What is House-boating & Why do it on the Shuswap?

Categories: Canadian Travel

House-boating, what’s that? Do you like being on the water? Do you like sunshine, beaches, sun-tanning and water sports? Do you like getting beyond the end of the road and into the wilderness, while still being just a little pampered? Does the idea of taking your private cabin with you to a different beach every night appeal to you?


All of these are what you get on a houseboat vacation. And the best place in Canada to do that is on Shuswap Lake in the sunny interior of British Columbia. Here you also get the bonus of nestling your little hideaway amongst the towering mountains of the Monashee Range.

House-boating was popularized in Canada three decades ago and continues to be a highly sought-after summer vacation option. Shuswap Lake quickly became the destination of choice, and remains “the house-boating capital of Canada ” (as the sign outside Sicamous, acknowledges).

What makes house-boating so popular? It’s because it is the perfect blend of all the different ingredients mentioned above. Houseboats typically have cozy but comfortable accommodations for up to 25 guests, well equipped kitchens, large open living rooms, several bathrooms, front, back and roof-top decks, a hot tub, a slide, a barbeque, and full electric power. There’s plenty of room to relax but balanced with tons of water activity options. It’s a great way to spend a day, or a week.

Why is the Shuswap among the world’s best lakes for house-boating?
– First, the lake is 310 sq. km. in size, with 600 km. of shoreline. Shaped somewhat like the letter “H,” it has four major arms to explore. Despite many houseboats on the lake at the same time, it is easy to get away and find your solitude.
– Second, the water is warm. BC’s interior gets very hot in summer, and the lake, despite its depth–Shuswap Lake is an average of 61.5 m. deep–develops a warm surface layer.
– Third, there are almost too many beaches to count, so you’ve always got a great place to relax and/or explore. Pull up to any of them, and stake your temporary claim. All houseboats must be pulled up to a beach every night, as you cannot anchor a boat in such deep water. But the beach is probably where you want to be, anyways.
– Fourth, the lake has almost all the services you will ever need, not only on shore, but also on a floating marina near the centre of the Lake. There is cellular service over most of the Lake, but, of course, you can choose to shut off your devices, go up Anstey or Seymour Arms, and simply escape civilization for a while.
– Fifth, there are great hiking trails to explore on shore, including several to gorgeous waterfalls.
– Sixth, there are rentals available for those water activities you may like in both Sicamous and Salmon Arm, the two major centres of the region. Tow a personal watercraft or ski-boat behind, to get the blood pumping, or a dinghy, to hook a fish on the end of your line.
– Seventh, because the boats hold large groups of people, it’s a great opportunity to connect and build relationships with family and friends—and develop new ones. Many a family gathering, bachelor’s or bachelorette’s party, or even work conferences, have taken place on a houseboat.
– Eighth, it’s an inexpensive vacation when you split the cost among the whole group.

Whether it’s solitude, partying with your buds, water-sports or simply togetherness with family and friends, your houseboat experience is a unique way for families and friends to create memories together, off the beaten path.

West Adventures is the only tour company that gives guests a taste of the Shuswap house-boating experience as part of their packaged trip. The BC & Rocky Mountains Spectacular, the Grand Rockies Circuit, the Okanagan Escape, and the Southwest Sampler all include an overnight on the Remote Escape houseboat, arriving around 1 pm and staying over until the next morning around 10 am. Before and after you also have the opportunity to explore the quaint area of Sicamous, including a moonshine distillery and a dairy where you can try some of the finest ice-cream around.

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