As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we're focusing on local travel. Here, we've compiled a list of the best lakes for swimming, paddling and admiring turquoise water across the province (and possibly the entire country).


1. Kalamalka Lake (Vernon)


My favourite lake in British Columbia, Kalamalka will make you think you're in the Caribbean. Popular for swimmers, boaters and cliff-jumpers, this large freshwater lake is 16 kilometres long and 142 metres deep. Originally named “Chilutsus,” locals call it “Kal” today. The incredibly green water—tinted by limestone deposits left from glaciers—is the town of Vernon’s main drinking water supply.



2. Joffre Lakes (Pemberton)


Though it’s awfully chilly to swim in, Instagramers from near and far dare to balance on logs floating in the series of glacier-fed lakes along the Joffre Lakes hiking trail. Brave adventurers dive in, while others relax on inflatables.

Note: Joffre Lakes is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider trekking to Garibaldi Lake instead. After a series of switchbacks, you might be tempted into the freezing waters to cool off. If not, you’ll still get an amazing view. Don’t forget your day pass from BC Parks.


3. Cultus Lake (Chiliwack)

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

A family favourite, Cultus Lake is extremely busy on sunny summer weekends. Consider visiting on a weekday in autumn. Hike the easy trail up Teapot Hill, spotting teapots, cups and saucers hidden in the bushes and hanging off trees—I counted at least 50. Then, lay out a blanket and recuperate at one of the sandy beaches that dot this large, warm, freshwater lake.


4. Green Lake (70 Mile House)

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Pitch a tent at one of the campsites on the shores of Green Lake. At times, sections of this gigantic freshwater lake look lime and aqua green. Characterized by warm, shallow water, it’s ideal for swimming, stand-up paddle boarding or canoeing. Keep an eye out for deer, cows and even peacocks. If you stay overnight, listen for the sound of howling coyotes.


5. Okanagan Lake (Kelowna)

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Okanagan Lake stretches for 135 kilometres from Penticton to Vernon. While living and studying in Kelowna, I spent most evenings by the water on Gyro Beach. In the summer, I wake surfed, hiked and wine tasted in the verdant valley vineyards. And every single month, I put on a swimsuit and jumped into the waves (yes, even when the sand was covered in snow!). Year-round, this is the place to be. Don’t forget to search the 232-metre deep waters for the infamous Ogopogo, Canada’s version of Scotland’s Lock Ness Monster.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:

Alison's Adventures


6. Sproat Lake (Vancouver Island)


Along the highway to Tofino you’ll find this prime freshwater lake near Port Alberni. It’s ideal for fishing, swimming and wind surfing. The lakeshore is tree-covered; the water is translucent. Visit the beach at Sproat Lake Provincial Park, follow the trail at the eastern end to see panels of prehistoric petroglyphs and watch half a million salmon jump up the waterfall at Stamp Falls.


7. Lake O’Hara (Yoho National Park)


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Some of the most stunning water in the province can be found in Yoho National Park. Waterfalls, emerald lakes and swift rivers fill this park. Located less than 100 kilometres from Banff, Alberta, Yoho is full of natural wonders, but the most worthwhile attraction is arguably Lake O’Hara. This alpine lake area boasts sapphire-blue water, only accessible via a grueling 11-kilometre (one-way) hike or a coveted bus ride (currently suspended due to COVID-19).

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:

Made to Travel


8. Eva Lake (Revelstoke)

photoParks Canada Jeff Bolingbroke

An intermediate 7.1-kilometre one-way hiking trail rewards hikers with the gorgeous backdrop of Eva Lake. Backcountry camping is allowed, so pitch a tent and stay awhile. This fresh alpine water is located near Revelstoke, one of Canada’s premier mountain towns, well-known for adrenaline-filled experiences.


9. Clearwater Lake (Wells Grey)

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Paddle your canoe into Wells Grey Park for an overnight canoe camping trip. This area boasts 41 iconic waterfalls, including powerful Helmcken Falls. Bring your boat to Clearwater Lake and set up camp on the beach. In the morning, the water will be still and reflective as a mirror.


10. Kootenay Lake (Kaslo)

photoDave Heath Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism

Located in the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains, Kaslo charms with a quaint, small-town vibes. When I was a pre-teen, I attended the Jazz Etc Summer Music Festival with my family. The festival featured a unique floating stage. I leafed through Harry Potter and listened to Colin James with my toes in the sand as the sun's reflection danced on the water. I’d return in a heartbeat.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:

Globe Guide


11. Ruby Lake (Sunshine Coast)


The Sunshine Coast is aptly named. Accessed via a 40-minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay, it’s the perfect place to kayak and island-hop in ocean waves. If you’d prefer a canoe and a lake, drive north from Gibsons along Hwy 101 for 72 kilometres. Ruby Lake is coloured mint-green or translucent blue. The tepid water is ideal for swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, water skiing and fishing.


12. Boya Lake (Tā Ch’ilā Provincial Park)



One of BC’s few northern lakes warm enough for swimming, Boya Lake has numerous islands and see-through water. The marl bottom reflects light and creates the stunning blue-green colour. Originally carved by glaciers, the hilly area offers camping, hiking and mountain biking opportunities from May 15th until the end of September.


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