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Though the weather’s a bit overcast and the sun’s not yet made its appearance on this fine August early afternoon, we’re in good spirits as Discover Boating Canada’s invited several media to lunch — on a boat!

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Both Discover Boating and Boating BC are actively educating British Columbians on fun (and safe) ways of enjoying your time on a boat.

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Whether you’re on a small speedboat or a grand yacht complete with bubbly, this is an all-Canadian activity sure to stick around: 12.4 million of us enjoyed leisurely time on a boat in 2015.

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Discover Boating is managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on behalf of the North American recreational boating industry.

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It may look pretty obvious, but BC is home to some of the best waterways in the world, counting lakes, rivers and ocean vistas among the range of options for boat enthusiasts.

Once you’ve secured a boat, here’s five must-visit spots to tick off your list.

Friendly Humpback whale encounter!
[A close encounter with a Humpback whale in Broken Islands]

BARKLEY SOUND

On the west coast of Vancouver Island between Ucluelet and Bamfield, Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands are one of three main recreational spots in Pacific Rim National Park. Great for diving, kayaking, fishing and hiking, this area is where we saw – on our wedding anniversary no less – a humpback whale a few meters away from our boat.

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[Salt Spring Island as seen from Hastings House]

GULF ISLANDS

The most visited region on our coast, the Gulf Islands contain over 200 islands filled with unique shorelines, a sub-Mediterranean climate, cozy passages and discoveries around every bend. It’s no wonder National Geographic Traveler named this one of the world’s best coastal destinations, perfect for powerboat, kayak, sailboat and canoe adventures.

Sturgeon Fraser River, BC
[Catching a sturgeon on the Fraser]

FRASER RIVER

Another beautiful spot, BC’s largest river system, Fraser River is home to one of the world’s largest White Sturgeon populations. An average of 20-50 million salmon also call the Fraser home. I was lucky enough to get up close to a Sturgeon during a fishing adventure with Ford Canada not too long ago. Nothing like putting your rod into the water and coming up with one of these catch-and-release-only beasts!

Bowen Island kayak trip 8/24/07
[Bowen Island Sea Kayaking rental]

HOWE SOUND

Accessible from both the Sunshine Coast and West Van, Howe Sound is perfect for a fishing excursion, kayak tour, cruise or boat rental. Even if you don’t own a boat, you can simply step off a BC Ferry at Snug Cove on Bowen Island, turn left and walk less than five minutes and be greeted with a kayak rental shop, making for a very accessible afternoon away from the office.

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OKANAGAN LAKE

With a span of 135 km, Okanagan Lake is a boater’s paradise — its waters are filled with houseboats, ski boats, sailboats, pedal boats, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards. Summertime temps range from 19 to 23 degrees C (69 to 71 F), perfect for a refreshing trip around the lake’s hidden coves and bays. You may even get lucky with an Ogopogo sighting.

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The options are endless, with many Canadians lucky enough to live less than an hour away from a body of water. And to top off the list of spots above, consider this: boating has been known to lower stress and boost a positive mindset.

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For a wealth of tips on how to get nautical, responsible boating, renting, chartering or financing a boat as well as boating activities, visit Discover Boating online.

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