Paddle West Kayaking has been planning Custom Multi-Day Kayak Tours in Tofino for families for the past 10 years, and we never tire of listening to the stories after a successful trip. Let us do the planning so you can make the most of your family adventure!
I have a family of my own with a 6 and a 9-year-old and every year we plan a family sea kayak trips right here in Clayoquot Sound, because why would we do anything else? It is the best right here! We often go out with another family to share the experience together.
• Minimum age 5 years old
• Minimum guests to book a private tour: 4
Private Family Tours are the perfect way to get your family together in the outdoors and create lasting memories. Perhaps you want to plan a digital detox and leave the phones at home. Or maybe you are looking to connect before your older children head off to school. The activities to keep families and children entertained are endless on and off the water. On the water you will experience world class sea kayaking and exciting conditions and the most beautiful scenery on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Off the water you will be camping and living on the beach with your family while your guide takes you tide pooling, shares their knowledge and cooks you healthy family friendly meals to please everyone.
The Paddling on Family Tours:
The Paddling can be customized to suit your experience level and age of your children. You need to come see for yourself the beauty and magic of paddling in Clayoquot Sound. This sea kayak trip is centered around Vargas Island, which is a large Island in the middle of Clayoquot Sound with many large sandy beaches for landing and camping. The East and North side of the Island offers more protection from the elements, while the west side experiences the swell of the Pacific Ocean. There is no set itinerary because Mother Nature is always leading the way for us on all of our tours. You will be paddling with a certified and experienced guide that will make safe and interesting route decisions for you on your trip and work with you to plan each day based on the conditions and the ambitions of your group.
Sample 3-Day Itinerary from past tours…To get you excited:
Before the trip: After a day of enjoying the journey to Tofino you will stop in to our humble and joyful little kayak shack the night before your tour to meet one of our team members who can check you in and help you make any last-minute preparations and to give you your dry bags to pack your gear into. We will review the weather forecast, tides, swell and show you a map (nautical chart) of the area to start getting your senses excited, and explain what options the forecast dictates for your tour. We will set a time based on the tides to meet back up in the morning between 7:30am and 9:00am.
After a breakfast of your choosing from the many fine establishments in Tofino you will arrive to meet you guide. The kayaks will be mostly packed already with, food, group gear and water so that all you need to do is pack your gear into the kayak. The guide will ensure everyone is dressed well for the conditions and lead everyone through a pre-trip orientation.
Lucky you, it is a sunny day with a light ocean breeze to keep you cool. Because the children on this tour are younger, the guide decides to take you to a beach that is a little closer, with no waves and that you will set up and stay for two nights. This way you can take it easy, have less packing to do you will have more time to explore and enjoy the intertidal wildlife and appreciate the eagles soaring above you as you paddle. On the way out of the harbour your guide will give you paddling tips to make the ride go smooth and help you make the kayak move well with your child in the front. You can do it! After paddling from our dock and out of the Tofino harbour and crossing to Meares Island or Vargas Island we can get out for a rest stop to stretch the legs and have a quick snack. It won’t be too far away from a lunch stop now. There are numerous places for the guide to choose to take you to enjoy your first fresh meal on the beach. After lunch we will continue to paddle a little further, perhaps an hour more until you get to the campsite. After an easy 4-to-5-hour trip with stops along the way you paddle around a rugged headland to reveal a spectacular West Coast Beach that you will head in to and set up camp for the next two nights. Enjoy the sunset and life on the beach!
You wake up to sound of the lapping waves and the smell of fresh ocean air and coffee. Your guide is busy preparing you some west coast French toast with summer berries. You learn that the swells (ocean waves) are low and the wind will stay down for the day so your guide is taking you out to see the West Side of Vargas Island. It will be 4-5 hours of kayaking with stops on a West Coast Beach for lunch to make a full day out on the water. On the way to lunch while paddling along the shoreline and along the kelp forests you witness coho salmon jumping out of the water in pursuit of prey, harbour porpoise surface just 100 m away from your kayak. As you near the next beach you spot a small raft of sea otters floating on their back in the middle of the channel! Wildlife is always near! You arrive at another expansive and wild looking white sandy beach. Your guide does a short lesson and the guides you in through the small waves onto the beach. You are free to enjoy the beach after helping the guide move the kayaks up and away from the rising tide. As lunch is prepared you pull out the frisbee from the kayaks and enjoy a game of catch with your family. Life is good. After a relaxed lunch you get back in the kayaks to head out to leisurely explore some of the small outer island near to Vargas, was that a whale blow you just saw in the distance? After taking your time to admire, you start making your way back to your campsite and feel comfort in knowing that when you arrive, camp is already set up and your guide will prepare you an appetizer and then another flavourful and fresh camp cooked meal…Smoked Salmon on pasta with a fresh herb and lemon cream sauce, for instance. The night is ended with marshmallows around the fire, the kids tucked in in the tent, hopefully not too scared from the Sasquatch (Pook-mis) story that the guide told them. You are left to enjoy the starry sky around the campfire with your partner.
You wake up to the lapping waves and fresh air again, thinking “I can get used to this”. Because we decided to camp at the same beach both nights, we will return home to Tofino the way we came. However, it is a new day with new conditions, your paddling has improved, and the view is new because you are now going the other way. The last day is not just about getting home. There is still plenty to learn and explore as you paddle along the rocks at low tide a rock plover is cheerfully searching for food amongst the colourful algae as you come to realize that there is life all around you from the sky to the treetops, along the rocks and down to the ocean floor. Your guide will take you to another new and beautiful lunch and rest stop to soak in a little more sun and sand and fresh trip food. As you ride the powerful tide back into the Tofino harbour, you will not believe how fast your three days on the water goes by and yet how long ago it feels like you have been away from town. You will remember this trip for the rest of your life!
Family Camping on the Beach:
All of our campsites are on stunning sandy beaches. Your guide will engage your group and teach you how to set up a West Coast beach campsite. We will teach you how to minimize our impact and how to respectfully visit the Hahoulthee of the Ahousaht First Nations. When we leave the beach all that will be left behind is your footprints in the sand next to the wolf prints. There is no better way to relax and get away from the busyness of daily life than enjoying life on the beach. Your guide will ensure you can make the most of your time, by cooking excellent meals for you, and sharing their extensive knowledge of the Pacific Northwest. If curling up in the driftwood and reading a book is not for you then perhaps you will enjoy beachcombing the high tide line, tidepooling on the rocks or watching the wildlife from shore. If you like to exercise you can go for a jog, stretch on beach or perhaps get everyone involved in a spirited soccer or frisbee match. After a day on the water and a camp cooked dinner by your guide you can watch the sunset, and if it safe to do so, we can enjoy a campfire on the beach to stay warm as the cool ocean temperature takes over and cools the air to make it perfect for a good night rest in your warm tent as the sound of the ocean sets you to sleep.
Food on Family Tours:
The food for your private family tour can be customized to suit most all dietary requirements and please even the fussiest kids. Food is important to make a great trip and we make sure to gather information before the trip to ensure everyone loves the food. On sea kayak trips we can pack lots of fresh ingredients because the ocean water keeps everything nice and cool when it is packed in the hatches of the kayaks! We prepare some of the ingredients ahead of time and pack many fresh ingredients for the guide to work with. The menu is adaptable items so that different ingredients and toppings can be added to meals so that each person can personalize their meal make it full of flavour and extravagance or keep it simple. All of or guests are always impressed at how well we they eat on their kayak tour.
Planning your Bucket-List Sea Kayak Tour
2022 Tour Dates
3-Day Vargas Island Tour Dates:
Private dates are available and longer trips can be planned if 3 days is not enough.
- June 10-12
- June 17-19– sold
- June 24-26
- July 1-3
- July 8-10
- July 16-18
July 22-24– sold
- July 30-August 1
- August 5-7 – sold
- August 12-14
- August 19-21 – sold
August 26-28– sold
- September 2-4
- September 9-11
- September 16-18
- September 23-25
We speak with every guest in person before you book to get the details correct, answer your questions and get you excited to go on a Sea Kayak Expedition in Clayoquot Sound.
Paddle West Kayaking offers a 3 day, 2 night tour. The tour begins, unless otherwise specified, on Friday at 8:00am and ends on Sunday between 12:00pm and 3:00pm (weather dependent). All tours begin and end in Tofino, British Columbia on our docks at Jamie’s Whaling Station.
It is recommended to arrive at least one day prior to the beginning of the tour. This will allow you to meet your guide and to pack so you are ready to paddle away the following morning. Knowing how beautiful Tofino, Ucluelet and the surrounding area is we suggest that you plan to stay and explore once your tour ends.
Private group trips are available. If you have a group of 4 or more, we can often accommodate the dates of your choosing: Want more than 3 days? Let us plan a custom expedition for you
2022 Cancellation Policy: At this time we are taking reservations for 2022 a 50% deposit is applied at the time of booking which will be refundable up to 60 days before the tour.
Final payment is due 30 days before the tour, and is non-refundable.
***See our Terms & Conditions for more details.
Required Paddling Experience
Our multi-day tour requires no previous paddling experience but we suggest that you be familiar with camping in a wilderness setting. It is also recommended that you have the physical ability to sit in a kayak and paddle for four to six hours a day. The paddling is often not strenuous but depending on conditions more physical exertion may be required. The tour and the destination campsites will be determined by the group’s experience and abilities.
What to Bring
Paddle West Kayaking provides all the kayaking and safety gear required for the tour, your guide, wilderness camping fees and West Coast inspired meals.
You are responsible for providing your own camping set up which includes a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, personal clothing and other personal items. If you do not have your own camping set up, Paddle West Kayaking rents such items for a reasonable extra cost.
Please see the Packing List page for a detailed list of what to bring with you on your tour.