Rare is the vacation that offers it all, and houseboating on the Shuswap Lake is one of the greatest vacations known to mankind.

While cruising along the 1,000 kilometres of shoreline at your leisure, pause at sandy beaches, hike up to cascade waterfalls, or explore the many hiking trails accessible from the lake shore. With 12 km of paved trails, Shuswap Lake may also be the cycling capital of the BC Parks system.

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. Think about it!

Most houseboaters are rental customers who have come to the beautiful Shuswap Lakes for one relaxing week of fun in the sun. The houseboat functions as a floating cottage, accommodating up to 20 people in relative luxury, which can be moved to popular beaches, coves and parks dotted around the lake’s shores.

Shuswap Lake is shaped like an addled H and is made up of four large arms: the Shuswap Lake Main Arm, Salmon Arm, Anstey Arm, and Seymour Arm. The product of glacial scouring, that also rounded the surrounding Shuswap Highlands, all four arms converge at Cinnemousun Narrows, northeast of Sicamous.

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Situated at the junction of the Shuswap and Mara Lakes in the Eagle Valley, the community of Sicamous is known as the Houseboat Capital of Canada, thanks to the more than three hundred houseboats that are rented out annually from the marinas on Shuswap Lake. One of the best places to begin exploring Shuswap Lake is at Sicamous, the service centre for Shuswap Marine Park. Marinas and watercraft rentals are located here. For a closer look at the lakes, book a passage on one of the three ferries operating out of this little town, or book one of the houseboats that ply the sundrenched waters of the Okanagan.

In the heart of British Columbia’s famous Shuswap Lake recreation area is the town of Salmon Arm, the Northern Gateway to the Okanagan. Nestled on the south shores of Shuswap Lake, ideally situated mid way between Calgary and Vancouver, Salmon Arm is the largest town in the Shuswap area.

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows, rivers and forests on the east shore of Shuswap Lake, is the lakeside vacation community of Sorrento. The picturesque community has been a longtime holiday destination favoured by those seeking something different. Sorrento is on the Trans Canada Hwy, approximately 28 kms west of Salmon Arm, and 80 kms east of Kamloops.

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is wildly popular. Everything you need for summer fun is right here: houseboating, camping, fishing, paddling, swimming, windsurfing, water-skiing or just lazy drifting is the order of the day. The park is open in the fall during the Adams River salmon run. Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is located at the mouth of Scotch Creek on the north shore of Shuswap Lake.

Take a boat over to Copper Island, just a short ride from the shores of Shuswap Lake Provincial Park. Copper Island offers 3 kilometres of winding trails that circle the island, and a trail up to the summit (488 metres) that provides superb vistas of Shuswap Lake. An impressive variety of plants and animal life are to be found on Copper Island.

Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park is amongst the most popular boating and canoeing locations in the Southern Interior. Houseboat mooring is prohibited on the beaches of Shuswap Lake Provincial Park between May and September. However, there are many areas for overnight mooring between St. Ives and Seymour Arm.

Silver Beach Provincial Park is located at the end of a long, gravel road at the head of Seymour Arm on Shuswap Lake. Its size and distance from Hwy 1 keep many visitors at bay. Check it out for yourself; it’s worth it. This part of the lake is blessed with sandy beaches. Houseboaters come here to get away from it all. The park’s forest setting is lovely – Douglas fir interwoven with aspen.

Paddle around the mouth of the Seymour River to watch the salmon spawn from mid-August to mid-September. Also nearby are the remains of a gold-rush town. Kamloops trout are a unique strain of trout that put on an eye-popping, acrobatic performance for fly-fishers skilled enough to hook one. These wild rainbow trout, native to central and south-central Interior regions of the province, are the prize in Silver Beach Provincial Park.

Herald Provincial Park is also situated along the shore of Shuswap Lake, on Salmon Arm. The park is very popular and fills up quickly during July and August. Campsites are located both at lakeside and a short distance uphill in the cool forest. Swimming, fishing, and bird-watching are the order of the day here. Herald offers some interesting hiking, with two distinct geographical units (upland and flat delta) creating great hiking terrain. There are also Native Indian pithouse depressions, or kekuli, in the area west of the creek, as well as some old Native cache pits. The park, situated on the grounds of an old homestead is worth visiting – there’s a feeling about the place as if you’ve come to visit your grandparents.

Houseboating in other regions of British Columbia