• A guide learning about routes with a chart in Desolation Sound

Guided or Self-Guided Kayak Packages?

Still not sure whether to choose a guided or an self-guided Cabana Desolation package? Here are some important points to consider

Benefits of a Guided Package


Unless you have taken formal sea kayaking lessons with a professional instructor, you should not even be considering a​ self-guided package. Despite the relaxed atmosphere of Cabana Desolation Eco Resort, sea kayaking is still a potentially hazardous adventure activity.

If you cannot confidently and adequately perform the following skills you should definitely choose the guided package:

  • Wet exits
  • Self and assisted rescues
  • Launching and landing in all conditions
  • Navigation using marine charts
  • Reading and understanding weather and its effects on sea state
  • Identifying potential marine hazards including boat traffic, tides and currents, and how to avoid these hazards and minimize risks on the water

Our guides are all professional and certified by the Sea Kayak Guide’s Alliance of British Columbia, ​and have years of experience and formal training with all the above and more.

One direct benefit for guided guests are the many learning opportunities that present themselves over the course of the trip, and our guides are always happy to share their knowledge and skills with our guests.

A guest travels to Cabana Desolation Eco Resort by sea kayak
Paddling between islands in Desolation Sound

Route Planning

Many people can read a map and paddle in a straight line from A to B. However without the local knowledge that a guide brings, most casual sea kayakers have no way of knowing where the currents are strong and at what time, or the routes off the beaten path, or how the weather is likely to affect the sea state along the way, or where the best lunch spots are on this rocky coastline, or which area of the inlet​ has the best marine life, or …. well, you get the point!

Our guides can help plan and interpret all this and more, and can help take the stress out of exploring this beautiful and diverse area so you don’t miss out on anything!

Interpretation & Local Knowledge

Desolation Sound is home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife – from the microscopic to the very, very large – and has a rich and fascinating history – from thousands of years of native culture and occupation to the arrival of George Vancouver, hippie draft dodgers and modern eclectic characters from all walks of life. Imagine the sights and stories you are missing out on if you head out to explore this area on your own!

Our guides are professional, fun, safe, and extremely knowledgable and passionate about Desolation Sound, and they’re pretty good company as well!

A guide holds a sea cucumber for guests to observe in Desolation Sound
Two attractive Powell River Sea Kayak guides on a guided kayak tour in Desolation Sound

Measure of Insurance

If you choose the unguided package, it is akin to renting kayaks – that is, you are managing your own risks and making choices throughout each day without outside guidance.

On guided trips, we​ plan for risks to help avoid them, and at the end of the day, we take the responsibility as a company for ensuring the safe arrival and return of our guests from Cabana Desolation.

On a self-guided trip, you are responsible for yourselves on the water. Whatever may happen, including an unplanned motor vessel pickup or evacuation, the burden of planning and any costs associated are on the guest.

In a sense, a guided package offers a degree of insurance for such scenarios should they arise.

Still want to go Unguided?

Hey, we get it: some of us are independent travellers and don’t do well with the ‘packaged tour’ idea.

While we believe – and have been told – that our guided trips to Desolation Sound are anything but your standard, rigid, pre-planned tour, the lure of personal freedom and solitude during a vacation to Desolation Sound is often a pretty tempting idea.

At the end of the day, your safety and enjoyment of the experience is our number one concern! The one main question you need to ask yourself – and indeed we will be asking you ourselves – is whether you are equipped with the knowledge, skill, and practice to identify and avoid hazards without a guide, and most importantly, the ability to rescue yourself and others in the case of an accidental capsize.

A good place to start is to have a good read of our very detailed Rentals page, which includes information on everything you need to know to travel self-guided into Desolation Sound.