No experience is required for our kayak tours! Our adventures are for everyone. Our trips are designed to cater to all levels of experience and abilities. The majority of people who join our tours are first time kayakers, and we take care to introduce you to the sport in a fun and safe manner. All that we ask is that you welcome adventure with an open mind and are able to laugh and have fun when encountering the unexpected. Please feel free to call and discuss which trip is best for you.
Our groups are small, ranging from 8-13 people depending on the trip, in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Spirit of the West maintains a minimum ratio of one guide for every 5 guests on most trips. On our Johnstone Strait Ultimate Tour, we want to provide the ultimate in flexibility and service so we send 3 guides for 13 people. All our expedition stye tours have a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. Our Chile tours also have a higher ratio of 1 guide to every 4 guests due to the remote nature of these tours.
Spirit of the West takes pride in the equipment we use on our tours. We use only high quality fiberglass kayaks from manufacturers such as Seaward, Current Designs and Nimbus. We always have a variety of single and double kayaks avaliable for you to try on each trip (the exception is our mothership style tours in which there is limited space and we use all double kayaks).
We provide everything you need to have a great kayaking adventure, including paddling equipment, camp cookware and eating utensils, and camping gear (with the exception of your personal clothing and a sleeping bag, though we do have some available at a cost of $25 per trip to cover our cleaning costs).
We use tents made by Mountain Equipment Co-op or REI and Therma-rest brand self-inflating sleeping pads to ensure you sleep well at the end of the day.
The incredible diversity of wildlife never ceases to amaze. From the smallest creature living in the rocks on shore, to the incredible diversity of bird life, deer, bears, dolphins, porpoise and whales, we are fortunate to share this beautiful area with so many incredible species.
Our philosophy is to not interrupt the natural behaviour of the wildlife. We think of it as an extreme priviledge to view these animals in their natural habitat and to catch a glimpse into their daily lives and behaviours.
The Orca spend their days foraging, playing and socializing, and we want to keep it this way. We strongly believe that we should do everything that we can to minimize our impacts on their natural behaviour and habitat. We follow the Be Whale Wise Guidelines, which have been established to protect both the whales and kayakers and boaters from any negative interactions as well as long term, cumulative effects.
Abiding by the Marine Mammal Viewing Guidelines means the following for kayakers:
- We never approach whales closer than 100 meters (this may mean repositioning our kayaks as they approach).
- We position ourselves out of the path of the whales.
- We ensure that we are tight to shore or well off shore if the whales are feeding in and around the kelp line.
When travelling by motor boat (like our water taxi):
- We slow down immediately when we encounter whales
- We stay out of their path
- We do not approach from in front or behind
- We stay on the offshore side of the whales
- We put the engine into neutral or turn it off completely, and turn off all sonar and depth sounders
- We never stay with a group of whales for longer than 30 minutes.
While 100m may seem like a significant distance to put between yourself and an Orca whale, it is amazing how close and large they can seem when you see a six foot tall dorsal fin from a kayak. We must also remember that these guidelines have been established using years of research examining the distances at which Orcas have been shown to be negatively impacted.
All of our Canadian tour departures are guaranteed – if you book with us, you can be confident that your trip with go ahead as planned. Please see our full Terms and Conditions for more details.