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Summer 2017

Monday- Carlos Island Picnic- 6:30-9:30 pm -$ 25 (BYO-Picnic Dinner) Paddle out to Carlos Island, off Silva Bay, to have a picnic while the sunsets over Georgia Straight.

Wednesday- Sunset Paddle- 6:30-9:00pm - $25 Fun, social tour exploring the shoreline of the Flat Top Islands while checking out harbor seals, eagles and much more.

Friday- Sunset Paddle- 6:30-9:00pm - $25 Fun, social tour exploring the shoreline of the Flat Top Islands while checking out harbor seals, eagles, and much more.

Saturday- 3-Hour-Tour – 2:30- 5:30 pm - $55 (kids $40) Take the morning to check out the Farmer’s Market, and then come down to Silva Bay for a 3-hour guided kayak tour. Explore the shoreline and head to an island with time to beachcomb or swim, before we paddle back to the dock.


Youth Kayaking Adventure Camps (ages 8+) daily 9:30am – 2:30pm

Beginner Kayaking Camps- $275 July 3-7- and- July 17-21 –and- August 7-11

Intermediate Kayaking Camps- $285 July 10-14, -and- July 24-28 and- August 14-18

Advanced Kayaking Camps- $385 (includes 2 day trips, and 2 nights camping) July 31-August 4 –and- August 21-25

Weekly Events for Summer 2016

Summer 2016


Weekly Events 2016:

Mondays Paddle & Picnic: 6:30-9pm $20 BYO-picnic! We will paddle out to Carlos Island, one of the Flat Top Islands to have a picnic, everyone can bring their own food or snacks. The sunsets are amazing over Georgia Straight, then we'll paddle back to the dock by 9pm.

Thursdays Sunset Yoga & Kayaking: 6:30-9pm $30  Yoga Instructor and Sea Kayak Guide, Danielle Artuso, will paddle with you out to a beach, where on the smooth sandstone rocks a one-hour yoga class will take place during sunset looking out at the Salish Sea!

Fridays Sunset Paddle: 6:30- 9pm $25

Saturdays 3 Hour Tour: 1:30-4:30pm $55 (Kids $45) Just enough time Saturday morning to check out Gabriola's Farmer's Market then get down to the South End to enjoy an afternoon paddling excursion around Silva Bay, visiting different islands, seeing harbour seals and other wildlife. Head on over to Silva Bay Pub & Restaraunt for Happy Hour discounts from 4:30-5:30 if you've participated in this kayak tour. What a perfect Gabriola Summer day! 


Weekly events include your choice of Sea Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard for these guided tours.

NO RESERVATIONS NECESSARY, drop in 15 min before each event starts. But if you have questions, or a large group call 250-247-8939. 

BYO-Boat = FREE: if you have your own kayak come join our weekly event for a social, fun paddle for FREE!

We accept credit cards, cash, cheque or e-transfer. Tax is included in the price.



Stand Up Paddleboarding with Killer Whales!

 On one of my Stand Up Paddleboard tours with Silva Bay Kayak Adventures, I was paddling with a friend who had never been on a stand up paddle board before.  She got the hang of it right away, and the conditions were good, so we paddle out to see the harbour seals on the outer islands.  


We were paddling along the outer shore of Gaviola and Acorn Islands and saw a group of transient orca whales in the distance. This was exciting, even though we were a long way away! So we continued paddling in the direction the group of 7 or 8 whales were headed, but at this point they were way off on the horizon. With a fleet of whale watching boats following behind them, it was obvious which way they were going. As we paddled, we discussed the difference between resident orcas and transient orcas, and my friend shared her recent whale sighting in early July at the north end of Gabriola. As a naturalist guide, and uber whale geek, I started spouting off facts because I was excited. For me, even seeing whales head off on the horizon, gets me stoked. I love any sighting and am thankful for the oportunity to be in the right place at the right time! It's so fun to be in the same water as large marine mammals, and interacting with them makes you feel alive and connected to the web of life!  As a kayak guide for over 10 years, I have had a lot of whale sightings, it's the perks of working in this industry! I love studying whale's behavioural ecology, thier interactions and social structure is facinating. Orca whales can be found in all corners of the worlds oceans. This is a great poster from noaa. 

I knew that this group of whales were transient orcas because they were hunting seals. Resident orcas, primarily found in large family pods around Juan de Fuca Straight and Johonstone Straight, feed on Spring Salmon, and do not frequent our area of Georga Straight off of Gabriola. So it was an easy assumption that we were looking at a group of Transients, the killer whales. 

As we paddled the shore of acorn island, we observed in the distance that they were circling a rock off of Tugboat Island where a group of seals were. This photo is an arial shot of the Flat Top Islands, off of Silva Bay. The right side of this picture is a reef with a white navigation light, this is where the whales were circling the seals. 

The whales were tail slapping, circling up the seals, breatching; displaying great hunting behaviour! They circled the reef, diving through the ball of seals, each 30 foot adult whale took turns eating. These efficient killers we showing off thier skill and strength. These kind of sightings are amazing, and awe inspiring no matter if you're on the deck of a whale whatching boat, or bare foot on a paddleboard! Then just as fast as it started, the whales were moving on.

We were still a long ways away, enjoying the experience. Quickly analizing the situation I decided that with all the whale watching tour boats lined up along Saturnina Island that if the whales were to move locations they might head towards us. I felt the whales were boxed in by the loud motor boats, and by the shorlines of Tugboat and Sear Islands. This was no good because there was a seal haul out rock that is part of the Brant reefs on our left,  and seals swimming in the water along the shore of Acorn Island to our right. This exact location that we happily stood observing the orcas feed in the distance was turing out to be a risky spot to float.  I knew that we had to get out of there, and going to shore on Acorn Island didin't seem safe with the harbour seals there. So we decided to paddle across Commodore Passage to Tugboat Island and get out of the orca's way.

Half way across the channel on the paddle boards we watched the Orcas split into two groups, the juveniles and females, a group of about five individuals, headed out towards georga straight and the Brant reefs. At this point I got my iphone out of my pocket and snapped a few picture of the group of females and juveniles, as we stood floating in the middle of the channel. These pictures were aweful because the whales were way in the distance, travelling fast. I looked up from my phone and the two large males who had been spy hopping and circling the seal rock, were now starting to travel our way. We sprinted to the rocks! No joke, all the hairs on my body stood up! As I paddled as hard as I could, I told my friend to not worry about beaching the board, just making sure she stepped off onto the rocks safely. This all happened in seconds... we stepped off our board into ankle deep water, barefoot on the sea weed covered rocks. At that moment we were on stable ground, the whales were right beside us! Crusing with precision, the huge male was right  along the rock shelf, in as shallow water as he could manage without actually beaching. He was 10 feet from me the huge 27 foot long male surfaced checking me out slowly! It was amazing! And I was happy to be on shore not on my paddleboard! 

The second I landed I swung around, whipping out my phone to snap these four pictures:

The first photo I took was of this guy just cresting the surface of the water! The speed and strength to come up right next to me in the shallow water!

Seeing the whole of his body through the clear water and the height of his dorsal fin out of the water, I felt like he was staring me down, his eye locked on me! He was blatently checking me out! 

This is the second male, he surfaced just off shore from where the first whale was, he was probaly 20 feet away from me in deeper water. 

Then they both dove down, and rose up further offshore, heading northwest down Commodore Passage, and out to Georgia Straight. The one on the right is the bigger male, who had just been right beside me! It's even impressive how big they are from a distnace, let alone 10 feet from me! 

The following day I was on my facebook, checking on The Orca Network's updates. Opening thier website I found a photo from one of the whale watching boats, of me and my friend on our paddleboards, and the two whales! Look in this picture it shows me balancing my paddle, while taking a photo of the other group of whales, and I didn't realize the two big males were headded right for me!

And there was an accurate description provided by the person on the whale watching boat who had been observing this group of transients through out the day of August 15th. They can identify each indivdual by the marking of the white saddle patch behind thier dorsal fins. So this lady knew exactly which Transient individuals had been the curous ones checking us out! Here is what she posted on the sightings archive: 

'T100 and T124 .... they headed straight for two paddle boarders, causing them to paddle like they've never paddled before for the safety of land. T100 and T124 ever so casually cruised right along the rocks where the two girls were collapsed on the rocks, their legs having clearly given out from fear... it was awesome.' - Tasli Shaw

So since that momentus afternoon paddleboarding, I have been researching transient's behavour and have found that they are highly territorial creatures. In the past when I have been in kayaks next to orcas, the orcas never showed interest in us, yet on the paddle board they specifically came to check us out. I feel that sitting in a kayak, I'm 2 feet from the surface of the water, so we don't look at all like the silluette of another orca. But standing up on the paddleboard I am 5.5 feet off the water, similar height to a large male orca's fin (1.6 m is the avarage male's dorsal fin). So my new theory is that the transient orcas thought we could be two other orca whales in thier hunting territory. And when you think about what a paddle board with a person looks like, it is so similar to an orca surfacing. I hope to test this thoery another time while paddleboarding around the seal haul out rocks of Silva Bay. You never know when you're going to be in the right place at the right time!

Happy Paddling,

Hilary Masson

Guide and Owner — at Silva Bay Kayak Adventures

Summer Reflections 2013

The Summer of 2013 has been an amazing year for Silva Bay Kayak Adventures! It's been full of amazing people joining us on our tours, spectacular weather, and magic wildlife encounters.   



Reflecting back on all of this there are some special moments I wanted to highlight. Starting with all our our friends who joined us on our Baja tours who came up to Gabriola to check out our summer operation. During our expeditions in Mexico we often talk about how amazing our home, Gabriola, is. So with all the stories, and anecdotes about our Gulf Island lifestyle, various groups of friends decided to paddle with us in Canada.

We started with May long weekend and a group of ladies from Whidby Island. Although the San Juans are close by, and similar to the Gulf Islands, the ladies loved Gabriola and our unique artsy culture and vibe! They also loved the paddling around the Flat Top Islands off of Silva Bay.



Our second group of visitors was a reunion of a group of ladies that came to Baja in February. Two women from Berkley California came with their daughters, two women form Victoria joined us, and another women from Gabriola. So we enjoyed the nice spring weather, walking in most of the parks on Gabriola, and paddling around Silva Bay. This was end of June, the weekend of Summer Solstice. Every year we like to turn one of our weekly Sunset Tours into a special solstice picnic potluck dinner. So it was perfect timing for our guests to join in on this tradition, and for them to meet some other local friends who also share the love for kayaking. 

We paddled out and around the Flat Tops, with calm seas, and the sun breaking out of some high clouds. Finishing on Carlos Island, which is situated perfectly for viewing the sunset to the west. The white oyster shell beach on Carlos was a great setting for our picnic. I paddle boarded that evening, so I used the surf board as a table for our picnic. Everyone brought amazing food to share, we had a great spread!



It was fun for old and new friends to connect, sharing food is such a great way to celebrate the coming of summer. The sunset was great with the sky opening up to the northwest.


A favorite moment of mine was exploring around Carlos Island checking out the wildflowers. End of June is perfect timing for seeing all the local native wildflowers, and if you know me, you know how obsessed I am with identifying them. Carlos has a good diversity for such a tiny island. I found sea blush, monkey flower, blue camas, wild trailing blackberry, yerba buena, heal all, stone crop, and yarrow.

     Summer Solstice is one of my favorite times of year, especially because of the wildflowers! 


Our third group of Baja clients who came to visit us on Gabriola, were a family from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The final Baja tour of the season, the Loreto to La Paz tour had a group of firemen from Saskatoon who loved paddling, and had a great time. That guys getaway to Baja left a few of them planning their next paddling trips with their family for the summer, and Gabriola seemed like the perfect next destination. Partly because I run Youth Outdoor Leadership summer Camps, and partly because the paddling in the gulf Islands is so idyllic, is why this was a great fit. So the family road tripped across the prairies, over the Rockies and down to the west coast, with their kayaks and camping gear in tow. The son fit right in with my kids camp, enthusiastically joining in all the games and activities. He especially liked learning about marine weather, tides, currents, and marine navigation. This was his first time paddling in the ocean, rather than on lakes and rivers in the prairies. While their son was in my day camp, the parents got to paddle on their own exploring the Flat Tops at a leisurely rate. We also had some nice sunset paddling with the whole family as well! 

The summer from there on was filled with kids camps every week, and our weekly events. We did a few youth camping expeditions throughout the summer, where the participants choose their own route plan, picking what camps sites they want to stay at, picking the times to go through the tidal rapids of Gabriola Passage, and navigating all on their own. The camping trips are always fun, with the youth doing all the meal planning and provisioning on their own!



  On the first camping trip in June, there was no red tide, so the kids were excited to harvest shellfish. We collected oysters, manilia clams, and cockles. Being June, we could still have fires, before the dry hot weather and usual fire bans happen. So we steamed open the oysters over the fire, and steamed the clams in a pot over the fire as well. The kids were excited about harvesting thier own food, learning about different species of shellfish, and which ones are edible and how to prepare them. But a few of them had never tasted an oyster before, so I was surprised when all of them loved the flavor and texture! None of them were grossed out, which for picky 11 year old boys, was amazing! 



Camping on Valdez Island is always a highlight, the kids love jumping off rocks into the water, and the sunset view from the top of the cliffs. Hole in the Wall is such a great camp site, and favorite of the kids, I understand why they wanted to stay there two nights in a row!  I was happy to find the site clean, and well maintained, with a new picnic table prefect for setting up our propane stove. The youth camping trips are a favorite of mine, as these memories, and new skills, will stick with the particiants for the rest of thier lives!

All in all, it was a busy, successful summer at Silva Bay!

Happy Paddling,

Hilary Masson

Local Kayakers Rally to Oppose Supertankers

Calling All Kayakers! 

Join us in a kayak rally to oppose the use of Supertankers on the BC coast!

On July 22, during the Nanaimo Bathtub Race weekend, S.O.S. “Save Our Shores” and Silva Bay Kayak Adventures are hosting an Anti-Supertanker Kayak Rally in Departure Bay. The event will take place a 12:00 Noon at the waterfront park in Departure Bay. A large group of kayakers and other non-motorized boats are going to paddle out into the bay and take the shape of a supertanker to demonstrate their immense size.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about the potential threat that oil tankers could pose to the British Columbia coastal environment.” Says event organizer and kayak guide, Ryan Masson. “Kayakers and other boaters appreciate how lucky we are to live in and enjoy paddling in this amazing environment. Just the other day I saw both a pod of Orcas and a Humpback whale just off of here, this is what we're trying to protect.”These Supertankers could pose one of the biggest threats yet to be seen on this part of the British Columbia coast. They are 1850 feet long, as long as the empire state building is tall, and half a football field wide, they can travel at up to 18 mph when fully loaded. However, in the event of an emergency stop it takes a loaded supertanker over 3 kilometers to come to a complete stop, they require almost 2 kilometers to make a full turn, and require water at least 33 meters deep. Yet there a plans to bring these huge ships up the narrow channels and fjords to Kitimat, on the central coast. Many parts of the proposed route to Kitimat are full of hazards: the channels in a least 3 places are less then 2 kilometers wide, there are many reefs and rocks all along the route, and there is a spot in the channel that is only 35 meters deep in the middle.

The possibility of an oil tanker grounding on the BC coast is very real. The central and north coast is renowned for it's extreme and unpredictable weather. Much of the year it's shrouded in Fog. There can be extremely high winds that come out of the fjords with little or no warning. Hecate Straight, where Douglas Channel meets the ocean is the location of the second highest ever recorded wave. Were there to be an oil spill it would be devastating. There is no know effective way to clean up crude bitumen. When the Exxon Valdes hit a reef, in waters far less dangerous then those in this proposed area, it covered an area of over 450 miles. If the same happened here, that means we could see oil spreading as far as Comox and Tofino.

The Great Bear Rainforest, and the area around Kitimat, is one of the largest remaining unspoilt temperate rainforests in the world. 1000 year old Red Cedar and 90 meter Sitka Spruce stand guard over the hills and coastline. Orcas, Humpbacks, and Grey Whales navigate these channels. Porpoise, Sea Lions, and Otters feed from these rich waters. Grizzlies, Black Bear, Wolves, and the amazing white Spirit Bears call this area home. It is something really special that we have a responsibility to protect.

The Gabriola Island group S.O.S. “Save Our Shores” held a similar No-Tankers event at Descanso Bay Region Park on Gabriola during the Oceans Day activities on June 10th. Participants marched from the main road down the beach with 1280 feet of yellow crime scene tape (which is the same length as a supertanker), then passed the tape off to a group of small boats and kayakers who paddled out into the bay with it. “When I stopped paddling a turned around and looked back to see the tape I was really surprised. I knew that supertankers were huge, but I didn't think they were that big!” Explains one of the organizers.

Everyone is welcome to come down and watch as the kayakers will arrange themselves into the shape and size of a supertanker. Kayakers from Nanaimo and the surrounding communities are invited to join us in this rally. Anyone interested in participating must RSVP in advance by contacting Silva Bay Kayak Adventures by phone at 250-247-8939, or online at Participants are responsible for providing their own kayaking and safety equipment. There will also be a no-tankers petition from the Dogwood Initiative that interested spectators will be able to sign.


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