Kayaking the Sunshine Coast 

Nowhere can you experience summer more keenly than in a sea kayak on the Sunshine Coast.

Late spring is imbued with the expectancy of summer's imminent appearance. Nowhere can you experience that more keenly than in a sea kayak on the Sunshine Coast.

Mountains and sunlight reflect off the ocean in flashes of chrome as you drift along. Beneath the surface, clarity reigns. An orange sea urchin looks close enough to touch. In truth, the globe of spines sits a paddle length below. Reach down and your kayak will roll just enough to momentarily seem about to tip. Pull back as you snap out of a spell cast by the scene's overpowering magic.

Although the Sunshine Coast is visible from Vancouver's western beaches, the Sechelt and Malaspina peninsulas, which dominate this semi-isolated stretch of the Lower Mainland, seem a world apart.

No need to pack a passport. All that's required to experience the tangible essence of this rarefied cosmos is the will to travel an hour or so beyond your back yard. How hard is that, especially when the rewards are guaranteed to send you home with a whole new peace of mind?

Before you begin to think that you'll somehow have to rough it to achieve this sense of release, consider this: life is challenging enough when you're coping with the pressures of urban living. As soon as you disembark on the Sunshine Coast, you'll sense a soothing difference.

There's more room to breathe-not just between you and others with whom you share the road, but in the whole realm of nature that spreads before you. Take your time. With the Coast Mountains rising sharply from the shoreline, the inclination here is not so much to explore vertically but to put out to sea in a small watercraft and explore the sheltered bays and inlets.

No boat? No experience? With plenty of local outfitters and guides, sourcing equipment and directions is hardly an issue, particularly between mid-May and the soon to be heightened demands of summer vacationers. In fact, there are numerous natural incentives to undertake a paddle excursion right now while spring is still in full swing.

When contacted by Pique , both Paul Hansen of West Coast Wilderness Lodge in Egmont and Adam Vallance of Powell River Sea Kayak pointed out that the spring bird migration appears to be happening later this year than usual. As well, California sea lions and whelping harbour seals are everywhere in evidence.

When reached by phone at his company's sea-kayak base on Okeover Arm near Powell River, Vallance was still buzzing about a recent appearance by several orcas. "Even though historically orcas used to feed here on salmon before local rivers were dammed for hydroelectric generation, this is the first time in the 16 years I've been here that I recall them visiting. That stirs up optimism in me."

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