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Kayaking vs. Canoeing: The best Canadian lakes to try both

So you want to explore Canada’s most beautiful lakes by hopping on board a boat for a little tour around the blue waters? Well, first you have to decide which kind of boat matches your vibe. It’s time to choose your fighter!

Kayaking versus canoeing; which one is for you?


Kayaking on lake

Kayaks are closed-deck boats with a hole in the middle for the pilot. You sit with your legs stretched out inside the kayak and use a double bladder paddle to push yourself forward. There are also Sit-on-Top kayaks if you’re looking to get some sun while you’re out there, but they’re definitely easier to capsize so bring your balancing act.

If you’re trying to get somewhere fast, kayaks are the perfect choice for you because they’re lightweight, nimble and agile for piloting. You also get to be up close and personal with the water as it is a shallower boat. They’re ideal for single riders, though tandem kayaks are a thing if you’re looking to go with someone to help you paddle through the water.

Fun fact: Kayaks come from Inuit tribes in Alaska, Canada and Greenland who mainly used them for hunting. They were usually made out of wood with seal-skin stretched over-top, but thanks to plastic you can now get kayaks in all kinds of fun colours.


Canoe on lake

Canoes are open-deck boats that use one-bladed paddles. If the canoe has no bench, the pilots are meant to kneel while they paddle. Most common canoes have benches though so don’t worry, you’ll probably be able to sit.

If you’re aiming to avoid getting wet, the canoe is your best bet. It has higher sides so it's harder for water to get in, and it’s bigger and therefore harder to capsize. They’re slower-moving but fit more people, so it’s a great choice for a squad looking for a good time on the lake.

Fun fact: The oldest known boat in the world is a canoe discovered in the Netherlands. It dates all the way back to 8200 B.C. Canoes have been transporting people and goods for thousands of years, so you know it's a safe bet for exploring on the water.

The Ultimate Canadian Lakes to Explore

Now you have your boat, let’s find your perfect getaway!

Canoeing on Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a popular choice nestled up in Banff, Alberta. This beautiful lake has cool, colour-changing waters which turn a beautiful turquoise thanks to the fine rock dust from the nearby glaciers.

Just 14km away, Moraine Lake is another blue-green beauty showing off the glacial colours as you paddle through its waters. The still waters reflect the surrounding mountains like a mirror so you’ll never miss the view no matter where you’re looking.

Emerald Lake in B.C. is a great place for kayaking or canoeing in Yoho National Park. The glaciers are really treating Canadian lakes well, and Emerald Lake is no different. The vibrant blue-green is at its peak during the summer when the glaciers start to melt. (Bonus: renting canoes at Emerald Lake is less costly than renting at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake - and the waters are just as beautiful).

Get ready for the arm workout of a lifetime as you paddle through some of Canada’s most beautiful lakes. If you’ve got it in you to try all three, join FML on our West Coast Best Coast tour where we visit all these highlights and more.

All aboard!

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