Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Vacation Wonderland in the Okanagan Valley

Fall may be here with leaves already turning yellow, but I still have a lot of summer fun to share with you as I try to catch up on our August adventures.  Of all the camping trips we did, our trip to the Okanagan Valley was definitely the most fun!  It was also the easiest one.  We weren't in bear country so we could leave many things from dish soap to spices out on our kitchen table, we had power so we could run lights in the trailer and charge our gadgets, and it was warm enough that we didn't have to bundle up in layers of  fleece or down.  (Yes, in the Canadian Rockies we often wear down coats even in the summer!)  We had a plethora of activities to keep us busy every day from paddling on Okanagan and Skaha Lakes to playing at one of the many sandy beaches. 

Beach fun in Kelowna at the Rotary Beach



We camped at Todd's RV Park in Peachland and while I don't find Peachland to be particularly abundant in family-fun activities or great beaches, it was central and that is why we chose it.  We wanted to spend equal time in both Penticton and Kelowna without having to move camp halfway through our vacation. From Peachland we were able to go either north or south for day trips and do everything on our list from biking in Kelowna to floating the channel in Penticton.

Our campsite across from the playground at Todd's RV Park

The campground was pretty standard as far as RV Parks go.  Pavement, neighbors camping on top of each other, a busy playground full of 8-12 year olds screaming until well after dark, and loud music depending on who you were camped next to.  We lucked out and had quiet neighbors the whole time.  We also had a great site that backed onto trees rather than other trailers.  We really had nothing to complain about during our stay and as I said in the first paragraph, it was pretty comfortable.  Next time I think we'll try to find a campground with waterfront sites but I really can't say anything too negative about Todd's.  Biking along the waterfront path in Peachland each night was definitely a trip highlight as a family and for that alone, I would definitely consider returning to this campground.

Lots of day trips to local beaches!

Water Fun in Kelowna

There were many highlights on our trip and most of them involved water.  Lots of water!  We hit local beaches every day and Noah was in heaven!  The kid loves swimming and had mastered a pretty sweet belly flop by the end of the trip.  He was rarely seen without his bright yellow duckie  and was learning to swim pretty well in his life jacket.  It was great too see him go down slides into chest deep water and then swim back to shore.  Hopefully he'll build on this skill in swim lessons this fall.

Having fun at the Kelowna City Beach and splash park
The famous Ogopogo Sea Monster of Okanagan Lake
Just a boy and his duck

Paddling from Summerland to Naramata

My favourite water activity of course involved my stand up paddleboard.  My biggest goal was to paddle from Summerland to Naramata which would require us to paddle clear across Okanagan Lake a distance of about 5km.  The biggest challenge  for me was overcoming my fear of motor boats speeding straight at me. I knew they'd change course to avoid me at the last second but it still caused me to panic every time I saw a boat coming.  I also had to overcome my fear of waves caused by the wake-board boats.  I learned pretty quickly to steer into the waves or else they would cause a giant tidal wave easily capable of capsizing me.

Paddling across Okanagan Lake from Summerland to Naramata
Reaching Naramata on the other side of Okanagan Lake
Playing at Manitou Beach, Naramata
Learning to swim

Water Fun in Penticton

While in the Okanagan, I also wanted to SUP the Penticton channel between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake.  While you don't need much more than a tube to float the channel, I thought it would be fun to SUP.  Moving water, no motor boats, and a paddle that ends at the best beach in the Okanagan - nothing not to like! We paddled right into Skaha Lake, turned left and pulled up right beside our lawn chairs we'd placed on the beach earlier in the day.  If you want to float the channel and don't have your own flotation device/tube/boat, you can rent tubes from Coyote Cruises. They also offer a bus shuttle back to the launch spot for an extra $5.  We handled our shuttle with a bicycle that we locked up at Skaha Beach ahead of time.

SUPing the channel
We used our kayak for my husband and son
One of the bridges on the channel

If you want to try SUP while in the Okanagan, you can rent boards at many of the local beaches.  Rotary Beach in Kelowna is a good place to start as are the beaches on Skaha Lake in Penticton.  If you want to SUP the channel you'll have to have your own board.  I wanted to do it last year but nobody would let me take a rental board away from the beach. 

When we finished paddling we spent the rest of the day at one of the beaches on Skaha Lake, our favourite lake in the Okanagan.  The water's warm, there's sand in abundance, and beach slides add to the fun.  Just don't expect shade.  Next year we are buying a beach tent.

The kid LOVES his duck!
Beach time is always a good way to spend a day.
Mastering the Belly Flop
Noah had a blast jumping off the floating docks at Skaha Lake
He could have spent hours doing this!
Daddy was always there to catch at the bottom

Our Favourite Beaches in the Okanagan

Rotary Beach in Kelowna - Sandy beach with a playground right on the beach, good place to see ducks, bathrooms and change rooms on site.  SUP rentals also on site.

Rotary Beach, Kelowna

Skaha Beach in Penticton - Miles and miles of glorious sand!  Truly the best beach in the Okanagan with slides into the water, floating docks, snack bar, bathrooms and change rooms.  SUP rentals on site.  While there is no playground right on the beach, there is a playground and splash park at the nearby Skaha Lake Park

Skaha Beach, Penticton

Manitou Beach in Naramata- Great secret beach that sees far less crowds than most beaches in the Okanagan.  This park features a playground right beside the beach, grass with shade and picnic tables (a real treat), bathrooms and change rooms, and a great slide into the water (faster and bigger than the ones at Skaha Beach).  If you are going to be in the Okanagan for a week, try signing the kids up for a sailing camp based out of Naramata.  We saw lots of child sized sail boats docked at Manitou Beach and watched a lesson start while we were at the beach. 

Manitou Beach, Naramata

Planning your own trip to the Okanagan?  Drop me a line for my other local family-fun suggestions.

To read about our  biking adventures in the Okanagan, follow this link to Biking the Kettle Valley Railway Trail. 

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