This tour is specifically designed to mix rowing, tourism and premium accommodations. If you have never been to the West Coast of Canada, this seven-day tour will allow you to experience the best part of its beautiful coastline. You will have the unique opportunity to stay, hike, visit and row to no less than five islands. Best known for its abundant wildlife, the Gulf Islands will surprise and delight you. You might row alongside seals, sea lions, or porpoises while bald eagles may whistle over your head. A pod of orcas may even appear in front of your bow to say hello.
We all like to row and take in the scenery while getting a good work-out but after a nice morning or day on the water you will appreciate a hot tub, a glass of local wine and a gourmet dinner prepared especially for you by our Chef. Our experienced team will guide you on and off the water, and share with you their passion for rowing, and nature.
If the idea of seeing a magical place in a coastal scull, enjoying, a pint of local craft beer and enjoying the comfort of a cozy bed in the evening, sounds perfect to you,, then this exclusive, unique way of touring and seeing the Canadian West Coast, is for you.
Close to Victoria International Airport (YYJ) and Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, Sidney is ideally located on Vancouver Island. We will welcome you at the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa Resort for your first night. The pedestrian-friendly downtown offers an excellent variety of stores, specialty shops and businesses providing unique products and personalized service. Sidney is Canada’s only Booktown where you can enjoy many hours of browsing through new and used bookstores. Visit the Sidney Aquarium, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, explore the beaches and tide pools, relax in one of Sidney’s local cafes or enjoy a walk along the Seaside Walkway.
Distance rowed: 0 km
Evening activity: On Your Own
The first part of your rowing adventure will start in the early morning at Port of Sidney. Aboard an EcoCruise Shuttle, Aboard an EcoCruise Shuttle, you will cruise quietly among the coastal islands, passages and wildlife hotspots rich with seal pups, nesting eagles, comical oystercatchers and purple sea stars. Enjoy an interesting narration about Sidney’s scenic waterfront, its diverse marine life, and the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
Once on Piers Island, your rowing guides will go through safety procedures and after a waterfront breakfast, you will start rowing towards South Pender Island via Portland Island National Park. Our destination is Poets Cove and its Hotel Resort and Spa overlooking a beautiful sandy beach.
After relaxing at the spa or on the beach, dinner will be served, followed by a coastal rowing clinic by Katie Bahain-Steenman, high performance rowing coach and coastal rowing guide.
Distance rowed: 16 km
Evening activity: Coastal Rowing Clinic “Go Coastal” by Katie Bahain-Steenman
Going through Pender Canal, you will row around South Pender Island. Explore the magnificent surroundings and the diverse wildlife that is found both on land and within the water that surround the Pender Islands. Commonly seen throughout the year are, the bald eagles, river otters and harbour seals. Others are more elusive and require some luck like the resident pods of orcas and dolphins or even a gray whale or humpback whale.
After a lovely dinner, join us for a glass of wine or local beer to hear the unique story about rowing on the Atlantic Ocean. Julien Bahain will share with you his incredible journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a 20-foot row boat.
Distance rowed: 18 km
Evening Activity: “Rowing Across the Ocean” by Julien Bahain
Be ready for the longest row of the trip, you will reach your destination in two steps. Step 1 will bring us from Poets Cove to Prevost Island where you will enjoy lunch on the beach. Provost is a very pleasant and often quiet area in the Gulf Island National Parks. This is one of the few areas where the water is regularly warm enough for swimming Step 2, between Prevost Island and Ganges on Salt Spring Island, will be a short but scenic row into Captain Passage.
You will stay at the Mariner’s Loft in the heart of Ganges. With fully furnished luxury suites, you will enjoy the best view on Ganges and the bay.
Distance rowed: 26 km
Evening activity: On Your Own.
Hotel: Mariner’s Loft
A day off from rowing but an opportunity to explore Salt Spring Island, have a look at the famous Salt Spring market or go and explore other thing the Island has to offer. We have plenty of suggestions for you. The following activities are ‘adds on’ to the rowing tour, extra fees may apply:
– 18-Holes at the Salt Spring Island Golf & Country Club. Just minutes from GangesSalt Spring Island golf courseis a beautiful 9 hole, 3032 yard, par 36 course of gently rolling fairways, water features and old growth forest.
– A 5-hour culinary day tourthat includes a visit to a wood fired bakery, a visit to the Salt Spring Island Cheese Farm, a visit to one or more local wineries/vineyards, a visit to a cidery, distillery, and/or brewery, a tour of an organic garden, and a lunch at a local café or outdoor food court.
– A 4- hour whale watching triparound Salt Spring Island will get you close to some resident or migrating whales such as orca, humpback, grey or minke whales.
– 3-hour coastal rowing on-water clinic. For those of you who feel like improving their rowing skills and learn more about competitive coastal rowing, you will have the opportunity to spend time on the water doing drills, practicing beach starts, and turning around buoys.
Distance rowed: 0 km
Evening activity: Chef Experience, where we will be treated to an amazing dinner designed just for us.
Hotel: Mariner’s Loft
Before rowing away from Salt Spring, you will have the opportunity to spend your morning at Ganges Market. Every Saturday, hundreds of vendors sell produce, baked goods, soaps, lotions, art, jewelry, pottery, and other crafts under the rule that you must: “Make it, bake it, or grow it”. Our row back to Piers Island will take us along Ruckle Provincial Park and Russell Island. A relaxing shuttle ride back to Sidney Pier Hotel will cap off your Gulf Islands adventure.
Distance rowed: 22km
Evening activity: “Get together event” – Let’s celebrate the end of our adventure together at the Haro’s Bar & Lounge.
Even though the rowing adventure came to an end, we encourage you to extend you stay and enjoy what Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria have to offer. Victoria is a vibrant city on the edge of nature. Urban, rural and nature blend seamlessly. The Saanich Peninsula, and especially the city of Victoria, boasts fabulous coffee and superb West Coast cuisine – think salmon, locally grown fruit and vegetables, local cheeses and award-winning BC wines. Victoria has been named as BC’s craft beer capital. Dozens of regional and provincial parks in the area offer quiet and a touch of wilderness. Spend time exploring the nearby spectacular and world renown Butchart Gardens or learn about totem poles and indigenous history and culture at the Royal BC Museum. This wonderful corner of Canada has it all!
Note that weather conditions as well as tides will determine the exact time and location of the rows. Your safety is a priority. Participants must be flexible and adaptable to changes. This is the first year the Gulf Islands Ultimate Tour is running and is a pilot trip.
Check our packing List to make sure you are not forgetting anything; Packing List Ultimate Tour