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A Local's Guide: 10 Best Paddleboarding Spots on the Saanich Peninsula

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Are you a British Columbian local looking for an amazing SUP location to explore this summer? Or maybe you're a visitor here for a longer stay or desiring an 'off the beaten path' adventure? Then this is the post for you. There is no need to look any further than this long, beautiful, scenic headland along the south of Vancouver Island. It has plenty of hidden gems to offer curious paddleboarders. I’m going to be going into detail about everything you need to know to SUP the Saanich Peninsula.


So let’s begin!


What’s in the name?

“Saanich” comes from the Saanich First Nations dialect meaning "raised up" as in “emerging land” or “emerging people”.


Saanich Peninsula is located on the traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Lkwungen-speaking people on whose traditional territories, we live, we learn and enjoy the beauty it has to offer. The First Peoples have been here since time and their history in the area is long and rich and has greatly influenced us all.


“The District of Saanich lies within the territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən (lay-kwung-gen) peoples represented by the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and the W̱SÁNEĆ (weh-Saanich) peoples represented by the Tsartlip (Sart-Lip), Pauquachin (Paw-Qua-Chin), Tsawout (Say-Out), Tseycum (Sigh-Come) and Malahat (Mal-a-hat) Nations. “



Where is the Saanich Peninsula?

Located on the beautiful southern end of Vancouver Island, the Saanich Peninsula is just a 20 minute drive from Victoria. Known to be the ‘Paddlers Paradise’ the Saanich Peninsula is surrounded by the Gulf Islands and on the leeward side of Vancouver Island. The peninsula officially starts at Millstream on the west and Cordova Bay on the east. It’s about 28 km long and 13 km wide at its widest point.




Why is the Saanich Peninsula a good area for SUP?

Having lived here for six years and having guided many people around this beautiful area, it’s exciting to get to share some of the best and ideal paddling spots with you. Along the way, I’ll include suggestions for other ocean adventures, farm stands, vineyards, picnics, sea creature viewing & beach exploring.


The Saanich Peninsula is known as the driest part of Vancouver Island because it lies in the ‘rain shadow’ between Vancouver island ranges and Olympic mountains. Making it an ideal place to get out onto the water and SUP because it is very unlikely you’ll be caught in a big rainstorm!


Where are the best places to SUP?

Well, we like a lot of places but here, we narrowed it down to our top 10.

Sawluctus Island Loop

Level of difficulty: Easy

Paddle access points: Millstream Launch

Parking: Available at Goldstream Boathouse, parking and launch fee $20/vehicle includes launch of 2 boards

Paddle route distance: 3.2 km from the marina, around the island, and back

Paddling hazards: cannot paddle south of marina - restricted access, don’t paddle too close to seals on docks, do not land on private island.

What else to see and do: Hike in Goldstream Provincial Park, snorkeling and diving.




Finlayson Arm Fjord

Level of difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced.

Paddle access points: Pacifica paddle sports in Brentwood bay.

Parking: Available.

- West end: Available at Goldstream Boathouse, parking and launch fee $20/vehicle includes the launch of 2 boards

- East end: Pacific Paddle Sports

Paddle route distance: 12km from Brentwood Bay to Millstream.

Paddling hazards: This is a 12km unsupported paddle so conditions may vary.

What else to see and do: Eagles and Seals.





Buchart Gardens via Tod Inlet

Level of difficulty: Easy

Paddle access points: Pacifica Paddle Sports in Brentwood Bay.

Parking: Available

Paddle route distance: 3.5km from Brentwood Bay directly into Tod Inlet.

Paddling hazards: Small boats, moderate congestion

What else to see and do: Bald eagles, seals, otters, picnic lodging, fishing and more.


This area is great for fall paddling so why not grab a copy of our entire Vancouver Island Fall Paddle Guide?





Brentwood Bay

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports in Brentwood Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 2.6km

Paddling Hazards: Moderate congestions

What else to see and do: Butchart Gardens, picnics, whale watching.

*This is our favourite location for learning! We use it for all our SUP lessons and many of our Learn to Paddleboard programs.




Coles Bay (Coles Bay Regional Park)

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced.

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports Swartz Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 11km

Paddling Hazards: This is an 11km unsupported paddle so conditions may vary.

What else to see and do: Picnicking areas, forest trails, beautiful scenery, and an expansive beach.




Chalet Beach

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate.

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports Swartz Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 5km

Paddling Hazards: Moderate congestion.

What else to see and do: Take beautiful pictures at Moses Point, visit Deep Cove Winery or have a bite to eat at Deep Cove Chalet.




Circumnavigate Piers Island

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports Swartz Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 4.8km

Paddling Hazards: Ferry Traffic, crossing main channels, must be familiar with marine traffic rules, winds can pick up

What else to see and do: Pat Bay Air Floatplane Tours, Book an overnight stay on Piers Island.




Explore Lewis Bay

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports Swartz Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 1-6km (depends on route)

Paddling Hazards: boat traffic, tidal currents between islands

What else to see and do: Take amazing photos at the ‘Lookout Across The Harbour’

*This is another favourite location for learning! We use it for some of our SUP lessons and many of our more advanced programs.




Roberts Bay - Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports Swartz Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 3-5km

Paddling Hazards: boat traffic

What else to see and do: birds, Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, Beacon Park by the Sidney waterfront is great for picnics. Picnic tables can also be found between Beacon Wharf and the fishing pier, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the aquarium.




Explore Cordova Channel & James Island

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced.

Paddle Access Points and Parking: Pacifica Paddle Sports Swartz Bay.

Paddle Route Distance: 11km

Paddling Hazards: boat traffic

What else to see and do: Visit Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea and have a snack at Marigold Cafe.


Check out our google earth interactive map to see where each area is located;



What Else to Enjoy on the Saanich Peninsula

As well as paddleboarding there are many other fun and interesting things to do on the Saanich Peninsula.


Mount Douglas Park is a beautiful place to hike and be out in nature. Offering different trials with lush green trees surrounding you all with that ocean breeze in the background.


The Gardens at HCP is a must-visit. They are internationally recognized as a botanical garden and a respected centre of life-long learning and conversation research. It provides a beautiful backdrop to any day. Highly recommended.


Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary An accessible green space with an urban landscape. Expect to see an array of rare and threatened native plants and wild animals.


Matticks Farm - Cordova Bay's premier boutique shopping destination, with over 15 shops to chose from. If you expect shopping to be fabulous, then this is the place for you.


Symphony Vineyard - A small family-owned farm that has been running for over 60 years. It is a must-see. With Wines true to the region they are 100% Saanich grown and are delicious every time.



Are you ready to come and explore the Saanich Peninsula yet?

With the ten places listed above for paddleboarding, it is clear to see that Saanich Peninsula has a lot to offer.


Whether you are a family and just want fun on the water and need it to be beginner-friendly or you are an experienced Paddleboarder and want to challenge yourself we have the route for you.


Deciding and knowing where you should paddle in a new location can be daunting and a little unsettling. The first and most important thing is to know local knowledge.


As always feel free to drop a comment below and I would be happy to share more information with you!


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