Unfortunately my family does not live in Victoria, but fortunately for them, I do! This means they have an excuse to visit multiple times a year. Having lived here for over four years now, it amazes me that Victoria is still providing me with new and exciting ways to entertain visitors. This past weekend, when my Dad flew in from Alberta, we decided to try something we haven’t experienced yet; we took to the open seas on a guided kayak tour. Originally thinking we would just rent kayaks and discover our own route, we looked out over the Inner Harbour to see fishing boats, ferries and float planes in every direction. Visions of becoming a speed bump for one of these bigger vessels flashed before our eyes and we simultaneously decided to seek out a guide. A little research landed us at Fisherman’s Wharf with a company called Kelp Reef, where we met our guide Katharine Palmer. Having spent many hours in a canoe, but none in a kayak, I was a little nervous. Katherine helped me through that by explaining the safety gear, winds, tides and most importantly, what to do if we flip. After the quick tutorial, we were all set to go. The launch at Kelp Reef allows kayakers to get in to the boat, adjust the rudders and strap in before ever touching the water. With everything in place, I launched into the water. Luckily I got my bearings and drifted to the next bay to wait for the other two. A little practice paddling and I felt like a pro, full of confidence and ready for adventure. We started our tour with a trip through the Inner Harbour. It was a great way for my Dad to learn a little history and provided great new views of Victoria’s landmarks. Paddling on beside the Johnson Street Bridge and around the harbour, we headed toward West Bay Marina. Here we discovered a floating community I didn’t even know existed and it’s only accessible by water! Next up was our most exciting challenge when we had to cross the wide harbour, racing to make it before an oncoming ship decided to squash us. Top the trip off with sightings of seals, otters, Great Blue herons, oystercatchers, deer and Bald Eagles and you have the makings of a truly awesome afternoon. Returning back to Fisherman’s Wharf two hours later, I was relieved we decided on taking a tour. Not only did we have some great instruction, direction and information, Katherine was also chatty and fun, feeling more like a part of our group than a guide. With a little knowledge under my belt, I now feel confident to venture out on my own next time, though I may take a guide again just for the fun of it. Victoria has many great kayak tour and rental shops. Be sure to check out our business directory and stop in to the Visitor Centre to find the right one for you!