British Columbia’s Best Boating Lakes

Boating in British Columbia? BC is peppered with lakes, rivers, and a coastline that’ll keep boaters exploring for years. Check out some fantastic lakes for watersports and lakeside festivals, and awesome spots for boating in British Columbia. Okanagan Lake spans 130 km. Harrison Lake with almost unlimited boating access. Cowichan Lake where the top water-skiing and wakeboarding fanatics have been known to land some tricks! More of a ‘cruise along the coast’ type of boater? Discover Tofino for some amazing shoreline scenery, sunsets, and world-famous surfing competitions. Or start at Fraser River and work your way up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound for weeks of endless beauty!

Desolation Sound

Known for its breathtaking views, Desolation Sound is a serious destination for boaters. Paddlers love it for its many shallow coves and inlets. Boaters can take in views of the surrounding islands and mountain landscapes. Due to the shallower areas, the waters of Desolation Sound are also much warmer, creating perfect conditions for swimming and scuba diving.

There are also 3 nearby Provincial Parks in the area. Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, Copeland Islands Marine Provincial Park, and Malaspina Provincial Park.

Harrison Lake

This 60km long, glacier fed lake is a must-see for boaters in BC.

Take in the stunning views of Breckenridge Glacier, while you boat, water ski, or sail your way across this freshwater beauty. Make a stop at the Harrison Hot Springs to top off your trip.

Just remember that boating safety is especially important on Harrison. Being Glacier fed, the waters on this lake can get extremely cold. Be sure to wear your life jacket, and be aware of cold water survival techniques before you head out.

The Sunshine Coast

BC’s Sunshine Coast offers year-round boating (that’s right, Canada! Year. Round.), making it a top destination for boating enthusiasts nationwide. Located just North-west of Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is easily accessible by ferry. There’s practically no limit to the boating activities available. Enjoy harbour and sail tours, coastal cruises and tours, and Paddlesports adventures. The opportunities to get out on the water are endless.

You’ll also have the opportunity to spot an abundance of marine life, including Sea Lions, Orcas and Porpoises.

Check-out the Sunshine Coast Boating & Tourism page for trip and activity planning resources.

Okanagan Lake

Spanning the length of the Okanagan Valley, this monster lake stretches on for 135km – making room for some stellar boating and water activities. It’s also easily accessible on all sides, from some of BCs most beautiful cities, including Kelowna, and Penticton. There are numerous marina’s in the area that can meet all of your boating, docking, and launching needs.

Just keep an eye out for The Ogopogo – and be sure to have your camera ready in case you spot it!

Cowichan Valley & Lake Cowichan

The town of Lake Cowichan and it’s namesake, Cowichan Lake, are seriously popular destinations for boating in British Columbia. Nestled in the mountains of Vancouver Island, Cowichan Lake is surrounded by stunning mountainous views, and rocky terrain.

The larger region of Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island’s top tourism destination which spans much of the south end of Vancouver Island, also offers numerous water activities. There are dozens of marina’s, and nearby restaurants bordering the coast of the Island. Docking and grabbing a bite, or fueling up for the afternoon is easy and convenient.

Those anchored offshore at night may also get the opportunity to listen to the chorus of orca and otter chatter throughout the night. Or you can book a whale-watching day trip and catch a glimpse of Vancouver Islands larger than life ocean residents.

Boating in British Columbia

British Columbia Provincial & National Parks

British Columbia’s residents and visitors have enumerable options when it comes to choosing a provincial or national park to visit. Boating and watersports buffs can check out the BC Parks & Parks Canada website for more information on which of BC’s parks offer boating, but here’s a quick list of the top spots.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve: This wonder of nature offers boating, paddlings, and surfing opportunities. Soak up the stunning views as you paddle along the Pachena River, or catch a wave off the coast. You’re bound to find an activity that satisfies your inner outdoorsman.

Northern Rocky Mountain Provincial Park: True to its name, this Provincial Park is enveloped by BC’s rocky mountain terrain. While you’re there, check out the turquoise waters of the Tuchodi River. The river is a hot spot for all types of outdoors activities, including boating, paddling, hunting and angling.

MacMillan Provincial Park & Cameron Lake: Cameron lake is bordered by MacMillan Provincial Park and Cathedral Grove on its West side and Cameron Lake Resort to the East. Cathedral Grove is a centuries old string of Douglas Firs, some of which are up to 29 ft around! Take a stroll through the trails in this amazing ecosystem, or head to the other side of the lake to Cameron Lake Resort. Enjoy boating, swimming and paddling activities.

Where to go fishing in British Columbia

BC’s Coastal geography, combined with its numerous freshwater lakes makes it a top-fishing destination. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a laid-back day at a local fishing hole, or a seasoned angler in search deep sea fishing adventure, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for.

For supreme freshwater fishing, within a few hours of Vancouver, make your way to Squamish River – one of BC’s top spots for wild steelhead. You’ll also find a variety of salmon, depending on the time of year.

For ocean fishing, catch the ferry out to Vancouver island. You can charter a boat straight from Victoria Harbour. Take the opportunity to reel in some serious fish, including halibut and salmon.

Trust us, fishing in BC is where it’s at! To get where you’re going, use Discover Boating’s Marina and Boat Launch finder. Before you cast a line, be sure to read and understand BC’s Freshwater Fishing Regulations and Offshore Fishing Regulations. British Columbia is an angler’s paradise with freshwater and offshore fishing opportunities for sturgeon, salmon and trout! So get out there and reel em’ in!