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The Best Paddling In And Around Kelowna, British Columbia

Kelowna, British Columbia is known for warm temperatures and bright blue skies, and paddling is the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of the Okanagan Valley. Whether on a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak, take advantage of this destination’s Mediterranean-like climate and explore one of the amazing paddling experiences listed below.

For a variety of paddle programs as well as canoe, kayak and SUP rentals, visit the Kelowna Paddle Centre. Renee Yeung is an employee there and she says because “our centre is set right by the lake, we have paddlers of all types visiting.” That includes outrigger canoes, which the centre rents and offers classes in. As for her favourite place to paddle, Renee says she loves Kelowna’s Paddle Trail and regularly takes it to Hot Sands beach downtown because “there are lots of restaurants there and typically that’s where my friends hang out. But for a more relaxing, quieter time, I’ll go to Gyro Beach a kilometre from the downtown core.”

Kelowna Paddle Trail

The Kelowna Paddle trail is a 27-kilometre-long section of lakeshore on Okanagan Lake that starts at McKinley Beach and extends to Bertram Creek Regional Park and is marked by buoys to guide you along. Some paddlers may choose to tackle a smaller section, while others may decide to navigate the whole trail and pass by more than 20 beaches, three waterfront resorts, two bird sanctuaries, and downtown Kelowna. A great launching point near the middle of the Kelowna Paddle Trail for those looking to cover a shorter distance is Sutherland Park on Ellis Street, where paddlers can head north for a scenic nature paddle along the edges of Knox Mountain Park, or head south towards Downtown Kelowna.

Okanagan Mountain Park

Situated along the eastern edge of Okanagan Lake, between Kelowna and Naramata, Okanagan Mountain Park offers 33-kilometres of pristine, untouched shoreline. This stretch of lake is an ideal spot for those looking to get away from the bustle of the city and also offers several backcountry campsites open for those who want to make it into an overnight paddle trip. While kayaking or canoeing along the park’s shoreline and small coves, watch for the bighorn sheep that inhabit the rugged cliff faces.

Rattlesnake Island

Situated 20 kilometres south of Kelowna on Okanagan Lake, Rattlesnake Island is a great paddle destination that is said to be the home of the Ogopogo Lake Monster and has a unique history. In the 1970s a man named Eddie Haymour owned the island and had plans to develop it into an Arab-themed amusement park complete with mini-golf, pyramids, and a giant camel. His plans never came to fruition but today many paddlers venture across the lake to visit the island and see remnants of the mini-golf course that Haymour had started building. The easiest way to reach the island is to paddle the three kilometres across the lake from Peachland but before embarking, note that the lake is a large body of water and crossing can be committing when winds pick up and waves grow in size. Check the weather forecast before you go.

Kalamalka Lake

Located 45 kilometres north of Kelowna, Kalamalka Lake is a rare type of water body called a marl lake. This means that in the summer, when the water warms, calcium carbonate left by historic glaciers forms crystals in the water that reflect sunlight, giving the lake a majestic array of blue, green, and turquoise colours. Kaloya Regional Park in Oyama is the perfect place on Kalamalka to launch your watercraft and paddle through the beautiful waters. From the park, paddle north along the pristine east shore of the 16-kilometre-long lake and keep your eyes open for white-tailed deer, mule deer, mink, bobcat, black bear, cougar, coyote, and red fox, which are known to inhabit the area. For those looking to cover the entire distance of the lake, you can travel to Cosens Bay, a lovely sandy beach at the north end of the lake situated in Kalamalka Provincial Park.

Oyama Lake

Oyama Lake is a perfect paddling destination for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path vibe. Situated in the mountains above Lake Country, less than an hour’s drive north of Kelowna, Oyama Lake is surrounded by trees, has little islands scattered throughout for exploring, and boasts lots of wildlife from beaver to loons. The higher elevation provides cooler temperatures in the summer months when the valley is hot and for those looking for somewhere to picnic, there is a provincial rec site on the shore of the lake.

The Okanagan Valley is a summer paradise, and this article only scratches the surface of the amazing paddling opportunities in the region. The greater Kelowna area has endless options for places to stay, from camping sites to high-end hotels, as well as countless drink and dining options in the city. The Brewery District on Kelowna’s North End and the city is surrounding by numerous wineries. For more about where to eat, drink, and be merry in Kelowna, visit tourismkelowna.com.

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