Paddling sports cover a wide range of activities and types of conditions. You can take a leisurely paddle on protected flat water in a canoe, navigate rapids in a white water kayak, or explore large bodies of water in a sea kayak. These are just a few of the options. As we explore the paddling places in the province, we will provide you with as much information as possible to help you plan your own adventures. This does not take the place of the proper training and knowledge you need to plan your own adventures. Conditions change so it is critical that you know your own limits and plan your adventures accordingly. The best way to learn is to take a course with someone who has the experience in the conditions you want to paddle. Check out the training links on our Get Involved page. Learning the hard way in paddling can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal! Check out the safety sections below and the Safety page to get started.
That being said, paddling adventures can be some of the most amazing and profound adventures you can experience. There is something deep (pun intended) about traveling along the surface of the water. It feels like you are getting in touch with something ancient within yourself. Our waterways have been travel corridors for thousands of years while our current highways and automobiles have been around for less than one hundred. Paddling will give you the ability to explore amazing locations that you can't get to without a boat, in a way that doesn't disrupt the wildlife that calls these locations home.
If you are new to watersports, the best way to get started is to go on a tour. Tours will take you to some of he most amazing locations in the province with guides that really know the area. Tours can also help you get a feel for what it's like to canoe or kayak before you decide to purchase your own boat.
Boat and tube rentals are also available at several locations around the province. If you are a beginner these are usually in locations with sheltered waters. If you plan to rent in more extreme conditions, like the Bay of Fundy, you may need to have proof of Class 2 training before you can rent. Either way its a great option if you prefer to do your own thing, you don't have the proper boat, or just don't want to drag your boat around with you on vacation.
For tour and rental locations check out the map above.
Note: The following is meant to be a quick outline of what you need to consider when thinking about safety. For more resources on safety and training check out our Safety page.
Paddle with friends
Don't paddle alone unless you have the experience to adequately assess and mitigate the risks. If you are not sure if you have enough experience, you don't! When things go wrong you are going to want someone there to help.
The weather in New Brunswick is variable. When you are paddling on large bodies of water, wind and waves will be your biggest concern. You need to have the right boat for the conditions and the ability to assess both the forecasted weather conditions and the range of weather conditions that are possible.
Wear a PFD whenever you are on the water. Cold water shock can make it impossible to swim. One of many examples where a PFD can save your life.
There are many different types of hazards you should learn about depending on what type of water you are paddling in. For example in moving water you need to know the risk caused by 'strainers', low head dams, and other obstacles. You also need to understand the risk of foot entrapment. For more details on these risks check out the resources on our Safety page.
Water levels in rivers and streams fluctuate during the year. The water level can make the difference between a nice paddle, a rushing torrent, or a long walk dragging your boat. Learn about what water levels might mean to your chosen waterway. Lakes usually don't fluctuate as much unless they are controlled by a dam. There are several rivers that have several dams around the province. Check the route descriptions for where this might be an impact.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. Tides will not only impact water levels but will create currents that are completely different depending on when you visit. A prime example is the Reversing Falls in Saint John where the whole St. John River changes directions twice a day. Another example is the tidal boar in the Petitcodiac River in Moncton. A large wave makes its way slowly up river twice a day. This effect can happen in less dramatic locations that are harder to notice until it is too late. When paddling in tidal waters make sure you understand the tide cycle and its potential impacts on the waters in that location.
If you are in a location with fishing boats, or other motor boat traffic, make sure you understand the flows of that traffic and stay out of their way. These boat are usually much larger and faster than you are. If you surprise them you will be the one that pays the price.
Be aware of how much daylight you have left. Difficult conditions in the daytime can turn impossible after dark.
Dress for conditions
People can paddle in all types of weather and conditions with the proper clothing (wet suits, dry suits, etc.). Any water temperature below 20 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) should be treated with caution. If you are paddling in cold water you have three major risks:
- Cold Shock
- Physical Incapacitation
To learn more about cold water safety check out the National Center for Cold Water Safety in the US
- Get the training you require for the type of paddling you plan to do.
- Go to the Get Inspired page and pick a paddling route that fits your skill level.
- Take all the necessary safety precautions.
- Go make some epic memories!