Skookumchuck: Riding the Tidal Rapids

© Imaginexxus LLC

Location. Location. Location. It’s a mantra for housing, business and thrill seekers.

Skookumchuck Narrows’ unique geography and tidal action attracts expert kayakers to its playground. This skinny entrance to British Columbia’s Sechelt Inlet provides a twice-daily phenomenon when calm water totally reverses course.

The result? Over 200 hundred billion gallons of water rushes through the constricted channel around 20 miles per hour during the hour-long high tidal period. This creates some of the world’s fastest tidal rapids earning it the Chinook name of Skookumchuck—strong waters.

We joined a dozen spectators on the shore to watch the Man vs. Nature show. Kayakers contended with nine-foot tall rapids, plus dangerous whirlpools churning below. Many paddled hard to ride the standing wave, while others tried moves with creative names like the Mad Hatter or Space Godzilla. Gradually the water lowered, as if someone flipped a switch, until it was flat again. Playtime was over. Until tomorrow.

If you enjoyed this story in our series, you may also enjoy two others set in British Columbia. One is focused on the beauty of the Howe Sound and the other highlights the importance of the ferries to the Gulf Islands. You may also want to check out our travel books using our theme, A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Characters.™ Each impression features an original photo and a story that’s exactly 1,000 characters long.