Kayaking peacefully through rippling, clear water and looking for exotic wildlife amongst stunning scenery is high on my list of must-do activities! Sea kayaking in particular gives you a fantastic opportunity to get really close to local marine life, and is one of the cleanest and greenest activities you can be doing!
Since my first kayaking experience in Halong Bay in the North of Vietnam, I haven't looked back. Slowly weaving amongst the emerald islands and limestone scenery is a peaceful and scenic way to sight-see. Off the back of my own growing passion, here's my round-up of the 10 best places around the world to go sea kayaking...
In French Polynesia, kayaking is more of a relaxing pursuit than an adventure sport. In Moorea, you can drift along with the gentle currents and enjoy the crystalline waters - it's easy to see why they call this place heaven. The water is so clear you can see the fish from your kayak so it's a great way to see the marine life if you don't fancy getting wet. Spot rays, dolphins, whales and all sorts of brilliantly coloured fish - a great way to experience the lagoon-life from above.
Jonny has visited French Polynesia and was lucky enough to enjoy a spot of sea kayaking over the reef in the lagoon in Moorea. If you'd like to do the same, he can talk to you!
The Californian coastline offers a wealth of sea kayaking opportunities from the rocky seashore of Santa Barbara to the open water of Monterey. The Channel Islands National Park lies 24 miles offshore of Santa Barbara, close to Los Angeles. Despite the built up coast of California lying so close by, these pristine islands have remained mostly undeveloped and the chance to kayak amongst the sea caves and inlets with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company is one you must take up if you're in the area.
Further north in Monterey you could combine sea kayaking with another of my favourite pastimes - wildlife watching. The native sea otters are a lively bunch and here you can kayak incredibly close to the cuddly creatures with Monterey Bay Kayaks, as well as spotting seals, sea lions and lots of bird life along the mid-California coast. It's a moving experience to be so close to these beautiful creatures and watch their behaviour as they swim amongst the abundant kelp beds.
The clear waters and bustling reefs of Belize make it a prime candidate for anyone searching for a great place to go kayaking - in fact Belize is home to the second largest reef system in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Beginning at the popular Ambergris Caye, you'll first get the hang of your sea legs in the spectacular, shallow waters before moving south to the Great Blue Hole in Lighthouse Reef where you'll experience the intense colours of the dark, deep water.
Island hop down to Placencia where you can kayak along the stunning atoll of Gladden Spit where from March to May, whale sharks can be glimpsed at full moon, feeding in the rippling waters. For the best kind of desert island experience, catch a boat to the tiny Laughing Bird Caye and paddle around spotting dozens of multi-coloured fish before settling on the beach for a picnic lunch in this island paradise.
Elodie recently visited Belize and she has also kayaked in the Caribbean.
Halong Bay in Vietnam was the first place I ever got in a kayak and what a great place to start! High rocky islands are scattered throughout the bay like emeralds thrown into the water. I found paddling between them to be a very special experience, made even more impressive by the local knowledge of the guides on board our Chinese junk boat. We ventured underneath secret tunnels and emerged in enclosed lagoons with high green walls of stone. At the end of the day you can kayak right up to one of the floating villages of the bay and settle back with a beer watching the sun set into the teal waters.
Kayaking in Milford Sound is a popular activity on any visit to New Zealand. As one of the many high fjords that slice through the South Island, Milford Sound is one of the most visited places in New Zealand and a brilliant place to kayak.
Rosco's Milford Kayaks have been operating since 1991 when Rosco, the owner was the first one to offer guided kayak tours of Milford Sound. If you love penguins, head to Milford in November and you can spot Fjordland Crested Penguins both in the water and on the rocky shores. The area is one of the wettest in New Zealand and the high levels of precipitation create both permanent and seasonal waterfalls, including the impressive Bowen Falls.
Koh Phi Phi in Thailand is heaven to explore by kayak. With no pollution or noise, it's easy to explore the inlets and hidden coastlines of the rugged shore by man power and paddling amongst the rocky islands is a great way to discover the area. In Thailand, the snorkelling is top class and in Koh Phi Phi you can do it straight from your kayak. It's a brilliant experience but here you can do even more than that - how about fishing? Using different techniques, you can catch red snapper, mahi mahi, wahoo and sailfish around the coastline of Koh Phi Phi, all from the comfort of your kayak. Not a bad way to catch your supper, is it?
The Maine Trail is a 375 mile waterway along the entire coast of Maine, in the north east USA. With camping available along the parallel shore kayaking into the rocky inlets and bays, past sandy beaches and river mouths, is a great way to experience the great outdoors in New England. The highlight of the trail is Acadia National Park, which it passes through in the northern end of the state. This beautiful National Park is a joy to explore by kayak and is heaving with bird-life, many of which you can see along the shoreline. Only a couple of hours from Boston, Maine has a rugged, scenic coast that is easy to reach but remains quiet and peaceful. After a day's kayaking, hop ashore and enjoy a cold beer and a fresh lobster roll as the sun sets into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Johnstone Strait lies between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada and is a magnet for kayakers looking for a wildlife experience. It's one of the best places in the world to see orcas and you have the chance to paddle among them. If you want to spot an orca, head to Vancouver and out to Vancouver Island where Ecomarine run kayaking trips where gliding through scenic waters with magnificent whales is all you think about for several days. Surrounded by Canada's trademark raw beauty, you'll spend your days along rugged coastlines lined with forest - it's a great way to see the island from another perspective. It's not just whales to be excited about; from your kayak, you could also spot bears, porpoises, seals and dolphins.
The coastline of Tasmania, Australia is an unspoilt wilderness with opportunities to jump into a kayak from even the most unlikely of places. Fancy a kayak tour of Hobart's waterfront, just minutes from the city centre? Urban Adventures can grant your wish with The Hobart Paddle! If you prefer to head into the wild, both the east and west coasts provide stunning views of the rugged shores and marine wildlife that surrounds Tasmania - perfect viewed from the seat of a kayak. Coles Bay in eastern Tasmania is a particularly beautiful spot to enjoy the water - relax as the sun lights up the pink granite mountains and look out for dolphins swimming in the cove.
For clear paddling in warm water, Fiji is an ideal destination. The Yasawas, a chain of volcanic islands to north of Viti Levu, are the best place to get in the water and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Fiji. Only around a third of Fiji's islands are inhabited so as well as sunshine you can enjoy the peace and quiet of these serene islands. Jump into the water and snorkel right from the kayak amongst brilliant fishes and coral of the Blue Lagoon.
We offer a range of small group tours all over the world, with lots of kayaking options - search our tours here and filter them to 'adventurous and activity' to see tours that include kayaking. If you don't see what you're after, we can find something else to suit.
If you like the look of these fantastic locations, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email and we can help you build a round the world trip that includes some great sea kayaking around the world (including in Antarctica, like Andrea did!). Remember, we can make any route, just ask!
P.S. If you don't know what a 'boof' or a 'huck' manoueuvre are - check out the lingo directory over at www.canoekayak.com!