In Canada’s 150th year, many Canadians are making it a priority to get out and explore the vast and varied land we live in. The decision to spend more time getting to know our country isn’t a difficult one, but choosing how to explore is a little more complicated.
There are lots of ways to see Canada—road-tripping, taking the train, hopping a jet—but one mode of exploring is often overlooked. Boat tours are unlike any other mode of travel. They can be small and intimate or large and lavish. They’re restricted to wherever there’s water, but they can also go places you can’t reach by car or on foot. Best of all, when you’re on a boat tour, you don’t have to stop at a gas station every few hours.
Canada has the world’s longest coastline, making it ideal for boat trips. Here are a few boat tours we’d recommend checking out if you want to get out on the water.
Kawarthas canal cruise
When most people think of cruises, they think of the ocean—vast waterscapes and long-distance travels. But while Ontario isn’t on the ocean, it does offer some of the finest cruising opportunities available. Ontario Waterway Cruises offers a five-day cruise through the Kawarthas that brings passengers through lakes down the Trent-Severn Waterway, right in the middle of some of the province’s most beautiful cottage country. This cruise, which is onboard a riverboat, highlights the incredible beauty of rivers and lakes, and gets to pass through some of the Trent-Severn Waterway’s historic locks, to boot.
Banff’s Lake Minnewanka
Brewster‘s cruise of Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park is just an hour long, but with that hour, it manages to show passengers some of the most spectacular sights they’ll ever see. Lake Minnewanka is the only lake in Banff National Park to allow any power-boating, so this cruise is truly unique. This tour brings passengers over the green waters of the lake where they get an incredible vantage point of the forested peaks towering above, and riders may see some local wildlife as well. It may be one of the best hours you ever spend.
The Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. It’s home to the highest tides on earth, as well as towering rock formations and incredible marine life. Advocate Boat Tours offers small, intimate experiences in these epic surroundings for groups of six or less. These tours show off the capes and beaches along Nova Scotia’s coast, and might just bring you into contact with a seal colony or two as well.
The Broken Group Islands
Most boat tours focus on the incredible landscapes you can see beyond the water, but Archipelago Cruises‘ five-hour boat tour to the Broken Group Islands gets passengers to look at what’s in the water. The company offers a unique wildlife cruise that gives passengers an up-close-and-personal look at some of the animals living near BC’s Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This includes whales, porpoises, sea lions, otters, and bald eagles. The islands themselves are also spectacular, small scatterings of rocky green amidst a blue-green sea.
The Georgian Bay
The Bruce Peninsula is a classic Canadian destination, and there are several boat companies that can help visitors see as much of it as possible. Bruce Anchor Tours provides trips to Flowerpot Island, part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park, which is only accessible by boat and is home to distinctive rock pillars, from which it gets its name. Their boats are glass-bottomed, allowing passengers to check out the shipwrecks on the lake floor. Island Queen Cruise offers more luxurious cruises around the islands in Georgian Bay, taking a leisurely route through the various channels and offering plenty of photo ops. The good thing about the Georgian Bay is that it doesn’t really matter which boat you’re on — the view will always be fantastic.
The icebergs of Newfoundland and Labrador
There are lots of place in Canada where you can go to see forests and lakes, but icebergs are a bit rarer. But Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours has devoted itself to helping people see these jaw-dropping ice formations firsthand. Starting in the spring, icebergs begin to detach from glaciers in Greenland and the Arctic, and they slowly make their way over to Canada’s east coast. Iceberg Quest’s daily tours bring people right up close to these natural wonders — and it’s not uncommon to come across humpback whales on these same trips. If you’re looking for a boating experience you can’t find anywhere else, we highly recommend getting out east to see these incredible towers of ice.
The rough charm of Newfoundland’s coast
Rugged Beauty Boat Tours is aptly named. The towns and seaside landscapes on the Island of Newfoundland have a beauty that’s rough and unpolished. You can practically feel the history emanating from the area, which has been physically sculpted by wind and water. The scenery stunning beautiful, and you’ll also stop by some abandoned communities that have themselves become part of the landscape. If you can make it out to Newfoundland, a boat tour near the Trinity area is not to be missed.