One of the things I love about Vancouver is how quickly you can escape downtown for a quiet slice of wilderness – and Deep Cove is one such place. The small neighbourhood rests on the western shore of Indian Arm, where there is little boat traffic, a sprinkling of quaint houses and an abundance of trees and rolling hills. So on a warm and sunny autumn afternoon, Yohann and I made the trek to North Vancouver for a little kayaking at Deep Cove.
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The Logistics of Kayaking Deep Cove
Getting to Deep Cove
Deep Cove is situated at the far east end of North Vancouver, just north of where Vancouver Harbour becomes Indian Arm. To its north is Mount Seymour Provincial Park, which stretches the entire length of Indian Arm’s western shore. Across the water is the community of Belcarra.
By Car: The easiest way to get to Deep Cove is by car. The drive from downtown Vancouver is about 25 minutes, depending on traffic. See directions here.
By Bus: You can also reach Deep Cove by bus. From Burrard Station in downtown Vancouver, you can either take Bus 211 or Bus 210 and then transfer to Bus 212. Each route takes about 50 minutes. See directions here.
Deep Cove Kayak Rentals
We arrived at Deep Cove Kayak Centre in the late morning. You can book your rental in advance, which is probably a good idea if you’re going on a weekend in the summer. Since it was a weekday in autumn, we didn’t make a reservation.
Upon arriving, we had a waiver to fill out and were fitted with a life jacket and paddle. The employee asked us if we had any kayaking experience – I do – so we didn’t spend too much time on how the kayak and safety gear worked. If you don’t have much kayaking experience, however, they will go over this in more detail.
Note: There was a place for us to keep our shoes and backpacks while kayaking, however you shouldn’t leave valuables as Deep Cove Kayak Centre isn’t responsible for lost / stolen items. We were also given a little dry sack to put our phones and wallet in so we could take them with us but keep them dry.
Kayaking at Deep Cove
We hopped into the kayaks and an employee gave us a push off the sand. Yohann paddled in the front, meanwhile I paddled in the back and manned the rudder (sea kayaks have pedals at your feet that are used to manoeuvre a rudder at the back of the boat).
The first observation we made is that there were so many translucent jellyfish floating in the water. I tried to take a photo of them but the glare off of the water was too bright. Apparently they don’t string, but I still wouldn’t be keen to go swimming with so many floating by.
We crossed the width of Indian Arm easily. In comparison to kayaking near Granville Island (another popular Vancouver kayaking spot), Deep Cove and Indian Arm have very little boat traffic. During our two hours on the water, we were passed by the coast guard and only a handful of sailboats.
Since we only had a 2-hour rental, we cut across Indian Arm toward Cozy Cove and up to Jug Island, which is a little under 3 km from Deep Cove.
Belcarra, and the peninsula on which it rests, is opposite to Deep Cove and directly south of Jug Island. There’s a popular hiking trail to the end of the peninsula which offers views of Jug Island. Instead of doing the hike, however, we used our kayaks to circumnavigate the small island.
There is a small pebble beach and driftwood at the end of the trail, and I wished I’d brought my backpacking stove and some lunch. It would have been a great spot to beach the kayaks and grill some pita pizzas.
On the other side of the peninsula is Bedwell Bay. We paddled south into the bay and hung out here for a bit before turning around to paddle back to Deep Cove.
Other Kayaking Destinations from Deep Cove
If you have a longer rental, you can paddle to Twin Islands which is 5.5 km from Deep Cove. Deep Cove Kayak Rental recommends budgeting 1 h 15 min for each direction.
Overnight on Indian Arm
I haven’t done this personally, though I would really love to. You can rent kayaks for multiple days from Deep Cove Kayak Centre and they will help you pack the kayak with overnight camping gear. From Deep Cove, you can paddle north on Indian Arm past where day-trippers can reach.
A few popular destinations for camping are Granite Falls (18 km from Deep Cove), Twin Islands’ north island (5.5 km from Deep Cove) and Bishop Creek (15 km from Deep Cove).
If you’re new to kayaking, Deep Cove Kayak Centre offers a handful of guided kayak tours ranging in length from 3 hours to 5 hours. There is even a Full Moon kayak tour where you kayak at night until a full moon, which would be super cool.
In addition to kayaks, Deep Cove Kayak Centre also rents Stand Up Paddleboards and Surf Skis. If there is any amount of wind, I don’t recommend renting a SUP. There was another group on the water when we went and they didn’t make it very far out of the cove because of how windy it was.
Tips for Kayaking at Deep Cove
Bring sunscreen and a hat – The sun’s glare off of the water is bright and you could easily get a sunburn even in the spring / autumn. I am prone to burns and thankfully had both sunscreen and a hat.
Bring a snack – Even if you’re only going out for a short amount of time, bring a snack. There’s something so satisfying about pulling out a tasty treat once you’ve reached the destination you were paddling toward. I really wish we’d brought something to snack on.
If you don’t bring a snack, there are some great places to eat in Deep Cove (see the next section below).
Shoes are optional – The inside of the kayak was very dry, and you could wear your shoes in the boat with a good assurance they would stay dry. However, just to be safe we both took off our shoes. Since I was manoeuvring the foot pedals, I actually found it easier to go shoe-less.
The only other way your shoes would get wet is if you tipped. However, you are so unlikely to tip, and if you do tip then you have more important things going on than worrying about wet shoes.
Read More: 21 Best Hikes in Vancouver – Can’t Miss Vancouver Hiking Trails
Other Things to do in Deep Cove
In addition to kayaking, there are a few other things in Deep Cove worth exploring.
Hike to Quarry Rock
Mountain Forest and Cove Forest sit directly north of Deep Cove and offer a dozen or so hiking options. The most popular option is hiking to Quarry Rock, which can be done via the Baden Powell Trail. The trail is easy and suitable for novice hikers: it is 2 km each way, with a total elevation gain of 215 m. From Quarry Rock
Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Quarry Rock is currently closed to the public.
Get a Bite to Eat
Bluhouse Cafe: This cafe makes amazing (and naturally gluten free) crepes. I’ve had the Forage – a savoury crepe with cheese, cherry tomatos and pesto – and the Naughty Nutella – a sweet crepe with Nutella, banana and strawberry. Both were excellent. They also have excellent smoothies and a wide variety of salads, sandwiches and snacks.
Deep Cove Pizza: If crepes aren’t your style, there’s a pizza joint right across from the Deep Cove docks.
Cafe Orso: This is a great cafe a short distance from the docks. I’ve only ordered lattes from here, so I can’t vouch for their food options (though I’m very intrigued by their White Chocolate & Bailey’s waffle).
Corner Beach is a few hundred metres north of Deep Cove Kayak Centre. It’s a pebbly beach and wouldn’t be my preference for swimming or lying under the sun, however it does offer a nice view of the boats at Deep Cove Marina and across to Belcarra. There’s a red lifeguard chair that would make for a great focal point in a photo.
Kayaking at Deep Cove – Final Thoughts
I hope you’ve found this post helpful in planning for some kayaking at Deep Cove. If you have any questions, leave a comment below!
2 thoughts on “Kayaking Deep Cove: Paddling to Jug Island, Belcarra and Bedwell Bay”
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Too many people on a sunny day, terrible traffic jams and no parking! Take the bus or stay away.
Yeah it can get very busy, especially in the summer. Weekdays are better, and I second taking the bus – we did that and had no problems 🙂