Freedive Canada
Credit: Chantelle Blanchard

Whether you’re on the coast or somewhere in between, there are plenty of watersports options to explore this spring: 

Freediving

Also known as skin-diving, breath-hold diving or apnea, freediving is all about discovering the underwater environment without a breathing apparatus. Gaining momentum globally, including a localized following in Canada, freediving offers recreational and competitive opportunities. Often misunderstood, freediving isn’t just for extremists. Recreational freediving can include training and diving in pools, freshwater springs, lakes or caves. This spring, look to Free Dive Toronto and Club Apnea Sportive de Montreal (diving at Morrison’s Quarry) for information. aidacanada.org; freedivetoronto.comcasm.info

Canoeing

Springtime’s freezing waters should offer no deterrent to participating in this activity. Reconnect with Canada’s history as you canoe down one of nine major river systems in the protected Tobeatic Wilderness Area in Nova Scotia. While coastal and lake canoeing are the most popular styles, why not try canoe-poling or perhaps moving-water paddling or big canoeing? Planning a backcountry trip? The Kasakeemeemisakak Islandson Lake Winnipeg or Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, beckon. ckns.capaddlecanada.com

Riverboarding

Typically the domain of whitewater kayakers and rafters, the thrills of navigating whitewater rivers have attracted a newcomer: riverboarding. Believed to have originated in Europe, it has evolved and made its way to Canada. Using a buoyant board adapted for this use, a riverboarder lies prone on the board while holding on to handles; fins are worn to steer through currents as the boarder rides downriver. This exciting full-body workout requires you to be fit — and a good swimmer. Try the Ottawa (Ontario) and Capilano Rivers (Vancouver). whitewater.cacaprivboard.ca

Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is arguably the best way to explore Canada’s coastal waters. Sea kayaking is exploding in popularity and it’s no wonder: it’s easy to learn and makes the remote marine and lake environments accessible. Consider learning “Leave No Trace” principles while touring, as well as navigation and rescue skills. Try the Broken Islands, near Tofino, BC or Trinity Bay, near St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. paddlecanada.com

Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Melt life’s stresses away with stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). SUP has recently expanded and now you can practice yoga or have a fitness boot camp right on your board. It’s not always about serenity — spring can elevate SUP to a different level. Staunch enthusiasts in some regions of Canada venture out to ride the swells that blow in during this season — or imagine SUP in a tidal bore on the East Coast? Try on the Shubenacadie River near Maitland, Nova Scotia — or on the Petitcodiac River, near Moncton, New Brunswick (if you’re advanced). paddlecanada.compaddlesurf.ca

Skimboarding

Hippy jump and ollie — the sport of skimboarding (and its terminology) is on a growth spurt in Canada. Initially influenced by surfing, skimboarding is closely linked with snow- and skateboarding communities. In Canada, the sport has spread to lakes, rivers and tidal flats. Of the two skimboarding styles, wave skimming is most like surfing, save that the skimmer runs at an angle directly into the waves then rides the wave out on-board. Flatland riders run with and then throw their boards across a shallow pool of water; while the board is moving they jump on it and skim across the water. Where you live usually determines which style you choose. At Spanish Banks in Vancouver you will see people of all ages skimming across the flats, riding the rails and throwing down tricks. skimbc.com

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