Broken Group Islands Kayaking
The Broken Group Islands , a unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, are a cluster of about 100 islands in Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The natural beauty, cultural and environmental significance of this location led to Parks Canada declaring The Broken Group Islands a protected area in early 1970's.
With many lagoons and small, intimate harbors, touring around the group can be magical. The inner islands are home to a rich and vibrant selection of marine life, not seen in other areas along the coast. The exposed, outer Islands are abundant with caves, blow holes, colonies of California and Stellar sea lions, roaring aloud over the distance.
Midden beaches and archaeological remnants hint at the 4,000 year First Nations history. There is a reason why these islands are talked about the world over as a sea kayaking and sailing destination.
Activity Level Mild to Moderate
Group Size Medium
Dates and Prices
We know the range of dates we are requesting from Parks, but won't have confirmation of any dates until March, 2023.Book Now
- Day 1 Pick up and travel to Secret Beach
Nanaimo, Vancouver Island Nanaimo is a good choice if you are looking for less travel time on the first and last day of the trip. Nanaimo acts as the link that "closes the loop" for our trip, it is the perfect pick up and drop off location. Also a good choice if you are planning to stay on Vancouver Island. **Pick UP** – The ferry from the mainland will land around 10am. The Guide team will do a first pick up at the ferry terminal at 10:30am, followed by a Nanaimo hotel pick up between 10:30-11am. The ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay on Vancouver Island is approximately 1.5 hours. We will drive to Secret Beach Campsite in Toquaht Bay, were we will unload and set up camp for the night. On route we will stop in Port Alberni for lunch. There will be an opportunity to purchase a few last minute items if necessary. We will plan to include a few cultural stops on route, the first being a visit to the Tseshaht First Nations Cultural Centre, where we will have the opportunity to learn about the Tseshaht people, who once inhabited the islands of the Broken Group and Barkley Sound. On arrival at Secret Beach we will first stop to pay for launch fees, camping permits, and parking. Once we have set up camp the remainder of the afternoon will cover topics such as fitting you to your kayak, camping etiquette, safety during tour, camp set up, packing for kayaking (transfer personal items to dry bags) and group/individual expectations. Depending upon conditions and time, we may go for a short harbour paddle to familiarize you with kayaks and paddle strokes.
- Day 2 Into the Broken Group
Pack kayaks, review kayak safety, paddle strokes and launch. Our route will be from Secret Beach, Toquart Bay first to Hand Island, a possible lunch stop, then on to one of the other inner islands, where we will set up camp, then spend more time exploring, either in kayaks or tide pools, or simply relaxing after the mornings paddle. Discuss options for the next day.
- Day 3-5 Paddling in the Group
There are many options for kayaking once within the Broken Group. These usually combine camping in one location for a few nights and exploring surrounding islands and waterways, and moving camp to explore mid or outer islands. The itinerary on these days is dependent on sea conditions, group goals and considerations. Most days begin with a cooked breakfast, then paddle and explore the eslands. LUNCH will be Relaxed, on the beach somewhere, and Paddle some more. The afternoons can bring stiff winds in the Broken Group meaning that it is likely we will not be kayaking during this time, unless in protected waters. This makes this time more appropriate for: Time to relax /explore tide pools/ beach. DINNER then discuss the Plan for next day.
It is possible that we will have the opportunity on one of the days to visit Nettle Is. ,one of the First Nations Islands, where a traditionally cooked Salmon meal is available for $35 per plate (2017)(not included in price of tour). Naturally for those who do not wish for this experience, or do not eat fish there will be an alternative meal provided by Coastal Bliss Adventures.
- Day 6 Back to Secret Beach and Nanaimo
Our route will take us back to Secret Beach, Toquart Bay, by mid-day. We will unload and load kayaks and gear, then enjoy a picnic lunch before traveling back to our various drop off locations. We will make one or two comfort stops on route to Nanaimo, and if there is interest and time permits we will stop at a local Tsesharht carver and artists studio.
Note: Our paddling itinerary is subject to wind and weather and other conditions, and while a tentative plan can be made, final plans and routes may change at any given time. Guides will discuss objectives with guests, however, the final route and daily plans will be made by the lead guide.
Travel Note: Usually we would be back in Nanaimo between 5 – 7pm, however, as there are many factors that can affect the timing of our last day we request that if you are flying out of Nanaimo or Vancouver, that you book your flight for the day following our return, late enough that it would be possible to take a ferry from Nanaimo in the morning and still catch your flight.
inclusions and exclusions at a glance
- Transportation from the point of origin and return
- Sea kayaks and gear (pfd, paddle, spray skirt, etc.)
- Dry bags for your clothing and sensitive gear
- Snacks/beverages on the expedition
- All meals while on the kayaking portion**
- Meal preparation
- Camping fees
- Exceptional guides for entire journey
- Cooking gear/camp stoves/water filtration
- Tents & tarps
- Emergency radio/satellite phone/major first aid supplies
- We can provide sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and booties for rent
- Transportation to point of origin, transfers, personal equipment, accommodation and food other than included in the itinerary.
- Gratuities are not included. Our guides make every effort to ensure your holiday is all you expected and more. Recognition of a job well done is always appreciated; $10-20/day per guide is recommended.
Vancouver Many of the major North American carriers fly into Vancouver or alternately, Seattle. Check with your travel agent for options. There is a bus service, Quick Shuttle , from Seattle's airport to hotels in Vancouver. These run daily and are reasonably priced. For more information, in North America, phone 1/800/665-2122 or 1/604/940-4428 – Fax 1/604/940-4429. Check the link regarding shuttles and other airport information.
Nanaimo Several bigger carriers fly into Nanaimo, usually after a change in Vancouver. Check with your travel agent for options that take you all the way to Nanaimo. Alternatively, the Horseshoe Bay ferry in West Vancouver sails to Departure Bay, Nanaimo. The Tsawwassen ferry terminal also has sailings to the Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo.
You don't need to have paddled before. Experience helps, but we will show you everything you need along the way. Our guides will assist you and teach you basic paddling skills.
In Canada, where are there NOT bugs? Fortunately, we are not deep in the forest or muskeg, where the mosquitoes and/or blackflies cover you like a blanket. Typically, if there is a breeze, there are no bugs. If it is calm, there are bugs. On the actual west coast, there are relatively few mosquitos and no-seeums, but some. It is helpful to have a bug net for your head and some bug spray with you.
There is never an intention for you to flip and get soaked, but sometimes it happens. We provide you with dry bags for your clothing and gear. We also show you how to properly use them to make sure your things stay dry.
Tips, or gratuities, are not mandatory. However, please consider what service is actually being given to you. While you might think that the company should just pay the guides better, it is not so simple. We do work in a competitive market, and pay rates are a function of the trip prices. If we could double prices, we would pay guides significantly better. At Sea to Sky, we have some of the better pay rates in the industry, and we are always pushing our competitors to increase pay rates for guides, but there is only so much we can do. Guides are seasonal workers. They shift off of their summer season to winter activities, or fill in with retail work, which is usually little more than minimum wage, often to periods of no work between seasonal jobs. It is a hard job, and wearing on the body.
The guides carry most of the group gear, so they have heavier loads than you have, all for you, because they would not be carrying much of the extras on a personal trip. Your guides are teaching you, helping you through challenges, cooking for you and serving you your meals, providing a safety envelope for you, and if you have a really good guide, they are filling you up with a deeper experience of being in the place you are visiting by telling you about the flora, fauna and history of the place.
So, how much should you tip your guides?
If you ate every meal out in a day, at a good, but low-cost restaurant, you would probably tip between $10 and $15 per day. If you were travelling and visiting a city and ate all your meals out, this is about how much you would tip for the day, low end. I would submit that the guides are feeding you all three meals in a day, AND serving you in so many more ways. That makes $10-$15 a day a minimum consideration, really. 10% to 15% of a trip price has been another rule of thumb that has been used. If your trip price is $2000, then $200 to $300 split between the guides is reasonable, and falls within that standard. Like most humans, guides are motivated when they are recognized and valued.
Your circumstances matter. If you are a student and clearly struggled to put together the cost of the trip, or have other circumstances that limit your ability to tip, guides understand and honour your appreciation, no matter what the size. However, if you have a large income or high net worth and means, a small tip might be a slap in the face. If you have means and you clearly and vocally appreciated the guides and all they did, and then leave a $50 tip after a 7 to 9 day trip, that amount would probably be insulting. If you have a fairly large income or net worth, you likely spend it on higher end restaurants, and maybe higher cost wine, drinks or desserts. You might even give a $50 tip for a dinner meal out-for ONE meal, so just consider your ability to tip and the level of service you received over the whole trip.
The largest tip any of our guides has received from one person is $1,500.00 for a 9-day trip. This was highly unusual, and was because we went way out of the way to replace her boots in the middle of the trail because her boots were falling apart, and was on top of paying for the boots and the transport out to the trail. That was extraordinary service, and an extraordinary tip. On average, guides usually receive about $75 to $125 from each guest for each guide.
At Sea to Sky, we also split the tips between the lead and assistant guides, and proportionally with any drivers. We have a strong culture of teamwork and both the lead and assistant guides play essential roles for you, so we ensure both share equally in the tips for the trip. Tips are not shared or taken by owners and managers not on your trip, unless you send it separately and specify it is for service before or after a trip.