Discover the world through travel & beyond!

Kayaking with Kids in Victoria, British Columbia

Travel Mamas sometimes receives compensation and/or hosted travel and sample products related to blog posts. This story may include affiliate links for which we receive a small commission at no extra cost to consumers. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases. Be sure to check with businesses and locations regarding travel restrictions and safety precautions before visiting.

Said to be more English than the England itself, Victoria, British Columbia, is green, clean and charming. But the town’s quaintness isn’t what draws my family here each year. It’s the water. The town’s centerpiece is its sparkling inner harbor, where float planes land every 15 minutes and water taxis ferry passengers from one side of the bay to the next. There are plenty of ways to explore Victoria’s waterways instead of merely strolling along the docks. If you’re looking for a unique and family friendly way to explore this capital city, skip the bus tour and go kayaking with kids in Victoria instead.

Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria, British Columbia (Photo credit: Tourism BC)

Kayaking with kids in Victoria

When my husband and I set out to explore Victoria’s waterways with our grade school daughter, our first order of business was meeting our Ocean River Sports guide, Bryce. He’s an affable sort and a father himself, so he understands all too well the need to turn back when offspring get hangry (that dreaded combination of hungry and angry). After suiting up with life jackets and attending a quick paddling orientation that included safety measures and strokes, we were on our way in no time.

Kayaking with kids in Victoria is a fun way to explore this waterfront city

Kayaking with kids in Victoria – a fun way to explore this waterfront city

Kayak tour highlights

During our tranquil tour (ideal for kids aged 5 years and up), we had a chance to get up close and personal with the best the city has to offer, from seals to seaplanes, bald eagles and the famed Fairmont Empress hotel.

One of our many animal finds, a purple sea star

One of our many animal finds, a purple sea star

Our tour began by paddling over to a delightful bathing hole at the Gorge Waterway in West Victoria. Here, our daughter, Eve, reveled in spotting plenty of purple star fish. We also happened upon a family of harbor seals, a flock of oystercatchers (which are like crows, but with a red beak and legs), and numerous red rock crabs.

Victoria's famous Fairmont Empress Hotel

Victoria’s famous Fairmont Empress Hotel (Photo Credit: Tourism BC/Tom Ryan)

Bring food, money and a grain of salt

After making a mid-way pitstop to pick up water and snacks (bad, forgetful parents), we glided off to the inner harbor where we took in a waterfront view of the majestic Fairmont Empress. It was here we realized our second rookie error—not bringing any cash. If we had, we could’ve stopped at a paddle through fish and chippy floating in Fisherman’s Wharf.

Bryce was well versed in the history of each stop and gave lots of little tidbits about aquatic life, the city and Vancouver Island. Though I’d caution you to take his factoids unrelated to the sea with a grain of salt. The Fairmont Empress is not, in fact, sinking; nor does Nanaimo have anywhere near the population of Victoria (sorry, man—you gotta fact check this stuff).

My daughter enjoyed learning about sea life during our tour

My daughter enjoyed learning about sea life during our tour

Physical aspect of kayaking with kids

I was impressed that I could feel my abs after only an hour of paddling, which was excellent news, according to Bryce. “Newbies tend to use only their arms not their entire core,” he said.

Although tours last three hours, we were done after two. Bryce was sympathetic to our need to rise blood sugar levels (again), and had us back at Ocean River in no time.

He also had us wash our arms and faces, which was a great tip. While we were tired after our morning of paddling, we would’ve been more so if we hadn’t gotten the dried salt water off.

Kayaking with Ocean River Sports

Kayaking with Ocean River Sports

Within a few hours we had ticked off more items from our holiday bucket list then we ever intended: A workout for mom, a tour of the city for the family, and an unobtrusive aquatic education for the kiddo. Next time you’re in Canada’s City of Gardens, be sure to take to the waters! Visit to learn more about kayaking with kids in Victoria.

What’s your favorite way to explore a waterfront city…by foot, car, public transportation or on the water? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you to Destination B.C., Tourism Victoria, and Ocean River Sports, who hosted this opportunity. As always, my opinions are my own. 

All photos by Jody Robbins unless otherwise noted.

About Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama

After a career in international marketing and a few years spent living the high life as an expat, Jody now resides with her family in Calgary, Canada. Figuring travel writing was a good way to combine her wanderlust and parental duties, she’s spent the past few years working with both print and online media, contributing to the Calgary Herald Travel and Real Life sections and blogging about her adventures at Travels with Baggage ( When not circling the globe with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband, one dog), she can usually be found snowboarding or pretending to enjoy hiking. Find Jody on Twitter at @Jody_Robbins.

  1. Nice pics! Especially the first one….

  2. Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

    Thanks, Phil. It really did look that pretty.

  3. I saw your photos come through my FB feed, and all I could think was I WANT TO GO THERE!! Wow- looks lovely and I can’t wait to go kayaking with the boys. I think they’ll love it.

  4. Very alluring pics…made me enthusiast to visit Columbia. Thank you very much for the lovey post.
    hotel near aquatica

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      I don’t anyone who doesn’t love British Columbia. Appreciate your kind words! Jody

  5. We’ve been to Victoria and visited many sights, even some antique shops, but I never thought to get on the water in a kayak. This was a wonderful report and believe me I will look into two things – the Fairmont Hotel and kayaking.

  6. Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

    I’m the same as you, Ellen. I’d visited Victoria in the past, but it never occurred to me to explore the city via its waterways. I’m trying to do more when I’m holiday with my family (instead of just lounging around the hotel pool), so this was a great way to please everyone.


  1. S'more Summer Please! - Jody Robbins says:

    […] there were loads of other activities that vied for our attention. I loved our trip to Whitefish and kayaking Victoria’s inner harbour. We managed to get more hiking and biking in, and Eve was thrilled to get some quality time at my […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.