Sechelt Inlet is a paddler's paradise only two hours from downtown Vancouver. While most visitors to the Sunshine Coast follow Highway 101 up the rugged and beautiful east shore of Georgia Strait, surprisingly few are aware of the solitude and natural beauty that awaits them on the inlet side of Sechelt Peninsula.
Sechelt Inlet is protected from wind and waves that are common on open ocean waters by high surrounding mountains. Mornings and evenings are typically calm and peaceful with lush green mountains reflecting off of the tranquil blue ocean surface. As there are no roads beyond the village of Tuwanek, which means that the wilderness and exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities are abundant.
Sechelt Inlet is blessed with many sand and gravel beaches, eight of which have been designated Wilderness Marine Parks and offer excellent rustic overnight camping facilities with such "luxuries" as year round fresh water, clear tenting areas and tent pads, outhouses, fire rings, and warm swimming beaches. Campers on the east shore of the Inlet are treated to spectacular evening sunsets while west shore campers enjoy the warming rays of early morning sun with their coffee.
While there are many possible paddling routes in Sechelt Inlet that including launching at the boat ramp right at the base of the Inlet in Sechelt (next to Halfmoon Sea Kayaks) or Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, the quickest paddle to remote areas is going to be found by launching in Tuwanek. There is a public beach access and a few parking spaces at Lamb's Bay (see Map below), which is a great launching beach for kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards.
Once you launch, you'll paddle out of Lamb's Bay and to the right (north) and continue following the coastline. Dotted with several small islands, this area is generally very calm and provides pristine viewing for small marine life such as starfish, crabs, jellyfish, sea birds, and eagles. Once you pass through the islands and past the community of Tuwanek, you'll cross a large bay on your right as you aim for the point of land straight ahead. In windy conditions, you can hug the shoreline for better shelter and easier paddling. Once you reach the point-- you'll see it's actually an island with a small channel between the island and the mainland. This channel is almost completely sheltered from wind and waves so it creates the perfect resting point. The water here is also very shallow and once again, provides excellent viewing of small marine life. In the surrounding area you are also likely to see harbour seals and, on rarer occasion, porpoises, dolphins, or even orca whales.
Should you wish to paddle farther, the Marine Parks continue to dot the coastline of Sechelt Inlet and offer an excellent wilderness escape. When you are ready to journey home, be aware the on typical summer afternoons, the wind blows northward up the inlet and can create a strong headwind when paddling back south to Tuwanek. Your best bet is to plan your paddling earlier in the morning or later in the evening (but not too late!).
Thanks to Pedals and Paddles for help writing this article.