Desolation Sound Kayaking Tours




ABOUT OUr Desolation Sound Kayaking Tours

Desolation Sound is a hidden gem at the northern end of the Salish Sea. The labyrinth of islands, coves, bays and lagoons of Desolation Sound are framed by towering peaks of the Coast Mountain range, resulting in unusually warm and sheltered waters that provide a perfect sea kayak experience.

With ample hiking, forested trails, and beach walks, you will have an opportunity to stretch those sea legs every day in a new area. A visit to the unique seabird nesting colony of Mitlenatch Island, with its carpets of wildflowers, is another highlight of this tour.

Our accompanying naturalist will guide you through the local flora and fauna, giving you a better understanding of the ecology and interconnectedness of this biologically diverse region. 

Revel in the comforts of a good book, enjoy the stunning coastal scenery from the foredeck, and let our crew take you on a journey you won’t soon forget. 

Trip size limited to 8 – 10 participants. Our trips are all-inclusive from the point of departure. Trip prices are per person in Canadian dollars plus 5% G.S.T. Other currencies are listed for convenience. Exchange rates are updated every hour.


Day 1 - 4

We will depart Campbell River  shortly after guests board at 6 pm on our departure date and head towards Desolation Sound. Throughout our tour, the Columbia III is our luxurious floating home. Each day is planned around a kayak excursion and each night we’ll anchor in a new cove with a stunning vista. As we paddle, we’ll view the intertidal marine life and keep our eyes open for marine mammals and seabirds while exploring the nooks and crannies along our way.

Day 5

The Columbia III returns to Campbell River in the early afternoon of on the 5th day

Map of Desolation Sound BC
Desolation Sound Painting Tour with Mark Hobson | Mothership Adventures

A totally enjoyable trip. The food and fellowship are superb. The Columbia III is an incredibly beautiful ship, as is the area in which she lives. The food and service were marvellous. All were extremely knowledgeable and informative. Great Trip!”

Carol, British Columbia


Be sure to go through this list carefully so that you come prepared and ready for every day of your adventure. A PDF printable list is also available.

Print These Instructions

Embarking Details

Our Desolation Sound Kayaking Tour begins in the town of Campbell River (map), located 160 miles north of Victoria on the eastside of Vancouver Island. Here the Columbia III will await your arrival at the Discovery Harbour Marina.

Important Points

  • Columbia III will be moored at the Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River (250) 287-2614.
  • Board the vessel punctually between 6:00 pm and 6:15 pm. Not earlier, not later.
  • We serve snacks the first night but not dinner. We suggest you have dinner before boarding.
  • The Columbia III returns to Campbell River at approximately 2 pm on the last day of the tour.
  • The Columbia III cell phone number is 250-202-4745 (The ship is only in cell coverage on the first and last day of each tour)

Getting To Campbell River

There are a number of ways of getting to Campbell River. The simplest is to fly directly from Vancouver to Campbell River’s regional airport (YBL). Flying time from Vancouver to Campbell River is approx 45 minutes. Other ways include the combination of either car and ferry or shuttle and ferry. Ferry crossing time from Vancouver to Vancouver Island is approx. 2 hours. Driving time from Nanaimo to Campbell River is 1.5 hours, or from Victoria to Campbell River is 3.5 hours.

Travelling By Air

From Vancouver:

  • Pacific Coastal Airlines runs numerous daily flights to Campbell River 1-800-663-2872 or 604-273-8666 (in Vancouver).
  • Central Mountain Air has daily flights to Campbell River at 1-888-865-8585 or 250-847-5000.
  • Air Canada acts as a booking agent for Pacific Coastal Airlines and Central Mountain Air if an Air Canada ticket has been purchased to a connecting airport (ie. Vancouver) 1-800-247-2262 (in Canada) or 1-800-776-3000 (in USA).

From Seattle:

Travelling By Ferry

From Vancouver:
B.C. Ferries has year round vehicle and passenger service – Routes include: North Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) to Nanaimo (Departure Bay), South Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to South Nanaimo (Duke Point) and South Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Swartz Bay (near Victoria) 1-888 223-3779 or outside B.C. 250-386-3431.

From Washington State:

  • M.V. Coho has vehicle and passenger service from Port Angeles WA to downtown Victoria B.C.
  • Victoria Clipper has passenger-only ferry service from downtown Seattle to downtown Victoria B.C. 1-800-888-2535.

Ground Travel Information

In Campbell River:

  • Campbell River Airport Shuttle: 250-914-1010
  • Waivin Flags Taxi 250-287-8294
  • Bee Line Taxi: 250-287-8383

Car Rental Providers:

  • Budget Car Rental: 1-800-299-3199 or 250-923-4283 (in Campbell River)
  • National Car Rental: 1-800-227-7368 or 250-923-1234 (in Campbell River)

Visiting Vancouver Island

Many of our guests like to explore Vancouver Island before or after their adventure on the Columbia III. Please contact Tourism Vancouver Island (250)754- 3500 or for ideas and information. Accommodation throughout BC can be arranged through 1-800-435-5622 or

Accommodation in Campbell River

For those guests who wish to arrive prior to our departure, or stay later after our trip, many hotels and bed & breakfasts are available in Campbell River. Further information is also available from: Campbell River & District Chamber of Commerce: (250) 287-4636 or


There is a variety of parking available. Please ask for directions at the boat when you arrive.


Contacting Columbia III

The Columbia III can be contacted at these cellular numbers:1-888-833-8887 and 250-202-4745.

In an extreme emergency, the boat can be contacted directly by calling the Canadian Coast Guard in Victoria at 250-480-2600 or in Prince Rupert at 250-627-3081. Ask them to send a message to “MV Columbia III” (quote this number: MMSI# 316-003-614). We are often off the boat so expect a response to take up to 12 hours. The ship’s phone is not for guest use.

For more contact information, visit our CONTACT page.


We will do our best to accommodate personal dietary restrictions, including vegetarian and vegan. Wine will be served with the evening meal. If you would like an alternative to alcohol, please let us know. Please note: any food allergies or needs must be listed on your medical form well before your departure date to ensure the cook has time to shop accordingly.

Medical, Allergies, and Other Concerns

Mail us your completed Medical Form ASAP. Your tetanus and COVID 19 vaccinations must be up to date (less than 10 years old for Tetanus) before you leave.

Be sure to bring enough of your required medications as you will be far from any drug stores. We may encounter minor ocean swells so if seasickness is a concern, please bring anti-nausea medication. But rest assured, we travel in very sheltered areas and overnight in calm, protected bays. We do our best to avoid swells and waves!

Liability Waiver

Please read our liability waiver closely. We require a signed waiver for you to be able to join our tour. You can send a copy to us by email or regular post. Your signature must be witnessed but not notarized. A friend, partner or relative can be your witness.

Download Liability Waiver
Sea Kayaking Tours in British Columbia

Packing for
your trip

Weather, Clothing, and Packing

Our skipper and certified guides will not take you in any weather conditions that are dangerous to you or the group. We will likely encounter some wind and waves (the ocean is not always flat!), but nothing that would compromise the safety of a beginner kayaker.

Apparel Selection

For maximum comfort, a layering system of lighter “quick-dry” and warmer fleece clothing works best. Merino wool is excellent as well. Avoid cotton which stays wet for a very long time. Waterproof rain gear is essential. When getting in and out of your kayak on shore your feet WILL get wet. We suggest a pair of sturdy water sandals/ shoes. Sports gloves for paddling may add to your comfort and help prevent blisters. Proper protection from the sun is essential so bring sunglasses, a sun hat, sunblock and lip screen. Bring a water bottle. Staying hydrated in the outdoors is very important. When aboard the mothership, comfortable casual clothing is nice to change into after paddling.

Consider bringing the items listed on the packing list we provide.

We have waterproof bags (dry bags) onboard that you can use for your cameras or other small items in your kayak if you like. Large Ziploc bags work as well. Hard suitcases are difficult to fit into the small storage compartments on the Columbia III, so if possible, bring your things in soft duffle type bags.

NOTE: Although not required, if you’d like to express your appreciation to the guides through a gratuity, such recognition would be enthusiastically received. The industry standard for tipping is approximately 5-10 percent of the trip cost. All tips will be equally distributed among your crew.

Packing List

  • Sun Hat / Warm Hat
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Windbreaker or Shell
  • Waterproof Rain Gear (jacket and pants)
  • T-shirts, Shorts, Swimsuit
  • Warm Layered clothing
  • Shore Shoes (for walking or hiking)
  • Sturdy water sandals/shoes (for kayaking)
  • Toiletries
  • Medications, prescription and non prescription
  • Day Pack
  • Sunglasses, Spare pair of Eyeglasses
  • Sun block, Lip Screen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Water Bottle
  • Sports Gloves (for use while paddling)
  • Binoculars, Journal, Sketchbook (optional)
  • Waterproof Bag
  • A Good Book


Why do I need to sign your liability waiver form?

Our insurance provider requires all our guests to complete a Canadian industry standard waiver. You will receive this form once you have reserved. See the Liability Form here for reference.

Can I bring a personal drone for aerial photography?

No. Many First Nations on the coast prohibit the use of drones in their territories and we are bound to this restriction with our protocol agreements with the Nations. Additionally, there are government restrictions on the use of drones around marine and terrestrial wildlife. Sorry!

What do I need to bring on a mothership kayak tour?

Our tours are all inclusive. We supply the kayaks and related gear (paddles, spray skirts, lifejackets), meals, bedding, shower towels, and wine with the evening meal. When you book, we will provide you with a packing list of the personal items you will need to bring.

Do I have to be an experienced kayaker to come on a mothership kayak tour?

You do not need any previous kayaking experience to come on our tours. Our certified guides give a thorough presentation regarding paddling safety and technique before we launch our kayaks on the first day. They are always available throughout the tour to answer your questions, demonstrate strokes or help you out with any paddling concerns.

What happens if I tip over in my kayak?

First of all, it is very unlikely to happen. If it did, our guides are trained, practiced and tested on their rescues, so you would be back in your kayak in minutes. Then we’d paddle to shore to warm up with dry clothes and a cup of hot tea before heading on our way again.

How many hours do we kayak each day?

Every day is different depending on the weather, the location, and the wishes of the group. Typically, we paddle for two to three hours before lunch and another two to three hours after lunch with the option to paddle more or less. That’s the benefit of a mothership style tour.

Is there the option to use a single kayak?

Yes, we carry four single guest kayaks. They are shared amongst the guests though most people prefer doubles, so if you are a “single” lover, you’ll likely be able to paddle a single all week. Occasionally due to safety reasons, the guides may request everyone to be in doubles.

Can I charge my camera batteries aboard the Columbia III?

We have both 117 VAC and 12 VDC cigarette-lighter style systems aboard with ample power for charging camera batteries and related equipment.

Do I need to bring my own binoculars?

Although the ship carries several pairs of binoculars, it is always best to bring your own if possible. This will insure that you have the binoculars handy at the critical moments of wildlife viewing.

Do you supply maps of the areas we visit?

Yes. We offer beautiful charts free of charge.

Can Mothership Adventures accommodate my special dietary restrictions while on tour?

Yes, we can usually accommodate most dietary restrictions and food allergies. You will be able to indicate these on our pre-trip medical form.

Is alcohol provided or should we bring our own?

Wine or beer is served with each dinner. If you would like other types of alcohol, please bring your own, providing your consumption is moderate.

What are the sleeping arrangements aboard the Columbia III?

Five private cabins accommodate two guests each. Three staterooms have double beds for couples and two have single bunks for single passengers. Three toilets and two showers are shared between the five staterooms.

Should I be concerned about seasickness?

Seasickness is rarely a problem. The Columbia III travels for the most part in very protected waters which are not exposed to the ocean swells, but if you are prone to seasickness, then please do bring your medication.

Will there be additional costs on the tour that I don’t expect?

No. If there are any costs during the normal itinerary such as museum admission fees or costs for a BC First Nations feast or performance then Mothership Adventures pays for these at no extra charge to you. Any personal purchases you might make at shops or with artisans during the tour would, of course, be your responsibility.

Is it mandatory to go on all kayak outings?

The beauty of the Mothership is that you only do what is comfortable for you. If the weather turns foul and you want a quiet day aboard the Columbia III then snuggle in! This is your holiday. Relax and enjoy yourself.

Ask us a question


Over the years, we've provided ‘trips of a lifetime’ for countless travellers from around the world. See what our past guests have to say about their experiences with us.

View Guest Book

“We are truly in awe of the experience you shared with us. The attention to detail and the quality of care you show your guests is outstanding. Fern, the food was incredible, kayaking will always bring back memories of the smells coming from your galley and the camaraderie shared at the table. Ross, your love and enthusiasm for the COLUMBIA III and Mothership Adventures always shows in the stories and knowledge you so freely share. Thank you all for one of the best vacations we’ve ever had, along with the opportunity to share a week in your lives. We can’t thank you enough.”

– 2012 Joan and Michael Collins, Publishers, Sea Kayaker Magazine

“Another amazing trip aboard my favorite boat. It’s like taking our home into the middle of a vast, wild, beautiful wilderness, and then getting to quietly be a part of that natural world. A gentle spirit bear, sparring grizzlies, breaching whales and gorgeous paddling water! And then great food, good humor, amazing stories and wonderful friends. Thank you everyone for a unique and fantastic trip.”

– Mary, Cour D’Alene Idaho. 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and whole boat charter 2018, and returning in 2022


Book Your Trip Today to Reserve Your Desired Dates and Trip Destination