Famous Canadian rapids draw international thrill-seekers

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It’s considered a great whitewater wonder of the world. The Skookumchuck Narrows located on the Sunshine Coast is one of the greatest natural spectacles in British Columbia.

Two-hundred billion gallons of water flows through the Skookumchuck Narrows daily, connecting Sechelt and Jervis Inlets. As the water flows, it makes its way over one particular narrow and shallow area. As the current rushes through this spot, it is accelerated and pushed up over the shallow shelf. The result is the formation that is known as the Sechelt Rapids.

Throughout the day, though, the tide changes and the flow of the saltwater here switches. As a result the rapids actually change direction twice a day.

The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other sometimes exceeds 9 ft in height, and the current’s speed can get up to 17 knots.

“Skook” or “The Skooks”, as it has been nicknamed, has become such a famous phenomenon, that it has attracted thrill-seekers from around the world. Surfers, paddleboarders, and even kayakers go there to test their skills. The Weather Network recently had the chance to catch up with professional kayaker and guide, Justine Curgenven, to see what makes this place so special.

“This is an amazing feature,” she said. “I have kayaked all over the world and there are standing waves in other parts of the world, which are pretty cool, but from my experience, this is pretty amazing.”

Curgenven would know. She has been kayaking for over 20 years and has accomplished incredible feats, like kayaking around Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. She also kayaked 2500 kilometres around the Alaskan Peninsula and calls kayaking her obsessions.

Justine adds that another feature that makes Skookumchuck Narrows and the Sechelt Inlet so special is that, unlike other remote areas on the ocean, people can actually go there and watch the show.

A short 4-kilometre hike through the beautiful Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park will eventually bring you to Roland Point, where crowds gather to watch the kayakers spin and flip and carve the wave.

If seeing the rapids is on your bucket list, just make sure you check the best viewing times before you head out because once high tide comes to an end, the wave actually disappears and the water is calm. In the meantime, you can watch the video above for a closer glimpse!

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