Sea Kayaking Basics

Open water kayaking differs from white water kayaking in a number of ways. First you don’t have the river to push you; you must propel yourself through your own strength. Second, you must sometimes battle waves and currents that are not likely in the direction you are heading, but against you or to your side. Bays are ideal to explore on kayak, no matter the weather. Narrow straights can be good too. The open ocean is hit or miss depending on where you are and how big are the waves. Then again, some paddlers like the workout.

Whether you are whale watching, paddling between remote Caribbean cays, or exploring the Mediterranean coast, there is no end to what you can do and see in a kayak. Trips can last less than an hour to several weeks. Many will sign up for multi-day trips with tour operators. They’ll carry their gear in their kayaks and camp on beaches at night. Others will sign up for a half day tour to explore a lake or bay through their hotel, while others will find a thatched shack on a white sand beach and paddle along the shoreline for 30 minutes.

Sea Kayaking - Beginners

Contrary to what many may think, kayaking is fairly easy and many can hop inside and get started with relative ease. There are difficult locations of course, but for somewhere with flat water someone can learn most tricks in a few minutes. Most beginners will avoid the open ocean, where strong waves and currents present tricky situations, this means that small lakes, lagoons, and bays are ideal to learn and practice. Considering in open water all you see is, well, water anyway, these locations are generally the best places to kayak.

Most beginner kayaking routes are a there and back trip. You will paddle from one point to the next and then return. Or you paddle from one point and your tour operator is there to pick you up on the other end.

Sea Kayaking - Advanced

Advanced kayakers have a variety of options in which to explore. The most common itineraries for die-hard kayakers include multiple day trips. These trips involve covering long distances, often skipping from one island to the next or paddling ten miles from the coast to off shore islands or another piece of land, and usually making the best of rustic accommodations or camping. Archipelagos such as San Blas in Panama or the entire country of Indonesia are ideal for these kinds of trips.

Short trips can also be challenging. The strong waves in vicious straights, like those in the San Juan Islands, should be avoided by beginners but those with great upper body strength can paddle some of the most beautiful stretches of sea anywhere. You will get wet on these trips. You may fall in the water or your kayak may tip. Loads of practice and advanced skills in these conditions are for your own safety and absolutely necessary if you want to "get to the other side".