With the longest coastline in the entire world at 243,042 km flanking three oceans and hundreds of thousands of lakes and rivers, Canada is a land defined by water. Get a new perspective on holiday sightseeing from the water—whether it’s from an ocean kayak, surfboard, river canoe or fishing boat.
Watching a play is one thing, but a floating theater is especially memorable. Narwal Northern Adventures puts on floating dinner drama evenings for a new perspective on Yellowknife. Paddle in 8.8-m voyageur canoes, then tuck into a traditional meal of buffalo soup watching dramatic reenactments of historic northern events.
In maritime Nova Scotia, longboard with East Coast Surf School or kitesurf in Halifax. Join cliffside yoga-plus-kayaking, glamping in the LaHave Islands or be a deckhand for a day on the Bluenose II. Kayak with North River Kayak to an island in Bras d’Or Lake, Canada’s largest inland sea, where your lighthouse-side dinner awaits.
The floe edge—where open ocean meets sea ice—is where Arctic wildlife gathers in Nunavut: Polar bears, single-tusked narwhal and beluga, walrus, seals and a massive array of sea birds. Snowmobile or dogsled to the edge in far-flung communities like Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Arctic Bay and Qikiqtarjuaq.
See BC’s wildlife from neon-blue Lake O’Hara in the Rockies or Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Provincial Park, a windsurf-waterski hot spot. Whitewater raft the Nahatlach River, sea-kayak past orcas on Vancouver Island or just take in the rugged scenery from a steamy natural hot springs.
Manitoba is home to 100,000 lakes. In Cree country, colour-shifting Little Limestone Lake is the largest, most dramatically hued marl lake on Earth—soon to be Manitoba’s newest national park. Elsewhere stand up paddleboard with belugas on the Churchill River estuary in calving season or tackle a multi-day canoe trip on the Bloodvein Canadian heritage river.
Laidback Grand Manan, the largest Fundy Island, is like a postcard for life in the slow lane. Kayak, boat tour, spot whales and peruse the herring smoke sheds of Seal Cove. Eat just-caught lobster and sample dulse (dried seaweed)—and drink in the views from a bungalow at 1816 Inn at Whale Cove Cottages.
Angling is big in Saskatchewan, home to 100,000 lakes and rivers, plus hulking walleye (8 kilogramers), 32-kg lake trout and northern pike 137 cm long. Pack your rod or hire an outfitter to show you the best fishing holes and serve you a mouthwatering shore lunch. Hot spots include Lake Athabasca, Cree Lake and Amisk Lake.
Paddling is quintessentially Canadian—and “Ontario,” with 400,000 lakes, rivers and waterways, is Iroquois for “land of shining waters.” Paddle historic voyageur routes and learn to canoe with three generations of pros in Quetico Provincial Park with Voyageur Wilderness Programme. Offerings include women-only excursions, romantic getaways, family trips and cultural backcountry adventures.
Atlantic Canada’s laidback Prince Edward Island is the place to get your paddle on. Waterways rolls out two days of ocean adventures: A sunrise paddle, technique workshops, downhome eats like lobster rolls, concerts and First Nations cultural displays. The gung-ho can tackle the 17-km paddle from Borden-Carleton to quaint Victoria-by-the-Sea.