Camping and Kayaking at Porteau Cove

Susannah and I love camping. We also love kayaking. Unfortunately these days we don’t get to do either very often. We had a camping trip planned for Spring but had to cancel at the last minute. Then it was summer and all the campgrounds were booked up. Finally, after the September long weekend, we got the opportunity to go camping for 5 nights at Porteau Cove Provincial Park.

Porteau Cove is our favourite local camping spot. It’s only a 45 minute drive from Vancouver which means if we have to pop back to the city we can. It’s also located at the edge of a Marine Park and has great wildlife viewing.

The Park has 60 sites – 44 drive-in and 16 walk-in. We’ve stayed at several different sites and definitely have our favourites. We were stoked to be able to book one of the best sites in the walk-in campground. We like it because it’s at the end of the campground so only has one neighbour. There’s also an additional area next to the designated site that we can spread out in.

Our little campsite

Surprisingly, the walk-in campground was not busy. Almost every day the entire walk-in area cleared out and we had it to ourselves for a few hours before a few new campers moved in.

An empty campground is rare in BC

Almost to ourselves anyway…

This Stellar Jay was very cheeky

The weather was a mixed bag and while it rained quite a lot, we were treated to some fantastic sunny and even hot periods between storms. We were able to get out on the water quite a bit and paddle around the Coast.

The perspective you get from the water is completely different from the view from the beach and you can feel like you are the only people there.

Kayaking is good for marine mammal watching.

Can you spot the seal?

As well as accessing unknown beaches.

The campground is very long so if you walk from one end to the other you’ll be treated to some great views down Howe Sound and with the ever changing weather it’ll look very different each time. The misty BC look is one of my favourites.

Susannah in her happy place

Once or twice a day a train runs along the adjacent train tracks and it’s super noisy, but apart from that we found our September camping trip to be quite quiet. We spent time exploring, beach combing and watching the world go by.

A rock display left by one beach comber
Looking very Autumnal

There was a film crew working on the water and at the dock which was entertaining to watch. This boat sped in and out delivering people and gear to the set on the water.

Porteau Cove and the view of Anvil Island will always a very special place for us. We hope to visit again soon.

Kayaking at Bowen Island

A few years ago Susannah and I decided to get away from the city for awhile so we moved to Bowen Island. We found an amazing house on the West Side of the Island, not far from Bowen Bay. In the Fall, not long after we moved, I had a medical procedure for back problems and at the same time, I came off some pretty hardcore prescription pain medicine. Our location on the Island was very quiet and peaceful, so it was a great place to recover and recuperate. We went for long walks in the forest, enjoyed watching deer hanging out in the backyard and saw the most amazing sunsets at the beach. After 6 months, we reluctantly decided it was time to move back to the City, so in the Spring our Island adventure came to an end.

One thing we never had a chance to do while on Bowen was kayak, so after we moved back to Vancouver we decided to revisit on a day trip. For my birthday we went back to Bowen Island and across to Bowen Bay. After launching we had to choose to paddle left or right. We headed to the right with the intention of sticking to the coastline but then we heard something amazing.

Across the water, floated a sound of deep exhalation. And again. We looked over the water and spotted a dorsal fin of and Orca as it surfaced. Then another. Then another. We changed our course and headed towards Pasley Island. There appeared to be 3-4 Killer Whales swimming not too far off the Coast.

We were very careful not to get too close (all images here are taken with a long zoom lens). Canadian law states that any vessel should stay 100m away from whales. We paddled to about that distance and then stopped to observe. It was hard to tell where they were going to surface and for awhile they seemed to be heading West but then an Orca surfaced unexpectedly close to us. So close in fact that Susannah had to reverse paddle to retain a respectable distance between us and them.


Orca tailslapping

The sound they made when surfacing to exhale was amazing. Watching them was incredible. There was one large male whose huge dorsal fin was quite intimidating.


We quietly watched them for about an hour before they headed out into open water and we paddled back to the beach.

After a bit of a rest and some “OMG” debriefing time we ventured out again and to the left. This time we were treated to some cool bird life.

Belted Kingfisher (female)



We returned to the beach to watch the sunset and then headed down to Snug Cove to grab some food before catching the ferry home.

An experience like this is totally random and lucky (we could have paddled left and not seen them at all!) and I am incredibly grateful for receiving it. It was a magical day and definitely a birthday to remember.

We took our own kayaks but there are rental kayaks available at Snug Cove. Bown Island Sea Kayaking offers lessons, rentals and guided tours from April till October. Have a go – I’m sure you’ll love it!