Kayaking is a relatively easy sport to begin – with just a simple lesson and understanding of the technique you’ll be ready to get in the water and start paddling. Although it doesn’t take long to start paddling, perfection does take some time, and beginners usually do best in protected waters with small waves like lakes or bays. But who said you need to go into rapids to have an adventure? These kayaking spots aren’t just perfect for beginners, they also provide a rare glimpse into all the wonders nature has to offer, some of which you’d never be able to see without a boat.
Marble Chapels, Chile
Thinking of chapels in Latin America might conjure up images of incredible colonial architecture, but the Marble Chapels or Capillas de Marmol weren’t created by humans – these natural occurring marble caves located in one of Latin America’s largest lakes, General Carrera, formed over thousands of years. From above, their just large standing rocks covered with plant life along the shoreline, but from the view of a kayak you’ll have an incredible view of striped and swirling blues of different shades intermixed with greens and whites illuminated by the cool turquoise waters below. Although the lake is large, the waves around the chapels are calm and tranquil, perfect for beginners.
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
If you like losing yourself in nature, venture into Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand. The jade colored water dotted with islands, mangroves, and coral reefs aren’t the only draw. The bay is surrounded by verdant green hills with incredible flora and fauna, including monitor lizards, otters, and small macaque monkeys. The bay itself is renowned for incredible karsts, limestone cliffs, and caves you can explore in your kayak to see bats and hidden gems. The bay is has shallow waters that make paddling easy, even for first-timers.
Ba Be Lake, Vietnam
Similar to Phang Nga Bay, Ba Be Lake features limestone karsts and incredible natural finds. Inside a protected park, the lake is calm, and perfect for beginners to explore. Weaving through the prominent karsts and marvel at their towering, sheer cliff sides, visiting small fishing villages along the banks, and exploring hidden caves with impressive stalactites are just some of the highlights of this kayaking spot.
Johnstone Strait, Canada
There are a lot of reasons to visit Vancouver Island, but kayakers of all levels flock there year-round to get a rare glimpse of wild Orcas, which frequent the strait in summer. Although you’ll be kayaking in the sea, the waves are relatively calm since the strait is narrow and protected by scattered islands. Avoid going in winter when there might be ice and other obstacles and make sure to check the wind and water conditions before heading out. Not only will you be able to get the best view of Killer whales in their natural habitat, you’ll also see a variety of birds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions.
Sea of Cortez, Mexico
If Orcas interest you, head further south to warmer waters in the Sea of Cortez, otherwise known as the Gulf of California. The land might be a desert, but the water is an abundance of life. You’ll have the chance to kayak alongside dozens of species of whales, including gray, blue, and humpback whales, which inhabit the area almost all year, although the best time to go is between January and March.
Glacier Bay, U.S.
Although you might be able to see whales at Glacier Bay as well, this beginner kayaking spot has a slightly different appeal. Located in a remote national park, the freezing water of this far northern bay might deter some beginners, but it’s also calm and home to some of the most spectacular sights, including the glaciers it’s named for. Breathtaking views of floating ice, cool blue and white glaciers, snowcapped mountains, and a profound calm will awe and inspire you. Just make sure to bundle up.
Katherine River, Australia
Located in Nitmiluk National Park in Northern Australia, Katherine River is over 200 miles long and winds through a series of gorges and by several waterfalls. This picturesque location, surrounded by monitor lizards, crocodiles, kangaroos, and hundreds of bird species varies between peacefully calm sections surrounded by trees and muddy banks, passes through steep, rocky cliffs, and some small rapids. The river is usually suitable for beginners but make sure you have a good map to avoid any of the faster sections if you aren’t ready for the current. This may also be a great location to try going through rapids with a guide for the first time.
The fjords in western Norway are living testaments to the immense power of nature, and a humbling sight for any kayaker. Glaciers made these incredible waterways, cutting through unbelievably high, snow-topped cliffs. Most of the fjords are protected, and so calm they resemble glass-like mirrors instead of part of the sea. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time to an earlier century as you pass by glaciers, waterfalls, and eagles on your journey. For a particularly easy fjord, beginners can go to Fjaerland or Flam.
When you think of kayaking, you probably imagine a more remote, natural location, but don’t forget it might be one of the best ways to see some cities as well, especially Venice. The extensive canal system of this sinking, historic city is perfect for paddling. Although many visitors use the traditional boat taxis to get around, using a canoe may give you more control to explore and Venice from a new perspective.
Dordogne River, France
This 310 mile-long river gives kayakers a rare view of the countryside, historic buildings, castles, gorges, forested hills, and quaint country homes. Some parts of the river may not be as suitable for absolute beginners, since the current can pick up, but several dammed sections are perpetually calm and perfect for sightseeing.
The best part about kayaking is that even beginners can see amazing sights and natural wonders as they learn the ropes and improve their skills. Many are happy just to bask in the calm tranquility of calm waters forever. However, f you have a particularly adventurous spirit, you can start venturing out into more difficult currents and the stronger waves of turbulent rivers and ocean as you progress.
image licensed via Deposit Photos