Swimming With Salmon On Vancouver Island

Everything you need to know about swimming with salmon on Vancouver Island can be found right here. One crazy snorkelling adventure!

Featured Image: Photograph: Eiko Jones

If you want to try swimming with salmon on Vancouver Island then you’ve come to the right place.

Swimming with salmon is a Vancouver Island adventure like none other.

I’ve snorkelled in the tropical islands of the Caribbean, swam with turtles in Hawaii, but nothing quite compares with swimming right through a salmon run on Vancouver Island.

There are a few different places to swim with salmon on Vancouver Island I’m sure, but here is the one place I know for sure you get up close with thousands of salmon.

5 Things To Know About Snorkelling With Salmon On Vancouver Island:

1. Wetsuit Or No Wetsuit?

If you get cold easily then rent a wetsuit at a local dive shop. We went in August on a +30 degree day without a wetsuit and had a blast. One of my kids did get pretty cold though and would have never lasted the full river run. It worked because we did the same short section 3 times and warmed up in-between.

2. You Need To Be Up For An Adventure

In this particular section, the river runs fast and shallow in various spots, so it is quite the adventure. We have heard of other areas where you can float calmly in a swimming hole with the salmon… well, this is definitely not one of those places.

3. You Don’t Need A Shuttle If You Don’t Mind A Walk

All along the river section, there are access points to city streets. When you have had enough water time, hop on out of the water and find your way to the street to walk back to your car.

4. Check Out The River Ahead Of Time From The Bridges

We found it helpful to cross a couple of the bridges on the way to the entry point to see what the river is like and how fast it’s running. It builds up the anticipation too as you picture yourself going for the big plunge up stream.

5. What Equipment Do you Need To Swim With The Salmon?

You need a snorkel and mask. Don’t forget the defogger mask spray, it’s well worth it.

You need river shoes or footwear of some sort. This makes getting in and out of the river much more enjoyable.

If you don’t have your own snorkelling equipment then you can rent a swimming with Vancouver Island salmon package at a local dive shop.

Where do you go if you want to go snorkelling with salmon on Vancouver Island?

Campbell River is the place to go. Actually it may be the best place in the whole world to go! Have you heard of anywhere else where you can go to swim through a salmon run?

Campbell River is a small town in the North of the Island.

Entry Point: The entry point is at the logging bridge on the Gold River Highway. If there are a lot of fisherman then go to the far side of the bridge, go under the bridge and set off from there.

Exit Point: We floated for 5 minutes and then exited out right before the first shallow section. There is a park you can walk through to get back to the road. We enjoyed the section so much we did it 3 more times.

If you do keep going past the first shallow point and under the two side by side bridges then the river gets deeper and slower. If you do the whole stretch then the exit point is at the end of Maple St, where there is a tiny beach to exit the water.

My guess is it would take 20 minutes to float the whole section and it’s a 35 minute walk back to the beginning.

Entry Point under the logging bridge. You’ll want to be careful on the way down.

Tips From Someone Who Has Gone Snorkelling With Salmon Once:

• If you do have access to two vehicles, then you do have the option of dropping a vehicle at the exit point and drive to the entrance with another. It’s not a huge deal though as you can walk back in 30 minutes. We stashed a bag at the exit with our shoes and some water and a snack before driving to the entry point.

• When getting in the water, be respectful of fisherman. This is a popular fishing location and there were tons of fisherman when we were there in August. It was fun to assure them that indeed there are thousands of salmon directly in front of them.

• It’s best to swim with a friend and stick close together while floating down the river. You do need to feel comfortable in the water and getting up close and personal with both salmon and river rocks.

• While floating, lay on your stomach with your legs straight and arms in front of you. If your knees are bent, they may hit the rocks on the bottom. On the first shallow section after the entry point get out ahead of it and walk around is our recommendation. It looked pretty risky to try and float through it.

• Your window to swim with the salmon is early August through to November.

• Look for harbour seals near the exit point where the water gets deeper and slower, if you’re lucky they will swim underneath you to check you out!

We brought grandpa on this one of a kind adventure!

Featured Image: “no copyright infringement is intended” Photograph: Eiko Jones

Disclaimer: Although the goal of our travel blog is to share our personal travel experiences… we are not responsible if our readers have a bad experience because of our recommendations of a product, activity, or service.


  • We swam with the salmon on the Puntledge. What great experience and swimming and tubing in the river is an adventure . Someone said we were endangering the salmon. What do you think? I don't think so but..... So many tubers and the salmon don't seem to mind. - Reply

    • We are no professionals... but surely taking a dip and tubing above some salmon isn't going to create great harm to the Salmon population... No more than the fisherman trying to catch their limit and eat them. Now if am army of swimmers and tubers were disrupting the salmon every day that would probably be a different story. Thanks for following Traveling Islanders! J & G - Reply