My partner, Yohann, loves jet skis and he loves zooming on the ocean surface. So jet skiing in Vancouver was one of the first things he wanted to do when we arrived. Me? Well, I’m not particularly keen on motorized outdoor adventures so I almost didn’t go. But I’m so glad he convinced me – I had an absolute blast jet skiing in Vancouver!
I was expecting us to navigate around the anchored tankers, maybe head out near Jerico Beach or Pacific Spirit Regional Park – both places we could visit from the land. But the beauty of jet skis, in comparison to my beloved paddling, is that you can cover so much distance, so quickly.
We zoomed out to Howe Sound, the beautiful island-dotted body of water separating Vancouver from the Sunshine Coast. We explored around the islands, under the gaze of the mountains and even saw two dozen or so sea lions!
So all this to say, if you’re considering jet skiing in Vancouver – you should absolutely do it! In this post, I’ll go over the experience and the logistics to rent seadoos in Vancouver so you can plan this adventure for yourself!
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The Logistics of Jet Skiing in Vancouver
Jet Ski Rentals in Vancouver
I’m sure there are a few companies offering jet ski rentals in Vancouver, though I’m only familiar with Vancouver Water Adventures. We chose them for two reasons. First, they offer an excellent discount on Tuesdays – the second person gets 50% off! Second, they are located on Granville Island which is exceptionally easy to reach from downtown (more on that below).
Pricing: We opted for a 2-hour rental, though we’re doing it again next month and plan to book an 8-hour rental to explore more of Howe Sound. The price for the 2-hour rental was $199 per person, meanwhile the price for the 8-hour rental is $499. An additional rider costs between $49 and $99 depending on the rental length. You can read more about it here.
Tours: Vancouver Water Adventures also offers guided tours if you don’t want to go self-guided. The Ultimate Day Tour is 7 hours and goes all the way to the Sunshine Coast! The Ocean is Yours tour is just 2.5 hours and goes to Anvil Island (which you could easily reach on your own, so I don’t recommend this one).
Note: Some people say “jet ski” and some people say “sea do”. I tend to use them interchangeably and have done so in this post.
Getting to the Jet Skiing
Our rental departed from Granville Island, which is super easy to reach from downtown Vancouver.
By Foot / Aquabus: Walk south on Hornby Street until you False Creek – here you will find an Aquabus stop. An Aquabus arrives every 5-10 minutes and it takes about that long to cross False Creek. You arrive right at Granville Island, to the left of the market. From there, it’s a short walk west toward Vancouver Water Adventures.
By Car / Uber: From downtown Vancouver, it’s about a 10 minute car ride to Granville Island.
By Bus: If coming from downtown Vancouver, don’t take the bus. It’ll take WAY longer and still involve quite a bit of walking.
What to Bring for Jet Skiing in Vancouver
Bathing Suit: Vancouver Water Adventures will provide you with a wet suit and life jacket, however you’ll need to bring a bathing suit to wear underneath it.
Sunscreen and Sunglasses: The glare of the sun off of the water is incredibly bright, so avoid sunburns by bringing sunscreen. I also recommend sunglasses, as this will make it easier to navigate the sea doo if you’re driving towards the sun.
Camera? I didn’t bring my camera and I so regret it. There is a small console at the front of the jet ski that you could put your camera in (not waterproof, but safe as long as you don’t flip the jet ski). Though I don’t think it would fit a large DSLR and lens.
We were able to leave a backpack with our clothes and other items. They also gave us a waterproof case to hold our phones and wallets. They also gave us a set of emergency phone numbers in case something happened.
Jet Skiing in Vancouver: The Experience
Shortly after arriving at Vancouver Water Adventures, we were outfitted in wet suits and life jackets and introduced to our sea doos.
English Bay / Burrard Inlet
Once we were past the Burrard Bridge we could crank up the gas a bit, and we could hit full speed once we were out of False Creek and on English Bay. The bay transitions into Burrard Inlet, which has a lot of other boat traffic, most notably tankers and tugboats. My preference was to make a beeline out of there as quickly as possible. It isn’t dangerous or tricky to navigate, I was just so keen to get to Howe Sound and away from other boats.
So we crossed Burrard Inlet, leaving the other boats in the distance and really picking up speed as we drew closer to Howe Sound.
We entered Howe Sound in between West Vancouver and Bowen Island. By this point the only other boats we saw were sailboats and the BC Ferry that connects Horseshoe Bay with Bowen Island. This part was familiar, as we’d taken the ferry to Bowen Island a few weeks prior. But once we were past the Bowen Island docks we were in new territory.
We took the sea doos north, following a path somewhat parallel to the Sea to Sky Highway.
Boyer Island / Gambier Island
After Bowen, the next islands we encountered were Boyer and Gambier. Boyer is a small island and rather unremarkable. Gambier Island is home to Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park, which looked quite beautiful from the water. There are two campgrounds on Gambier Island, and a dozen or so more on the shore of Howe Sound, which can only be accessed by boat.
Unfortunately, you can’t book sea doos overnight, so if you’d like to camp on the sound you’d need to rent a kayak / sail instead.
We didn’t see any other boats in this part of the sound, so we gunned it with the sea doos. And damn, can they go fast. We were hitting 60 km/h are some points!
The next sight we zoomed by was unassuming at first. Pam Rock is very, very small – almost unnoticeable on Google Maps. However, we spotted something moving on the island. We stopped the sea doos and approached very slowly, ensuring we were moving slow enough so as to not scare or disturb whatever was moving.
What we found were dozens of sea lions!
Sorry the pictures are a little grainy – we wanted to keep our distance from them, so I zoomed by iPhone in as much as I could. I wish I’d brought my DSLR!
Back to Granville Island
Shortly after seeing the sea lions, we had to book it back to Granville Island. I wish we’d had the rental for an additional hour so we could head slightly further north to Anvil Island.
Also, don’t underestimate the time it’ll take you to get back, since you have to reduce your speed on False Creek to just 5 km/h.
Things to do on Granville Island after Jet Skiing
I absolutely love Granville Island and come here every week or two. There are a ton of things to do on the island (especially if you like food). Here are a few of my favourites:
Granville Island Brewing: This is a great place to grab a bite to eat and drink a beer after jet skiing.
Popina Canteen: This is a super popular ice cream shop. Even in the dead of winter and during a pandemic, there were always people here getting ice cream.
Lee’s Donuts: This is the most popular food joint on the island. Seriously. I’ve never seen the place without a super long line (literally out the doors and down the length of the market). But if you have patience, the pay off is amazing – these are some of the best donuts in Vancouver.
Granville Island Public Market: There’s a great food court in the market. I like the vegan Vietnamese place (specifically, their Rickety Rickshaw bowl and Taro chips). There are also a couple of salad shops and sushi joints. There’s even a pickle stand with artisanal pickles! Oh and there are lots of chocolate booths. Yum.
Note: Right now there is no indoor seating, though there is lots of seating outside by the water.
Inukshuk Gallery: This art gallery has some stunning pieces of art by First Nations and Inuit artists. For Valentine’s Day by boyfriend got me a paddle from here and it’s absolutely stunning. While the large pieces are very expensive, there are some smaller pieces that are much more affordable.
Paper-Ya: My boyfriend is a huge nerd for stationary and absolutely loves this store. They have a wide variety of notebooks, journals, fancy pens, expensive paper and even stickers, posters and miscellaneous knick-knacks.
Ron Basford Park and Sutcliffe Park: These are quiet, pleasant parks to walk through with a coffee or smoothie – especially in the morning.
Giants: The Giants are painted concrete silos in the industrial corner of Granville Island. It’s actually quite difficult to get a good view of them (since they’re behind an ivy-covered fence), but they’re still worth checking out. You can also get a decent view of them from the water on the other side.
Where to Stay in Near Granville Island
To my knowledge, the only place to stay on Granville Island itself is the Granville Island Hotel. This hotel is at the south end of the island and its dining room has the most wonderful view of False Creek.
But I’d recommend staying in Yaletown, personally. I’ve been living here for 6 months and it’s an excellent location – you’re within walking distance to Granville Island but also tons of stores, restaurants, the West End, English Bay Beach and Stanley Park (though that’s a bit of a long walk).
I’ve been staying at LEVEL Furnished Living – Yaletown, which is great for long term stays because each unit has a full kitchen and laundry (and they have a roof top pool / hot tub and an amazing gym). It’s a 15 minute walk + 5 min ferry ride to Granville Island from here.
Alternatively, there are tons of Airbnb / VRBO options around Yaletown. Here are some options for Accommodations near Granville Island. One option I’ll specifically call out is the Yaletown Waterfront Complex, which I walk by almost every day and has a lovely view of False Creek and the harbour. It’s a short walk to the dock for either False Creek Ferries or the Aquabus (both of which go to Granville Island).
Jet Skiing in Vancouver – Final Thoughts
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and are keen to explore Vancouver by jet ski yourself! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below. Here are a couple of other posts I’ve written about the area that may be of use. Happy adventuring!