Published: Apr 11 2019
Water is an undeniable part of the city of Vancouver, and boating is a huge culture here. From the east and south, an inland sea brings international sea traffic from the Pacific. From every direction, large and wild rivers toss salmon and adventurers within its white, tumbling waters. The temperate climate here makes it possible to boat and fish year-round, and because of this, the city marinas are full of powerboats and sailboats for rentals and charters. Best of all, there are so many different things to do while boating in British Columbia (BC).
Ok so this is the most obvious, but it has to be said that if you want to get out on the water in Vancouver, you have to rent a boat. If you don't have boating knowledge-don't worry. Captained boat and yacht charters are a popular choice in Vancouver and prices for these experiences start at $200/hour and are the perfect way to tour Vancouver by boat with a large group or if you're traveling with kids.
Fishing in Vancouver is one of the best ways to enjoy the water here. Whether you're an experienced angler or a beginner traveling with kids who want to learn to fish, you'll find the perfect experience while on vacation.
From river fish like salmon and trout to large deep-sea halibut to shellfish, the abundance and variety of opportunities in Vancouver feel boundless. There are chances to drop a line right downtown in some areas, as well as dozens of designated fishing resorts. Book a fishing charter for deep-sea fishing or rent a fishing boat on your own in Vancouver. Even if you do not catch a thing, the restaurants here feature local seafood proudly, so at least you know you will be able to eat like you caught just what you were looking for.
Want more information on fishing in Vancouver? Check out our complete fishing guide to the city.
Vancouver naturally draws in travelers who love to spend time outdoors, and there's no better way to enjoy your trip here than to rent a kayak or book a kayaking tour.
The rivers tumbling down from the Cascade Mountains are great for experienced kayakers to flip and play with whitewater boats. Lake and sit-on-top kayaks can be used in the calm harbors surrounding Vancouver, and opportunities to rent them by the hour here abound. The most commonly used kayak type in Vancouver is the sea kayak, and the inland seas here abound with opportunities to take sea kayak tours that range from a few hours to multi-day trips. On a kayaking tour in Vancouver, you can enjoy activities like whale watching or even learning how to fish the shallow, narrow regions of the area. There are lots of campgrounds on the uninhabited shorelines and island of BC that cater to kayaks, and can only be reached by small boat.
The most daring boaters of all might even consider the international kayak trail that reaches from southeast Alaska all the way down to Olympia, Washington and stays on inland seas almost the entire way. You can access the trail from Vancouver and paddle part of it for an exciting adventure. This quiet, slow method of boating is one of the best ways to see wildlife, and curious animals like harbor seals enjoy coming right up to you for a closer look.
If a trip to Alaska from here sounds fun, but you want the voyage without the work, Vancouver is one of the largest cruise ship departure ports in the world. Cruises from Vancouver can be in either large boats or small, and many of them will have themes. Smaller boats may give options for whale watching or fishing day-trips while the boat is in port. Larger boats may visit nearby must-see locations like Victoria and may offer a chance to see the secluded and rarely viewed coast of outer Vancouver Island.
Highlights of cruising in Vancouver can include all-you-can-eat food, many entertainment opportunities, and a chance to see orcas, grizzlies, and humpbacks in the wild, as well as a chance to explore both British Columbia and southeast Alaska. Cruises give a great opportunity to visit different areas with someone else as a captain, but then rent a boat for local day trips at different ports.
Prefer to see Vancouver at a faster pace? Rent a jet ski and fly through the waves and check out sites along the waterfront. It's a thrilling ride to enjoy, and jet ski rentals are plentiful in this coastal city. Jet ski rentals in Vancouver cost about $100/hour and are a great way to enjoy an adrenaline rush while discovering more of the city.
If you love adventure, there are few things that offer the exhilaration that whitewater rafting can give you. The rivers in British Columbia will not disappoint you, a rafting trip in Vancouver is certain to be a thrilling experience. One important note, this is not warm water — the source of the rivers is snow and glacier melt, and you will definitely feel it. If you work with a guide company, they will make sure you are safe and appropriately dressed.
There are so many great places to explore by boat in and around Vancouver that many people will want to do multi-day boating trips here. If this is you, rent a houseboat and explore British Columbia. You can dock overnight at marinas, boat-in resorts, on mooring buoys or at anchor. There are places to hike and camp accessible by boat, particularly around the island chains inside of Vancouver Island.
Houseboat rentals and trips in Vancouver can be for a single night, or you can take a month-long voyage up the Inside Passage and discover the joys of a long sea journey. Food can be found by making one-pot meals at sea, at waterfront restaurants with docks and boat slips, by beachcombing for clams and oysters and gathering wild kelp and blackberries, or dropping a line for a fat salmon or cod.
Vancouver is a great place to take a whale-watching trip. The Strait of Georgia shares the world’s most famous orca population, and summer whale watchers here have the opportunity to be treated to the acrobatics of around 85 charismatic killer whales. This is just a part of the whale population here, however. Minke whales are subtler and in the Strait of Georgia in abundance, but the appearance of their 35’ long bodies is still exciting.
Other sightings like humpbacks, white-sided dolphins, and gray whales are less common but definitely possible on a whale watching tour from Vancouver.
The most common whale watching boat here is a hard-sided inflatable raft (RIB) that is capable of high speeds and gives lots of exposure for guests to observe the wildlife.
No matter how you choose to get on the water in Vancouver, you will not be disappointed. The temperate weather makes it great year-round, provided you bring layers and water and wind protection. The friendly people, beautiful scenery, and diverse culture make this a fabulous city to visit and rent a boat.
Need a boat rental or charter for your next trip to Vancouver? Download the GetMyBoat app and search hundreds of options in Vancouver and across Canada for an amazing experience out on the water.