Sea kayaking to Wood’s Island on the Bay of Islands

Published on June 10, 2014

Sea kayaks lend themselves to anyone that has an inquisitive nature and who wants to see the ocean scenery roll by from a new vantage point. Since you can put sea kayaks on your car you can investigate a wide range of locations and over the years we have taken our sea kayaks all over Newfoundland and even to Labrador.

But most of our paddling has been in the Bay of Islands, which is on our doorstep and we enjoy sea kayaking here since this area is vast and has all sorts of possible destinations. If we have just a short period of time to get on the water we head to Mt. Moriah for a paddle to Cook’s Brook or we head to Brake’s Cove for a paddle near Prince Edward Park and the lower Humber River. Both of these options have been covered in previous Destinations articles and are suitable half-day or evening trips.

Another favourite destination is Wood’s Island if we have more time and the weather forecast is favourable. This trip is suited to more advanced sea kayakers since you need to be comfortable paddling away from shore. It is about three to three and one-half kilometres to Wood’s Island from either McIvers or Frenchman’s Cove, the two logical launch points.

Woods Island was settled in the 1880s and traditionally was a centre of population in the Bay of Islands. However, like many island communities, Wood’s Island fell victim to the government s resettlement program in the 1960s and today it is inhabited mainly in the summer when local people visit their cabins. Just off the north end of Wood’s Island, several small islands provide additional places to explore. It is here the ocean kayak really comes into its own since the water is often quite shallow between the islands and the rough cobble beaches prevent many types of boats from landing.

 On some trips we have paddled to the beaches just north of Peter Point at the south end of the island and on other occasions we have paddled right around the island. If you opt for this trip allow a full day since the distance around the island from McIver’s is about 21-22 kilometres.

On one idyllic summer day we did a circumnavigation of the island and spent a couple of hours exploring the islands just north of Wood’s Island — Puffin Island is particularly worth visiting. And just as we were about to leave, a light north-westerly wind sprang up which helped blow us back to our launch point. But keep an eye on the wind, which often comes up in the afternoon. On another Wood’s Island trip the wind was much stronger and we had our work cut out for us as we had to contend with large waves as we paddled back to McIver’s. For more ideas of where to paddle in Newfoundland see:

Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at