If you haven’t yet experienced Cowichan River tubing, I highly recommend it. Floating down a lazy river with a drink in hand is the absolutely perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon for both families and/or groups of adults.
The first time we decided to tube down the Cowichan River, we had absolutely no idea what to expect and had all sorts of questions about what it would be like. Now that we are ‘experts’ at it, I can answer a few of the more common questions about this really fun experience.
What to Expect when Cowichan River Tubing
Your frequently asked questions answered
What if we don’t have our own tubes?
There are a few companies that provide tubes for rent, as well as a shuttle service to and from the entry and exit points.
We always use Tube Shack for its great service and convenience.
No matter which company you decide to use, I suggest booking ahead of time.
Are young children able to tube down the river on their own (be in their own tube)?
During our first experience, our children were only 4 & 6. Our four-year-old was quite concerned that he was going to fall through the rather large hole of the inner tube, which of course, he didn’t. The best position for the kids is to lay across the tube on their back using the neck flap of their life jackets to provide extra support for their head.
We did find, however, that they rather preferred to swim beside the tube. If this happens with your own children, make sure to utilize the empty tube to stretch out – your neck and back will thank you!
Should we bring life jackets for the kids?
If your children (or even you) are not strong swimmers, this is an absolute must! Wearing waterproof sunscreen and a hat are also highly recommended.
Should we tie our tubes together?
Many large groups do tie their tubes together, but I don’t think it’s necessary for a small family. We got away with either hanging onto each other’s tube handles or placing one of our feet on the kid’s tubes to keep them close. They were, however, quite happy to be independent along the way too. The only time we were strict about keeping close together was when the current picked up.
How long does it take?
When entering the mouth of the Cowichan River and exiting at Little Beach, the journey takes approximately 2.5 – 3 hours.
Is it scary?
The Cowichan River is tame. In fact, we got a great arm workout from helping speed up the process with extra paddling. There are only a few spots near the end (within the last hour) where the river picks up, and there is more of a current. There are a few really fun sections where the stronger current (small rapids) push you along a little more quickly, but it is very safe and not at all treacherous.
The best tip I have regarding the faster current is to make sure to keep your bum up. Both hubby and I had a few run-ins with some larger rocks. You learn rather quickly to lay as flat as you can going over the rapids!
Will the kids get bored?
I must admit, “Are we there yet?” did cross our lips at one point or another, but a swimming break or even a change in position is all that is needed to combat the boredom.
Should we bring drinks?
Absolutely! While alcoholic drinks would probably enhance the journey, water is essential.
If we do bring drinks, what do we do with our empties?
Cowichan River tubing is a popular sport, and it has been perfected. There are at least two floating garbage and recycling bins along the way. As well, many of the beautiful homes that dot the shoreline provide bins on their private docks for you to throw away your empties.
You might be happy to know there are also a few designated spots along the journey for you to use the loo.
Will we know when to get out?
Along with taking care of any garbage issues with the use of floating bins, there is also wonderful signage along the way. There are signs letting you know approximately how much longer you have to go and washroom and exit signs.
If, for some reason, you miss the large sign at Little Beach that states, “Tubers exit here,” you will be sure to see the mass of people congregating in one spot, all dripping wet with inner tubes in their hands!
- Only bring with you what you want while tubing down the river. There is nowhere to store your dry clothes, towels, money, etc…so keep those items securely locked in your car.
- Bring a rope. Even if you don’t plan on tying the group together, a rope is great to have for tying drinks up.
- Although shoes are not needed while tubing, they are definitely nice to have when climbing the hill at the exit point. We wear water shoes or sandals.
- If you can find a spot, parking is free in and around Saywell Park.
Have you ever experienced the adventure of Cowichan River tubing? Let us know your thoughts or tips in the comments below.
If not, try it out this summer. Cowichan River tubing is an experienced not to be missed!
Book your Tubing Experience here: Cowichan River Tubing
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If one of the parents isn’t going, is it possible to drive to Little Beach and pick up the family when they are done??
It’s been a few years since we’ve done this, and we’ve always rented our tubes which come with a shuttle. However, I do recall seeing several other vehicles near Little Beach when we got picked up by our shuttle. I would suggest scouting it out first, just to be sure the road is still accessible.
Thanks to excessive tubing the cowichan river has become a sewer that has put an enormous strain on fish and wildlife
Only a handful of businesses profit from this mindless activity while local residents suffer losing their summertime of peacefulness
Do us all a favour and fill up the swimming pool in your backyards where you can freely drink and shout out loud with the neighbors…
(see how they like it)
Check the water levels of the river first. When we went the were low and we kept getting “beached” over the rapid’s rocks.
Yes, very good point. When the river is low there are definitely a few spots where this can happen.
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