Kayaking is a fantastic sport and a great way to explore new places.
No matter if you have never kayaked before, or if you are an expert, there is a place and an adventure to suit your level.
We have researched and selected some of the jewels of the kayaking world. So sit back, relax and enjoy our top picks for the best places to go kayaking.
You may also like: Grand Canyon Rafting and Kayaking in Florida
Top Kayak Destinations
Baja California, Mexico
The warm waters of this coastline attract a multitude of dolphins, whales and other sea life. With its long sandy beaches, sheltered coves and lagoons, the opportunity to get up close to nature are abundant. It’s not surprising Jacques Cousteau referred to it as the world’s aquarium.
There are various operators offering guided tours, ranging from a single, to multi day+ adventures that take full advantage of the Gulf of California, aka, the sea of Cortez. Whether you are a beginner or advanced you will find the challenges to suit your level and more than enough scenery to fill your photo albums.
One thing to bear in mind if you decide to go kayaking solo is there is no coast guard and no radio weather reports. Some tour operators offer satellite GPS communication systems that allow them to monitor your position and inform you of any unplanned weather that could pose a danger.
Kayaking in Croatia
Croatia is quickly becoming a sought-after adventure destination. With miles upon miles of coastline, crystal clear waters and lush countryside Croatia is a jewel unto its self.
With 8 percent of the country declared protected nature reserves, there are vast varieties of rivers and lakes to paddle about on. However, even if you are not normally into sea kayaking you should spend some time on the stunning Adriatic sea.
From the mountain and rivers in Karlovac, to the rugged canyons in Krupa and Zrmanja. Not to forget the beautiful Elaphite Islands. Croatia offers kayaking adventures to suit all levels.
Kayaking in Alaska
Alaska may not seem a likely kayaking destination, but with Orcas, Sea Lions, Hump back wales and other amazing sea life to keep you company on your voyage, not to mention the amazing scenery, Alaska is definitely worth a visit!
The Glacier Bay National Park is a fantastic place to paddle, camp, and adventure. You have the option of joining professionally led kayaking tours, where you can explore the 800 mile coastline camping under the stars.
If you are experienced you can hire your own kayaks and just go where the waves take you. Seeing first hand how the glaciers continue to shape the landscape, revealing new lands as they retreat into the ocean is truly awesome.
Ships are constantly going up and down dropping off campers and kayakers at designated spots. So if you feel tired or fancy a change of position, simply catch a ride. Make sure you research what equipment and clothing you need, Alaska is a stark and beautiful place, but if you don’t’ have the right gear it can be unforgiving.
Kayaking in the Grand Canyon
You can’t write about kayaking destinations and not include the Grand Canyon in Colorado. It is a breathtaking adventure. You can make it a 1 day excursion or spend around 3 weeks kayaking the entire 277 mile journey, sleeping under the stars and getting close to nature.
The Grand Canyon is the top tourist destination in Arizona. Originating from the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River flows through the canyon and eventually empties out into the Gulf of California. Numerous tour operators offer a variety of different ways to take advantage of what the canyon and river have to offer.
From 1 day tours to multi day paddle, of paddle and hike combinations, there are plenty of ways to see and enjoy the flora and fauna.
It does not matter if you have never kayaked before, or if you are a pro white water rafter, there is a place on the river for your skill level.
The Grand Canyons is monitored by the Grand Canyon National Park Service who patrols and monitors the comings and goings of those in the canyon. The park service enforces a strict period of between April and October for commercial kayaking adventures. Be wary of booking with any outfit that claims to operate outside of this time frame.
Kayaking in the Amazon
Kayaking this mighty river may not be the first thing that comes to mind for most people, and with good reason. There are plenty of challenges that make this trip difficult and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner. However!
If you enjoy adventures far from civilization, getting close to nature, and pitting yourself against numerous obstacles, then this is a kayaking adventure that can’t be beaten. You will need a very good level of fitness and a tolerance for being muddy, sweaty and out of breath.
Having said all that, the opportunity to see flora and fauna that simply can’t be seen anywhere else in the world, passing villages full of indigenous peoples and returning to a state of nature then this would be the trip of a lifetime and worthy of any bucket list.
Kayaking in the French Alps
Seeing the beauty of the French Alps from the unique perspective of a kayak is an exhilarating experience! From North to South, the Alps contain a variety of rivers, and lakes, that are suited for the beginner to the experienced.
Some of these include the Bonne, which is a favourite among white water rafters.
The Guisane, which has a little something for every level and is generally calmer than other rivers and the Ardèche.
The Ardèche river is not quite in the alps proper but is still a great mountain range for a kayaking adventure. The River moves in a South Easterly direction, before joining the Rhone River.
The majesty of the high sided valley walls and rock formations including Pont d’Arc will take your breath away. The river is suitable for the beginners as well as families. Guided tours are on offer by a variety of operators. If you want to take the river on without a guide you need to make sure you are prepared but is an option.
Kayaking in Florida
When you think of Florida, kayaking is not the first thing that comes to mind. Florida has a variety of kayaking adventures, ranging from the reefs of the keys to the moss and foliage of the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, situated in the center of the agricultural flatlands.
For a gentle and scenic kayaking experience, there is the Rainbow River in central North West Florida. It originates from a magnitude spring, and travels 6 miles before joining the Withlacoochee River. This is a great day trip kayaking adventure. Suitable for beginners and experts alike.
Many kayakers make use of the tour operators, choosing to park their vehicles where the Rainbow River ends and be dropped off upriver. Some bring their own kayaks and just make use of the shuttle service provided, others take full advantage of a guide’s knowledge of the river to point out the flora and fauna they may ordinarily not notice.
Kayaking in Vietnam
Vietnam's coastline and rivers offer kayakers opportunities to see and experience a wide variety of adventures. From the open lake to the caves at Phong Nha, the diverse scenery, clifs and islands will never stop surprising and amazing you. Trust me on this.
When discussing kayaking in Vietnam, you can’t fail to mention Halong bay. This is one of the main destinations for kayakers looking to explore Vietnam. The limestone rock formations that have been shaped by the elements for years have created a thoroughfare of inlets, coves, and caves to explore.
Kayaking in this serene environment is not without its dangers. The currents can be strong and some currents pass int and through caves. If you are not careful you can be swept along. Make sure to consult tour guides and other knowledgeable people before embarking on solo adventures.
There are plenty of guided tours that will not only keep you safe but ensure you don’t miss some of the amazing out of the way places.
Kayaking in Norway
The Norwegian Fjords are majestic and beautiful, but what are they exactly? A Fjord is a narrow lake or sea drain created by water flowing to the sea. It has walls on three sides, the fourth side is the mouth and opens to the sea.
Some of the most famous fjords include; The Lysefjord area, The Aurlandsfjord, The Hjørundfjord, The Trollfjord. These fjords are used by cruise ships but, kayaking gives you a unique perspective.
You can see the fjords in either summer or winter. If you want the greenery and sunshine, summer is the obvious choice. Seeing the fjords in the winter gives you the beauty and majesty of the Norwegian northern lights.
Orange River South Africa
The Orange River is the longest river in South Africa, starting about 190 km (120 miles) from the East coast of South Africa, in the Indian Ocean and runs all the way through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river is mainly suited to kayakers with some experience as there are rapids and fast-flowing currents. Expeditions can last anywhere from 1 to 7 days on average. There are many tour operators, running a variety of tours aimed at different experience levels.
If you are not a camper then this may not be for you. On the other hand, if you like being one with nature, camping, cooking under the stars and above all meeting some great likeminded people, this is a MUST!