The 7 Best Things to Do on a Small Boat Tour of BC’s Summer Coast

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Photo: Simon Ager. While most of British Columbia’s summer destinations are teeming with tourists, our expeditions offer an alternative escape to areas where you can find solitude in nature.

“Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit,” said American theatre critic Brooks Atkinson.

For many of us, like Atkinson, travelling is a divine state, and exploring by boat its purest form.

British Columbia, with its stunning landscapes, culinary artistry, mix of ancient and modern maritime culture and friendly people, provides experiences around every corner. You can’t drive to some of the best, though.

As a result, week-long, small boat cruises by local operators are becoming one of the popular new ways to explore this coastline. Here are seven great summer experiences you can have on a small boat tour with veteran operator Maple Leaf Adventures along BC coast.

Photo: Jeff Reynolds. Wherever you sail with Maple Leaf, you’ll share days with locals of the coast—from scientists and Indigenous leaders, to your friendly and knowledgable guiding crew.

See How Others Live

Stepping aboard the unique little ships that Maple Leaf Adventures operates, you’re immediately in a new world. Heritage tugboat Swell is beloved for her working history in these ports; heritage schooner Maple Leaf is a legend for her history as both a society yacht and a tough long-liner; expedition catamaran Cascadia is admired for her rugged luxury. Through living aboard and arriving at destinations by boat, you’ll see how locals, from your friendly guides to people in coastal communities, live with the sea as their culture.

Beach Landings

Beach walking has a new dimension when you arrive at a secluded island by tender, and hop out to explore. Here, the beach is the front door to a new world, rather than the end of the city street. Trips average about 2 shore trips per day – to beautiful beaches, rainforest trails, hot springs, communities, research stations and other interesting spots.

Al Fresco Dining

The crew often serves meals outdoors in summer. Dine on locally sourced ingredients while enjoying both good conversation and views of islands and birds who swim past.

Photo: Simon Ager. The Inside Passage and outer coast offer peak opportunities to witness spectacular whale behaviors, from humpbacks bubble-net feeding to the playful breach of an orca calf.

View Wildlife

Speaking of birds, the BC coast is famous for its wildlife and these trips include some of the best opportunities in the country for viewing whales and other marine mammals, and seabirds, with the chance to potentially view land mammals such as wolves or the odd bear.

Learn About the World

“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth,” said Rachael Carson. The trips all have naturalist guides on board, helping to explain the world around you. Many trips also visit local researchers whose ground-breaking work is changing what we know about whales and other species on the coast.

Meet People “Off the Beaten Track”

Many communities dot the coastline, from centres in Indigenous territories to Canadian towns. As your crew takes you to visit some, you’ll have the chance to talk and dine with locals, whether it’s at traditional salmon bake on the Vancouver Island’s Wild Side trip or a cultural guide in Klemtu on a Great Bear Rainforest trip or Alert Bay on a Whales & Totems trip.

Contemplate the World As It Reveals Itself

Being on a cozy boat, gazing at coastal mountains and islands as the water slips past the hull is like being in state of grace. With all your comforts looked after by the boat and crew, with ever-changing beauty to gaze at, peoples’ minds tend to clear. As singer James Taylor wrote about this state, “everything falls into place in terms of what’s important and what’s not.”

Photo: Greg Shea. In the fall, we follow magnificent runs of wild salmon to bear-filled creeks, or explore nearby ports dressed in autumnal colours.

Bonus: Bounty of Land and Sea in Fall

If fall travel is more your goal, you can focus on the bounty of sea and land in fall. Salmon return to creeks bringing more bears to the shoreline; produce and wine harvests kick off culinary creations including fine wines.

Special incentive for solo travellers this summer!

For 2023, solo travellers can book their own cabin on selected sailing dates and pay no single supplement. Call 1-250-386-7245 to inquire or visit our special offers.


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