To Freya Hoffmeiser, circumnavigating Vancouver Island might seem like child’s play in comparison to circling an entire continent—which is why she recommends it as a great trip for budding expedition kayakers. Paddlers experience old-growth rain forests, empty stone beaches, and pods of orcas in blissful solitude—but they also encounter tidal currents, wild storms, and large swells. “It’s a beautiful remote paddling trip,” says Hoffmeister. “It’s got beautiful wildlife and scenery.”
The good news is that paddling a section of the island requires considerably less time and kayaking experience—and is just as gorgeous. Try Spirit of the West Adventures’ six-day Johnstone Strait Expedition, which bites off a section of Vancouver Island’s protected northeastern waters. While weaving through the tiny islets of the Broughton Archipelago, kayakers spot bears foraging on the shores, paddle alongside humpbacks, and hear the orcas’ call. Come evening, they camp on desolate beaches near the white-shell middens of some of the continent’s first human inhabitants.
Spirit of the West Adventures' six-day Johnstone Strait Expeditions cost $1,495 Canadian.
After ten years of competitive gymnastics, five years of competitive bodybuilding, and working as the first German female tandem skydiving pilot with 500 jumps, Freya Hoffmeister turned her passion to kayaking. With her characteristic can-do spirit, she has since circumnavigated Iceland, New Zealand’s South Island, and, in 2010, became the second person ever to circle Australia.