Developing Kayaking Skills

Skill development – the foundation of kayak safety

Developing good paddling skills and competent seamanship are essential to enjoying the sea kayak experience safely. With training and practice, our members are able to confidently paddle some of the world’s best coastal locations right here close to home!

PIKA actively promotes the development of paddle skills and seamanship by hosting certified instructors who offer Paddle Canada courses at significant discounts, as well as by offering day clinics, including annual re-entry and rescue practice sessions.

Annual re-entry practice is the minimum requirement for members to participate in any PIKA trip. See our Paddler Guidelines. However, members must also demonstrate paddling skills appropriate to any particular trip.  See our trip classifications.

We encourage members to participate in our courses and clinics in order to develop these skills.

For training courses and re-entry clinics, see our trips calendar for dates and contact information.

About Paddle Canada

Paddle Canada is a national paddling association which sets standards for instruction and certification for recreational paddling. Paddle Canada certifications are nationally accredited and internationally recognized.

PIKA is not directly affiliated with Paddle Canada, however, a number of our members are Paddle Canada-certified instructors.

All official Paddle Canada courses are conducted according to Paddle Canada guidelines and are covered by Paddle Canada insurance policies.  PIKA assumes no liability for Paddle Canada courses. Therefore, students are required to register and sign waivers separately for each Paddle Canada course. See our trips calendar for course dates and contact information.

Which Paddle Canada course should I take?

The Paddle Canada sea kayaking program features 5 levels of skill development, with each level being a prerequisite for the next. In addition, there are also teaching certification levels. Some paddlers may come to the course with a lot of prior experience and qualify for admission to a higher level, subject to  a review and permission of the instructor. However, it is generally a better experience for both the student and instructor to follow the recommended progression.

Basic Kayak Skills

The Basic Kayak Skills course is a great introduction to the sport for those with limited or no previous kayak experience, especially for those paddlers who plan to paddle mostly day trips in protected waters. This 1-day course will focus on the basics and cover all the paddle strokes needed to get started kayaking with the club. Take the course, meet new friends, and increase your paddling confidence. Emphasis is on practical paddle skills with 6 hours on the water. Participants will practice assisted re-entries, both as the assistant and the swimmer. Maximum 6 paddlers per instructor. See our trips calendar for course dates and contact information.

Prerequisites: none

Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level-1 Skills

Level-1 Skills is a 2-day course that is conducted in slightly rougher water.  This course is geared more toward coastal sea kayaking and there is a strong focus on re-entry techniques, with students practising both assisted and solo re-entries,  as well as the skills required to safely plan and execute a trip with friends (for example, navigation and route planning, weather interpretation, tide and current awareness etc.)  See our trips calendar for course dates and contact information.


  • Paddle Canada Basic Kayak Skills certification or equivalent skill and knowledge at the discretion of the course director, including the ability to execute a controlled wet exit and re-entry
  • Five kayaking excursions (2 or 3 hours each) in easy conditions

Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level-2 Skills

Level-2 Skills is a minimum 4-day course that provides paddlers with the skills they need to go sea kayaking in class-2 conditions along semi-exposed shoreline and increased wind and sea state.  Leadership, incident management, open-water rescue, navigation, and paddling in currents are core components.

Camping is an optional component; PIKA is hosting an urban or non-camping version of this course. 


  • Paddle Canada Level-1 Skills certification
  • At least 3 1-day-long kayaking trips in Level-1 Skills conditions in different locations
  • Wilderness first aid (16 hours) with CPR strongly recommended

Other Clinics and practice sessions

PIKA is offering a number of day clinics,  including: towing, Greenland paddling, rolling, currents, incident management, and re-entry and rescue. All clinics are taught by experienced club members most of whom are certified by Paddle Canada or the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of B.C.

Who can participate?

PIKA clinics are available to members only. They are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and usually fill up quickly, so don’t delay signing up.  Annual re-entry practice is a prerequisite for participation in all PIKA clinics,  unless the clinic includes re-entry practice.

Paddle Canada courses do not require PIKA membership,  but after you make new friends in the club, we’re sure you’ll want to join.

Once you’ve taken a course, we encourage you to go out on club trips to put your new skills into practice.  As you gain confidence, please consider leading a trip yourself. Trip facilitator training is offered at the beginning of every year, usually in February.

To register for a course or clinic

  1. Check the Trips and Training Calendar and find the course or clinic you want to register for.
  2. Check if any prerequisites are posted for the particular course or clinic.
  3. Email the contact email address as posted in the Calendar and advise that you want to register.
  4. Once your place in the course is approved by the instructor or contact person, you will be given payment instructions. E-transfers are the preferred mean of payment.  Please submit payment within 48 hours of receiving the confirmation. Your registration is complete upon payment.
  5. You will be contacted by the course instructor or training coordinator prior to the course to confirm location and launch times, which sometimes differ from those published in the calendar.

Course cancellation policy

If you cancel earlier than 30 days before the course date, you will receive a 50% refund.

If you cancel within less than 30 days from the course date, there will be no refund.

If the course or clinic is cancelled by the instructor, you will receive your choice of a full refund or credit.

For more information

For more information or to register your interest in any other courses or clinics, please contact our Training Coordinator: