Nitinat Lake is considered to be the jewel of Vancouver Island for kiteboarding. It is an ideal place for both novice and expert kiteboarders to practice their skills.
Nitinat Lake is a tidal, saltwater fjord, 23 km long and 1.2 km wide. The southern end of the lake lies in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which also includes Nitinat Hill on the lake’s northern shore and Nitinat Cone on the southern shore.
The wind on the lake picks up around 11am – 12 noon and brings great conditions for both kiteboarding and wind surfing throughout the day. The windy season at Nitinat (also known as Nitnat) Lake runs from May through September with the windiest months being July and August. During these months a normal day will deliver thermal winds in the perfect 18-20 knot range, and then slowly dies off in the evening. For weather and wind forecasts, visit Windfinder.com.
Every summer Nitinal Lake hosts the Windfest kiteboarding competition which attracts kiters from the USA, and more recently the world. For more information visit Windfest.ca.
(For more photos of the kiteboarding and scenery at Nitinat Lake, please visit the set on Flickr.)
How to Get to Nitinat Lake
Access to Nitinat Lake is by gravel logging road via Lake Cowichan/Youbou. It’s approximately 3.5 hours from Victoria and 3 hours from Nanaimo, and 2.5 hours from Duncan. Make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the dirt roads, as they can be slippery and riddled with potholes.
Where to Stay at Nitinat Lake
The Nitinat Lake Recreation Site provides rustic camping, managed by the Ditidaht First Nation. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spot right on the lake.
The campground provides picnic tables and fire pits at $12.00 – 14.00/night – although no one came around to collect fees when I was there.
A Few Camping Tips…
- There is no cell service, no running water and no power at the campground.
- Nitinat is bear country – be ‘Bear Aware.’
- Pack out your garbage when you leave, there is no disposal services.
- There are outhouse facilities, but it’s a good idea to supply your own toilet paper, as they tend to run out.
- Evening temperatures can vary during the summer from cool to tropically warm. Be sure to bring enough blankets for those cooler nights.
- During the summer months, there is a good chance that there will be a campfire bans in effect.
The alternative to camping is the Nitinat Lake Motel. Room prices ranging from $65 – $100/night. For information and reservations, call 250-745 -3844.
For more photos from my time at Nitinat Lake, please visit the set on Flickr.