The Okanagan Valley is almost dry enough to be called a desert. Beloved by thousands of visitors and inhabitants alike for the unparalleled variety of its climate and landscape, the Okanagan Valley is a perfect boating and sailing destination.
Truly one of the most desirable locales in British Columbia for year-round outdoor fun, the warm, dry climate of the sunny Okanagan valley provides great recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, sailing, houseboating, swimming, waterskiing, paddling and all waterborne activities.
Watersport is a big part of daily life in the Okanagan, and watersport centres offer an extensive selection of water sport equipment for rental, including Seadoos, jet skis, cruise boats, houseboats, fishing boats, windsurfers, pedal boats, canoes, tubes, knee boards, wake boards, waterskis … and more.
Houseboating is one of those vacations that offers it all. Enjoy the houseboat by day as a home base for exploring, for water sports, swimming or fishing. By night, tie up in a secluded cove, and while steaks are sizzling on the barbeque, you can fish from the stern. As evening wears on, watch the moonlight reflecting on the water, as dazzling stars appear. The possibilities are endless, the choice is yours, and you are the Captain.
The Okanagan boasts dozens of lakes, the largest of which are Okanagan Lake, which dominates the Okanagan region, Skaha Lake, Wood Lake, and Kalamalka Lake.
Okanagan Lake is a boating and sailing paradise, with many picturesque sheltered coves and bays, and good marina facilities. Surrounded by semiarid hills and plateaus, summer water temperatures reach 24 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit). Okanagan Lake is approximately 100 miles (160 km) long, with more than 220 miles (350 kilometres) of shoreline to explore.
Dozens of parks surround Okanagan Lake, an outdoor adventure playground where the only difficulty is deciding what to do with your time. Beaches play an integral part in boating and sailing, and the valley has no shortage of good, sandy beaches. Christie Memorial Provincial Park is a very popular day-use site on Skaha Lake, located at the town of Okanagan Falls on Hwy 97.
There are three developed beaches on Okanagan Lake at Kickininee Provincial Park: Kickininee, Pyramid, and Soorimpt (which features a boat launch). Take Hwy 97 about 9 miles (14.5 km) north of Penticton and bring your snorkelling gear to explore the lake’s treasures.
Sun-Oka Beach Provincial Park, 4 miles (6 km) south of Summerland on Hwy 97, has one of the most superb beaches in the valley and features two public boat launches nearby. Its name combines the words ‘sunny’ and ‘Okanagan.’
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, on the northeast shore of Kalamalka Lake (Lake of a Thousand Colours), has year-round appeal, especially if you’re looking for a north Okanagan getaway that doesn’t involve really getting away. From the spectacular wildflower display in the spring to the relative seclusion of the beaches and boating spots in summer, this park is a favourite with boaters and visitors year-round.
Mara Provincial Park, at Mara Lake north of Enderby, has a broad beach and boat launch. Take Hwy 97A to reach the park, which is situated along the east side of Mara Lake.
Okanagan Lake Provincial Park on the west side of Okanagan Lake is a well-developed site, with sandy beaches along the lake backed by uplands of ponderosa pine and sagebrush. There are 160 campsites in two separate campgrounds, 15 miles (24 km) north of Penticton. This scenic park is open year-round and is suitable for day use and picnics, but campers should be prepared for crowds during the peak season.
Across the lake on the eastern shore (accessible by boat) is over 24,700 acres (10,000 ha) of wilderness in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, providing excellent hiking and backpacking. Take Hwy 97, 15 miles (24 km) north of Penticton.
While boating on Okanagan Lake, search for the elusive Ogopogo, a relative of the Loch Ness Monster that is reputed to inhabit the waters of Okanagan Lake. Said to be a friendly serpent-like creature, a two million dollar reward is being offered for anyone who can prove that the famous legend of Ogopogo is real. A replica of the mythological creature awaits divers at a depth of 25 feet (8 metres) at Paul’s Tomb in the Knox Mountain Nature Park in Kelowna.