothly in the water. It responded instantly to any pressure I put on the pedals making it much easier to navigate compared to a kayak. It was rocker though. If I turned my head a little too far or my weight wasn’t quite centred, the surf ski would tilt. I don’t know how much it would take to capsize it, but I definitely wasn’t about to find out! I tried to minimize movement of my body as much as possible so there was no risk of me taking a cold swim.
It was a gloriously beautiful day for a paddle in the water. The sun was out, it was warm, but not hot. The skies were clear and the water cool. Perfection. The Indian Arm is beautiful. The waters are calm, save for the boats that run up and down the inlet.
The staff who gave us our orientation had warned us of a strong northward wind and told us to head south first so that we’d have the wind to our back on the way home. We came out of the cove and turned south. We spotted a tiny island, which I later learned is called Boulder Island, and headed there.
All too soon, it was time to head back towards the cove. One way, the distance between Boulder Island and Deep Cove is about 2.5 km. Not bad for a morning paddle! Other than the occasional splash I was dry and didn’t take any unintentional dunks into the water. Success!
Would I use a surf ski again? Yes definitely! I have such poor upper arm strength and the lighter surf ski meant I could keep on going with relative ease. I was sore the next day, but definitely not as much as I would have been if I had a regular kayak.
After all that hard work propelling yourself around in the water the best way to reward yourself is with a delicious doughnut from Honey Doughnuts & Goodies. Of course I had to do it after all that effort!
Faced with choosing between the original honey doughnut, a chocolate doughnut and a maple doughnut, I opted for the classic. Why try to mess with something that is so good. This doughnut is like no other doughnut. It’s not airy or cake-like. It’s significantly denser. Slightly sweet from the honey, but oh so satisfying. Their sandwiches ain’t bad either if you’re looking for actual food. I picked up their corned beef sandwich which hit the spot.
Deep Cove is small and quaint, but when I’m there, I feel like I’m on vacation. Yes, it’s so close to Vancouver, but it’s a community all to its own. There are plenty of other outdoor activities and hikes in the area. Walking up Quarry Rock for a view of all of Deep Cove is a popular activity as well, and one I’ve yet to do. I’m already looking forward to the doughnut I’ll get at the end of that hike.
Do you like kayaking? Have you tried a surf ski?
Good to Know
Go early especially on a weekend. Our appointment was booked for 10:30 and we arrived in the area shortly after 10. We went around and around looking for parking and there was none to be found. We eventually found a 2 hour parking spot which isn’t ideal. My friend spent the whole time on the water worried about her car and whether or not she would get a ticket. We moved her care in the afternoon to an all day spot which was much better.
Keep your valuables in the car. There are no lockers in the area. You can leave car keys and wallets with the staff behind the desk, but if you don’t have to, you probably shouldn’t.
Rentals are really affordable. I rented the surf ski which was $30 for a 2 hour rental. A single kayak or canoe is $39, $50 for a double kayak and $30 for a paddle board all for 2 hours. You can also add extra hours or rent for a day or two. A rental includes the boat, paddle, PFD, whistle, spray pump and a 15 m heaving line.