Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

About halfway through a kayaking tour on the waters of Indian Arm, expect the Deep Cove Kayak instructor to whip out a bag of the area’s famous doughnuts for a snack while taking in the view of the fjord and likely spotting some wildlife.

Kayaking in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove area offers breathtaking scenery and an abundance of wildlife. The village is a short trip from Vancouver and visitors can enjoy many other outdoor activities in the area, including hiking, if they wish to stay longer.

Deep Cove is close to Vancouver and the waters are calm, making it a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists, said Joel Viehweger, 23, who has worked as a kayak instructor at Deep Cove Kayak for three seasons.

“There’s a bunch of other neat stuff to do,” he said, highlighting the area’s eateries and nature.

It’s nice “just being out where it doesn’t seem like you’re in a big city,” he added. “It has a really small-town vibe.”

The most popular tour is a three-hour exploration of the area that Viehweger says runs three times a day during the high season months.

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Participants receive a quick demonstration on land, teaching them how to paddle effectively and get in and out of the boats — a not-so-glamorous process that involves straddling the kayak and popping in butt first so as not to damage the boat.

Once on the water, instructors discuss the area’s flora, fauna and history.

The water there is brackish, meaning a mixture of salt and fresh water, making for a slightly salty taste. They can point out harbour seals, great blue herons and moon jelly fish — don’t worry, they don’t sting.

As paddlers pass through the small, scattered islands they’ll learn about the folklore of Jug Island. Some say the island was a drop-off spot for bootleggers during prohibition.

At some point during the journey, instructors will treat the guests to doughnuts from Honey’s Doughnuts & Goodies, which has been a fixture on Deep Cove’s main shopping drag for decades.

“That’s the tradition,” Viehweger said.

The cafe, known mostly for its decadent doughnuts, hit a new level of fame when actor Kate Winslet raved about the treats during an interview at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

“I pine for Honey’s doughnuts,” she said, before repeating herself, heavy emphasis on the word “pine.”

The bakers make the preservative-free, high-quality ingredient doughnuts fresh, said co-owner Ashak Saferali, and sometimes customers have to wait for a new batch.

They come in plain, maple chocolate, maple bacon, coconut and cinnamon flavours, he said, and the recipe remains unchanged since he bought the original business in 1996.

It helps the business when Hollywood celebrities like Winslet call attention to the cafe, Saferali said, adding she’s not the only actor to have dropped by the store.

He also believes the tranquility of Deep Cove helps bring patrons to the restaurant.

“The area is really beautiful… It’s like going into a small village.”

If you go…

— Group tours cost between $75 and $120 per adult, plus GST. The company also offers private tours and lessons.

— Viehweger recommends bringing lots of water — even on cloudy days — and wearing athletic clothes. Leave the jeans and cotton shirts at home.

— If kayaking with a romantic partner, know the doubles kayaking is jokingly referred to as “the divorce boat” sometimes because it can prompt some heated arguments. But Viehweger swears he’s never seen anything too serious.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

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