Of Sunsets and Sea Lions: Kayaking the Broken Islands

Wower Island Broken GroupOur kayak rises and dips in the swells of the open Pacific. Waves break over the bow. Ahead of us, I watch other paddlers in our group disappear and reappear in the swells. We’re paddling the outside of Wower Island, at the outer edge of the Broken Group in Barkley Sound. We’re heading for two small islands where the stellar sea lions congregate. Ahead of us, out of the mist, the islands appear, and as we paddle closer we see the sea lions. They’re enormous, and loud, roaring at one another or perhaps at this motley group of kayakers paddling towards their rocks. And they smell. Words can’t describe how bad they smell. But the sight of these creatures, as they leap into the waves, or somehow pull their enormous girth back onto the rocks, is breathtaking.

Paddling in the Broken Group Islands

Kayaking the Broken Islands is Bucket List material for me. But crashing through the waves of the open Pacific isn’t quite what I’d been expecting. My vision of the Broken Islands is of paddling through the sheltered waters of the inner islands, of exploring deep, calm inlets and intertidal regions, of navigating through narrow channels between the hundred-odd islands in the Broken Group. And we’ve done that. For two days, we’ve enjoyed long paddles through calm waters in brilliant sunshine. We’ve camped on secluded beaches and watched magnificent sunsets. We’ve seen humpback whales, dolphins, seals, and river otters. We’ve been swimming in water warmer than I’ve encountered in this part of the world. And we’ve seen more beautiful vistas than we can count.

Paradise Beach Broken Group Islands

Turret Island Broken Group IslandsBut Matt and Travis of Majestic Ocean Kayaking are giving us the deluxe experience. They’ve given us the peace and solitude and calm of the inner islands. They’ve found secluded beaches, and quiet campsites on a busy long weekend. They’ve taken us each day into a different part of the Broken Group, giving us a real flavour of the area. It’s already been a great experience. But taking us out into the open Pacific, in the fog and wind and swells, taking us out of our comfort zone, taking us out around the sea lion rocks, they’ve given us an experience that is truly exhilarating. It’s an adventure that none of us will forget any time soon.

On our last day, as we paddle leisurely back towards Torquat Bay, where our kayaking adventure will end, we see across the channel a humpback whale and her baby. We stop to watch them as the surface and dive in unison, moving slowly closer to our little pod of kayaks. As we float together in the middle of the channel, the whales surface together not fifty meters from our boat. We watch in awe as their slick bodies roll slowly out of the water and back into the depths. It is a magical way to end our paddling adventure through the Broken Group.

Dawn in The Broken Group Islands


About Sally

Poet, seeker, author, mom. Celebrating the beauty and mystery that surrounds us and learning to trust in the journey.
This entry was posted in Living Deliciously, On Adventure, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Of Sunsets and Sea Lions: Kayaking the Broken Islands

  1. kp says:

    Wow….what a fabulous adventure…I would have to say that this kind of trip is on my bucket list but I have been too scared to follow through on it. Good for you…it sounds like a wonderful experience!! Kim

    • Thanks for dropping by, Kim! One of the women in our group celebrated her fiftieth birthday on the trip; she’d been thinking about it since she was 40, and had been working up the courage to sign up for a number of years. I think she finished the trip feeling like she could take on anything!

      • 50 years young says:

        Just to clarify, it wasn’t courage that I needed to sign up for the trip but instead a lack of guilt. It was a trip I wanted to take on my own, which didn’t sit well with others. I decided that my 50th birthday was a good excuse to celebrate it the way that mattered to me. Besides, I don’t like doing things the conventional way and what a way to celebrate my youth!

      • And it takes courage to to speak up for what you want and need in your life. I was inspired by you!

  2. Oh, no way! I paddled there with my family when I was a kid and they fell in love with it like nobody’s business! Did you happen to come upon any seals? How about all those Moon Snail secretions? Did you see any of those? I kept thinking a pottery ship ran aground or something 😉

  3. Brigitte says:

    Oh my, this post was feast for the senses! What fun you must have had. I’ve never done this; the closest thing was floating the Ocoee (white water rafting) several years ago, but of course I didn’t get to sea the magnificence of dolphins, whales and sea lions! What a great thing to tick off your bucket list and a beautiful memory that will last forever. Thanks for sharing.

  4. L. Palmer says:

    Gorgeous photos. I live in Southern California, and get the other end of migration of the sea lions, whales, and other wonders of the sea. It’s always nice to see the coast from another angle.

    • Hi Laura, thank you for dropping by! You get the warm end of the coast 🙂

      • L. Palmer says:

        Though the weather can be warm, the water’s not. Visitors go in the water and discover the hard way that our current comes down from the arctic.
        Average land temperature: 75 F
        Average water temperature: 55-65 F
        Not freezing, but cold when you first step in and you’re only wearing a bathing suit.
        I’m sure the water’s still warmer than as far north as you are.
        Thanks for stopping by my blog too!

  5. Marianne says:

    Fantastic adventure. Where to next?

    Oh boy, sea lions really do smell, don´t they?! I recall that unmistakeable whiff drifting across from Pier 39 in San Francisco!

  6. Pingback: The Magic of a Wild Beach | afternoonstorm

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