North America > Canada

Nitinat Lake: A Kiteboarding Heaven

lakeNitinat Lake
countryCanada
surface area27 km2
maximum depth205 m
average depth76 m
lake typeNatural lake
length23 km
width1 km
catchment area447 km2
altitude6 m
volume2 km3
inflowsNitinat River, Little Nitinat River
outflowsNitinat Narrows
shore length55 km
residence time704 days
average discharge34 m3 / sec.

Nitinat Lake Information and Facts

Nitinat Lake, located on Vancouver Island, in British Coumbia, Canada, is one of the last remaining pristine and underdeveloped places in the country.

Geography and Hydrology

The lake is located 150 kilometers West from the capital of British Columbia, and 60 kilometers South-West from the town of Lake Cowichan. On its Southern shore it is cornered by the Pacific Rim Natural Park and Reserve, which has an irregular coast with lush temperate forests. Nitinat Lake is also bordered by Nitinital Hill on the North, Nitinat Cone on the South, Mount Rosander and the foot of Carmanah Mountains.

The main inflows of the lake are the Nitinat River and the Little Nitinat River. The lake drains through the Nitinat Narrows, 3 kilometers-long narrow tidal passage, flowing into the Pacific Ocean. In the Narrow sometimes tidal bores can occur (ocean waves that travel upwards).

Climate and Wind

Nitinat Lake’s climate has ideal conditions for windsurfing. Between the months of May and September there are consistent thermal winds. The wind blows even when it’s sunny, but it is even stronger when the lakeshores are foggy. The peak winds are between 2 and 3 PM during the summer. The lake usually warms up quickly, but it is important to know that temperatures can get pretty chilly in the evening, even in the summer months.

Surroundings

There are not many towns around Nitinat Lake, which is part of its beauty and attraction. First Nations Village, situated in the Southern shores, has a gas station and some stores where you can buy basic food.

There are plenty of other lakes in the vicinity of Nitinat Lake, such as Hobiton, Squalicum, Tsuiat and Cheewat lakes, all situated in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The nearby Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park has some of the largest spruce trees in the World.

The 16-hectare Nitinat River Provincial Park is a scenic nature reserve, protecting endangered plants such as Scouler’s Corydalis and is packed with plenty of natural attractions.

Activities and Tourism

Lake Nitinat has some of the most consistent winds in the world, making it a prime attraction for wind- and kite surfers. Fishing is also a popular activity on the lake and on River Nitinat. The latter is home to fish like steelhead and salmon, but please remember that you can only fish in the area with an appropriate license, which needs provincial and federal approval. Because of the scenic surroundings, the lake is also frequented by kayakers and canoers.

To access the lake you need to cross a forester road, where you can easily get a flat tire, so come prepared and have a spare. Since it is an active logging road, you can encounter large trucks on your way to Nitinat. There are also a number of ferry rides traveling to the lake, but make sure you reserve your ticket in advance during the weekends.

Nitinat Lake Recreation Site has plenty of campsites, but do remember that it’s a primitive campsite and you’ll have to bring all your equipment yourself.

There is an annual wind festival held every August, which gathers hundreds of windsurfing and kite boarding enthusiasts from around the world.