Kayaking & Canoeing

Inuit ancestors created the kayak (Inuktitut qajaq meaning hunting boat), to explore and hunt, travel and survive along the Arctic coasts, waters and rivers that shape our land. Each kayak was custom built of animal skins over bone or driftwood and perfectly balanced to the kayaker. Historically what was once an adventure in survival in the North, can be your Arctic adventure. 

Nunavut is a unique world-class destination for sea-kayaking, whitewater kayaking and canoeing. Our rivers and lakes thaw in late spring and when the sea ice breaks up in the summer 45,000 miles of Arctic coastline await your paddle alongside majestic icebergs, secluded fiords, bays and inlets, past waterfalls and over thrilling rapids. 

Find Your True North in Nunavut

Paddle north of the Arctic Circle in the most beautiful waters of the world. On the ocean, kayak alongside beluga whales, navigate the floe edge around floating ice while spotting colonies of kittiwakes, low-flying fulmars and king eider ducks, stopping to photograph seals, walrus and the unicorn like tusks of the narwhal. 

Canoeing our world famous heritage rivers – the Coppermine, the Thelon, the Kazan, the Soper – make the spirit of the Arctic come alive in the long twilight hours of summer. You’ll experience a connection to the land from gently rolling lush tundra hills to steep barren rock cliffs, from calm lakes to swift flowing narrows and imposing waterfalls. 

With our experienced guides and expert outfitters, each of the three regions of Nunavut offers the polar splash of kayaking and canoeing Arctic adventures:  along the Coppermine River in Kitikmeot, the Dubawnt River, the Kazan and Thelon Heritage Rivers and the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary in Kivalliq, and the Back River, running through both regions. The Soper Heritage River with the countless waterfalls of Katannilik Territorial Park is in the Qikiqtaaluk region.

Canoeing & Kayaking Experiences

You can arrange short day trips or longer canoeing excursions including 200 miles without portage, from outfitters and wilderness lodges in the communities of Arviat, Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Igloolik, Kugluktuq, Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq, Rankin Inlet, and Repulse Bay.

Sea-kayaking and floe edge adventures start in many communities such as Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Grise Fiord, Igloolik, Iqaluit, Kugaaruk, Pond Inlet, Resolute Bay and Sanikiluaq. Whitewater kayaking and rafting runs take place on rapid waterways like the Sylvia Grinnell River located near Iqaluit and the Soper Heritage River located near Kimmirut.

Many visitors to Nunavut choose to combine kayaking or canoeing with other activities – fishing, wildlife viewing or birdwatching, camping and trekking explorations of the land and flora of the colourful tundra in summer. These adventures can include floatplane fly-ins and portages and all can be arranged through local outfitters and guides or at Wilderness Lodges.