Italy Kayaking Adventure

About the Experience

The Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre have some of the most arresting stretches of coastline in the world.

Steeped in history (and steep cliffs) the five tiny villages that Cinque Terre’s name is derived from, appear like a child’s whimsical drawing. Pastel-coloured buildings and houses are neatly stacked along the harbours and hills. The uninterrupted seascape of vivid Mediterranean indigo blues rolls out into unmatched sunsets. 

To explore this area by kayak is to experience the undisputed “dolce vita” that is at the pounding heart and soul of this dramatic region on the west coast of Italy.

Warm water, sunbaked beaches, sumptuous regional food and the relaxed vibe of life at the sea’s edge have attracted artists, poets, and writers for over two centuries. Byron, Shelley, D.H. Lawrence, Hans Christian Andersen and Virginia Woolf all came here to distill and write.

Suspended along an 18km stretch of serrated cliffs between Levanto and La Spezia, Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most precious natural treasures. The designated UNESCO World Heritage and national park of the “five lands” (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) also has a secret sixth! These villages are hugged by mountains, olive groves, lemon trees and terraced vineyards. You will feel the embrace immediately.

Whether in the cockpit of the kayak or following the winding alleyways of the ancient cities, surprises lie in wait. Expect an authentic taste of the area’s best wines and menus. The Riviera and Cinque Terre by paddle is an unforgettable way to feel, taste and move through the spirit of Italy.

Please note:  The proposed itinerary is weather and sea permitting which may influence the scheduled kayaking activity. The order of events may be altered to suit more favourable conditions. Due to the nature of the sea and the elements, this Riviera and Cinque Terre experience is always guaranteed to be a unique one!

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Italy Kayaking Adventure

About the Experience

The Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre have some of the most arresting stretches of coastline in the world.

Steeped in history (and steep cliffs) the five tiny villages that Cinque Terre’s name is derived from, appear like a child’s whimsical drawing. Pastel-coloured buildings and houses are neatly stacked along the harbours and hills. The uninterrupted seascape of vivid Mediterranean indigo blues rolls out into unmatched sunsets. 

To explore this area by kayak is to experience the undisputed “dolce vita” that is at the pounding heart and soul of this dramatic region on the west coast of Italy.

Warm water, sunbaked beaches, sumptuous regional food and the relaxed vibe of life at the sea’s edge have attracted artists, poets, and writers for over two centuries. Byron, Shelley, D.H. Lawrence, Hans Christian Andersen and Virginia Woolf all came here to distill and write.

Suspended along an 18km stretch of serrated cliffs between Levanto and La Spezia, Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most precious natural treasures. The designated UNESCO World Heritage and national park of the “five lands” (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) also has a secret sixth! These villages are hugged by mountains, olive groves, lemon trees and terraced vineyards. You will feel the embrace immediately.

Whether in the cockpit of the kayak or following the winding alleyways of the ancient cities, surprises lie in wait. Expect an authentic taste of the area’s best wines and menus. The Riviera and Cinque Terre by paddle is an unforgettable way to feel, taste and move through the spirit of Italy.

Please note:  The proposed itinerary is weather and sea permitting which may influence the scheduled kayaking activity. The order of events may be altered to suit more favourable conditions. Due to the nature of the sea and the elements, this Riviera and Cinque Terre experience is always guaranteed to be a unique one!

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL AND EXPLORATION

Plan to arrive in the vibrant port city of Genoa from Rome or Florence after 2pm. After checking into your hotel room and breathing in the bellisimmo that surrounds you, you’ll have time to explore the network of narrow cobblestoned streets (“caruggi”) and dramatic palaces of the medieval old city. There are antique pharmacies, bookstores and pastry shops that will lure you in at every turn. Be sure to enjoy a frisceu (apple fritter) or gobeletti (jam tartlet), it’s the region’s flagship sweet!

Meet your fellow Wild Women in the hotel lobby at 5pm. Dinner tonight will unfold at a traditional trattoria and wine bar. Saluti!

Meals Included: Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Best Western Porto Antico
Other Notes: Check-in after 2PM

 

DAY TWO: ALONG THE RIVIERA

After boarding the shuttle van, we will drive along the famed crescent-shaped coastline and colourful beach towns of the Riviera. The pastel-coloured villas and surreal Mediterranean blues of the Gulf of Genoa have attracted romantics, poets, writers and painters alike–Ezra Pound and Hemingway had great affection for the region of Liguria.

Our launch point will be at the seaside resort town of Recco–an area renowned for its focaccia con il formaggio. The gastronomic specialty is registered under the European Protected Geographical Indication to prevent uncontrolled recipes. This cheesy bread is sacred!

But first, back to the task at hand–we’ll have an introduction to sea kayaking ins and outs (and wet exits) before paddling off. Our first stop will be in the fishing village of Camogli. We’ll quench our thirst and continue along the coast to the Abbey of San Fruttuoso. In 1954, the ghostly underwater statue Christ of the Abyss was submerged in the sea just off San Fruttuoso, 17m (56ft) below the peacock blue surface. Please note: Reaching San Fruttuosso di Camogli will be dependent on the group’s pace and skill level. We will paddle from Sori to Punta Chiappa and, if everyone is energetic and in favour, onward to San Fruttuoso and back. We will then drive to our peaceful agriturismo to unwind. 

Tonight we’ll sink into bed as easily as our teeth did into the cheesy bread this afternoon.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: oliVenere Tourismo
How much further? From Recco to L’Amondola it’s approximately one hour. From Recco to oliVenere, the drive is 35 minutes.

DAY THREE: PADDLING TO PORTOFINO 

Setting off along the coast of Parco Naturale Regionale Portofino, our first destination is Portofino. We will drive or take the train to Rapallo and  paddle to Portofino. The village southeast of Genoa has been Italy’s twinkly premier coastal resort, attracting celebs (and Wild Women) from around the world. Super yachts converge in the harbour loved for its sunsets, colorful facades, seafood restaurants and genuine “dolce vita”. Ricky Martin liked livin’ la vida loca but here, it’s all about the “sweet life” which is palpable.

We’ll paddle into the harbour and stop for gelato at a gelateria. (*Here’s the inside scoop on some favourite flavours: stracciatella, biscotti, limoncello!). After some photo ops and guaranteed OMGs, we’ll continue on to Santa Margherita Ligure. A short drive will take us back to our agriturismo where we’ll be spending the night.  

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: oliVenere Tourismo
The skinny on today’s paddle: ~ 8 km / 4.97 mi
How much further? From L’Amondola to our kayak launch (and take-out point) in Rapallo it’s 50 minutes by van or train. From oliVenere to the Rapallo launch, the transfer is 30 minutes by van.

 

DAY FOUR: CINQUE TERRE

We’ll drive along the mesmerizing Riviera coast to Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the five ‘Cinque Terre’ towns. The hills are verdant with lemons, olives and terraced vineyards.

We will launch the kayaks into the translucent sea and experience our first big taste of the rugged beauty that is the coast of the Cinque Terre National Park–Italy’s first (and smallest)! The area was protected in 1999 and includes five (cinque!) picturesque seaside villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) that cling to the rocky Mediterranean coastline in a captivating palette. The villages are a marvel of Benedictine monasteries, Roman villas and ancient churches, all dwarfed by sharp cliffs and coastal hills. The sheltered bays and coves below are a playground for kayakers!

Our destination for the night is Corniglia, the most unique of the five villages with a bird’s eye view from the promontory it’s perched on. Surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces, it’s like a fairytale castle set atop the cliffs, overlooking the mirror surface of the sea. 

Basil grown in Cinque Terre is known to be particularly flavourful, making the local pesto a must-try. Anchovies (fried, marinated, salt-cured) are ubiquitous–so are lemons! Try an icy lemon granita–there’s a reason why Monterosso hosts an annual Lemon Festival (May).

For a sweet nightcap, you must try the local treasure, Sciacchetrà. This dessert wine is made with grapes that grow closest to the sea. Classic Cinque Terre wine is a dry, aromatic white made of varietals like Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Hotel Cecio

The skinny on today’s ‘paddle: ~ 6 km / 3.73 mi

How much further? From L’Amondola to Monterosso (our launch) it’s 20 minutes by van or 5 minute by train. From oliVenere to Moterosso the transfer is 50 minutes by car.

 

DAY FIVE: CINQUE TERRE NATIONAL PARK

We’ll continue our intimate exploration of Cinque Terre National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is also internationally recognized as a marine reserve and Sea Cetacean Sanctuary (established in 1999). Two thousand fin whales, dolphins, goose-beaked whales and sperm whales frequent the Ligurian-Occitan basin, including the Cinque Terre region as well, in preparation for the winter.

As your kayak cuts through the warm cyan water, swift as a dolphin, the panorama of Cinque Terre will envelop you, like visual quicksand. We will take time to visit the villages, explore the twisting alleyways and climb up to the vineyards for a view that captures the distinct magic of Cinque Terre. Depending on the sea and weather gods, we should be able to visit three or four of the five villages of Cinque Terre.

We will return to Corniglia, to absorb the marmalade sunset while sampling local wines over dinner on the terrace of our hotel.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Hotel Cecio
The skinny on today’s paddle: ~ 7 – 10 km / 4.35 – 6.21 mi

 

DAY SIX: ROAD OF LOVE TO RIOMAGGIORE 

After a sumptuous breakfast and kicky espresso, we will continue to discover Cinque Terre from the best seat in the house–the cockpits of our kayaks! After passing through Manarola’s waterfront (population 353, plus the Wild Women), we’ll paddle alongside the famous Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane)–the 1km footpath that connects Riomaggiore with Manarola has been closed since the 2016 earthquake. (The devastating floods were in 2011–proving the area’s resilience!) 

We’ll tie up our kayaks in Riomaggiore and explore this bella città (beautiful town) before paddling along a stretch of indigo coast that leads to the semi-secret “sixth village” of Cinque Terre. Rounding the point we will enter the medieval harbour of Portovenere (or Porto Venere), where Castello Doria, a cliff-top fortress, overlooks the Gulf of Poets (how great is that moniker? It’s a nod to all the literary giants who were inspired by the views and muse). We’ll paddle the spectacular bay around the former Roman and Byzantine Empire maritime base.

Depending on the sea, weather and the group’s energy level, we could also circumnavigate the lushness of Palmaria Island.

After landing, there will be time to explore the Palazzata. These connected dwellings are built into the rocky shoreline as part of the town’s fortified walls. There’s also an ancient gate (Porta del Borgo), Byron’s grotto, churches–or, try a slice of Ligurian pandolce (the huge wheel of the classic fruit cake that you see displayed in every bakery window).

Tonight will be our final Riviera arrivederci dinner together. Time just floated by, didn’t it? We’ll be staying at a waterfront hotel to soak up the shimmery views just a little longer.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: La Terrazze
The skinny on today’s paddle: ~ 15 km / 9.32 mi

 

DAY SEVEN: PORTOVENERE AND LA SPEZIA

After a relaxed breakfast on the hotel’s terrace, we’ll transfer to La Spezia Centrale railway station. From this rail hub, it is easy to return to Genoa Airport or continue onward to other destinations in Tuscany and beyond. Because, when in Rome…or Genoa…

Meals Included: Breakfast
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: None
How much further: ~ 9 km / 5.60 mi

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!

Wild Women Expeditions and our local partners intend to adhere to the described itinerary. This is only a general guide to follow on your tour of the region. Our itineraries are subject to change, as we cannot predict the weather or other environmental conditions (i.e. high seas and strong winds that make it unsafe to kayak). In the event that the seas are too big for kayaking, contingency itineraries are prepared and alternative activities will be offered (i.e. hiking the coastline instead of kayaking). We are continually striving to make improvements to all our trips based on feedback from Wild Women members, guides, partners, and other research. We reserve the right to alter itineraries based on the above at any time.

Arrival into Genoa

  • Airport: Genoa (GOA) or Aeroporto di Genova
  • Upon arrival in Genoa, a standard taxi fare can be purchased at the taxi stand at the airport, which is good for your short cab ride to the hotel.

While there are no direct flights to Genoa from North America it is easily reached from most of the major air hubs in Europe.

You may also fly to a major centre such as Rome and take the train from Rome to Genoa.

  • Earliest hotel check-in is at 2 PM. You may drop off your luggage at the hotel and head out to explore the neighbourhood.

 

 

Group Rendezvous Point

 

  • Date: Day 1
  • Time: 5:00 PM
  • Location: Meet your guide and fellow paddlers in the main hotel lobby, Best Western Porto Antico, Via al Ponte Calvi, 5 – 16124, Genoa, Italy

 


If you are arriving a day or two early to Genoa, we recommend the Best Western Porto Antico, the rendezvous point and the accommodation on Day 1.

Departure from La Spezia

  • After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to La Spezia Centrale railway station by late morning. From his rail hub, it is easy to return to Genoa Airport or continue on to popular destinations such as Florence or Rome.
  • Please do not book flights out of Genoa any earlier than 4 PM on this day to allow for return transportation by rail from La Spezia.

 

Drop-Off Point:


On the last morning, you will be transferred to La Spezia Centrale railway station. From this rail hub, it is easy to return to Genoa Airport or continue onward to other destinations in Tuscany (Florence perhaps?) and beyond.If you are looking to book additional nights in Italy and would like assistance, you can contact WWE’s recommended travel agents Megan and Zale at Now Boarding Travel Travel Specialists:Email: wildwomen@nowboarding.travel

You are responsible for booking your own flights or other transport arrangements to the trip start location. These arrangements and any other independent arrangements that you may make are not a part of the trip booked with Wild Women Expeditions and are entirely at your own risk. Wild Women Expeditions accepts no responsibility, directly or indirectly, for any loss, damage or injury to property or person in connection with such arrangements. Should you require assistance with your travel arrangements, please contact:Megan and Zale | Now Boarding Travel Travel SpecialistEmail: wildwomen@nowboarding.travelNote: Now Boarding Travel only provides services of 3-star quality or greater. For budget alternatives, please refer to the Lonely Planet guide for your destination.Important: For international and remote destinations, there is always the risk of flight delays, baggage delays and flight schedule changes which may cause late arrivals, which may, in return, result in you missing the group tour departure. For these reasons, we encourage you to consider arriving a day early, which will also help you overcome any jet lag from traveling!


You are fully responsible for your own visa requirements, permits, and certificates for your trip. It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. It is your responsibility to check with the country’s Consulate and your country’s travel website such as Canada’s for up-to-date information about traveling internationally.

  • Passport

Most countries and airlines recommend passports be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected return to your home country. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Customs officials may ask for a return ticket, proof of the purpose of your visit to Italy, and/or proof of sufficient funds for your stay.

 

  • Visa

Not required for stays up to 90 days

Travel Advice and Advisories for Italy
Note: As fees and policies can change, we highly recommend that you contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent.


Most participants choose to tip their guides when they feel they were provided great service and had a positive experience. We are often asked what an appropriate amount is: most participants who provide a gratuity for their guides and other tour staff, have each tipped in the range of €15 – €25 per day. The guides and tour staff may share the gratuity, although most people prefer to offer a separate amount to each guide and staff member.It is customary to leave a tip to thank waiters, valets, bellboys, tour guides and other service providers. Tips are not compulsory and in Italy, there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.

  • Rooming Arrangements

Our trip prices are based on a twin share, so we’ll either team you up with another solo wild woman to share with if you’re on your own, or of course, you can share with your travel companion.

If you’d prefer not to share a bedroom, we have a single supplement option. This is subject to availability and we will confirm this with you following your request. If you have already indicated this preference on your registration form, you will be emailed a quote once availability is confirmed. If you are now interested, please email support@wildwomenexpeditions.com with your request.

  • Bathrooms

All rooms have en-suite bathrooms.

  • Internet / WiFi / Cell Coverage

Wireless Internet is available at most accommodations.

  • Potable Water

Tap water is safe to drink and we encourage you to refill your water bottles.

If you would like to join Wild Women Expeditions in its commitment to reducing single-use plastic, you can travel prepared with your own water treatment system!

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  • Best Western Porto Antico – Genoa (Day 1)

All rooms are non-smoking, air-conditioned and soundproofed, with 26-inch LCD televisions, free WiFi and a safe. Visit Hotel Porto Antico for more information or to book extra night accommodations pre-trip.

  • oliVenere Tourismo. – Sestri Levante (Day 2, 3)

These villas, now authentic and local agriturismo businesses, were built in 1700 and 1800 with huge stone walls, surrounded by shady olive trees. AC and/or fans in each room, as well as a swimming pool!

  • Hotel Cecio – Corniglia (Day 4, 5)

All of the rooms at the Hotel Cecio were recently renovated and are each equipped with private bathrooms, air conditioning, and other amenities. Rooms also offer travelers a unique view of the sea and glimpses of picturesque Corniglia from the many terraces.

  • Le Terrazze – Portovenere (Day 6)

La Terrazze is a modern apartment-style accommodation overlooking the bay. There is a beach, and pool access as well as air conditioners in each room.



  • Population of Cinque Terre Towns: About 6000
  • Size: The area covers some 15 km along the extreme eastern end of the Ligurian coast, between Levanto and La Spezia.
  • Official Language: Italian
  • Time Zone: Central European Time Zone
  • Highlights: Genoa’s Old City (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Portofino, The Abbey of San Fruttuoso, The Five Villages of Cinque Terre (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Portovenere (on the NY Times list of “Places to Visit in 2013″) and of course, wine tasting and great local cuisine!

In central Italy, the climate is milder with a smaller difference in temperature between summer and winter and a shorter and less intense cold season than in the north; summers are longer but the sultriness of the northern cities is mitigated by the sea. In southern Italy and the islands winters are never particularly harsh, and spring and autumn temperatures are similar to those reached in the summer in other areas of Italy.https://www.theweathernetwork.com/it/14-day-weather-trend/liguria/genoa

Wild Women Expeditions recommends that each participant should bring enough cash in local currency or available credit/debit funds to cover their meals during travel to and from their destination. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, meals not included in the trip package, shopping, etc., and we also suggest you have access to emergency funds.

  • Currency Exchange Offices & Banks

Since 2001, the currency used in Italy is the Euro (€). One euro is divided up into 100 euro-cents. There are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros).

Please check online for current exchange rates. Wild Women Expeditions likes XE Currency Converter

We highly suggest you read this article: Where to Exchange Currency Without Paying Huge Fees for more information about this for your trip.

  • Credit Cards

Purchases can be paid for using the most common credit cards. This payment system is common in Italian shops, which generally display the symbols of the credit cards they accept on the outside door. If you pay by credit card you may be asked to show an identity document.

  • Cash

Cash in the local currency (Euro) is the best way to pay for purchases.

  • Taxes

The standard European Union Value-Added Tax ranges from 15 to 25 percent per country. Exact rates change and you can double-check with merchants when you’re there.


Please be sure to provide complete, accurate, and up-to-date information about your health & fitness level and keep us updated if there are changes. Wild Women Expeditions trips travel to remote areas where limited or no sophisticated medical facilities exist.A medical emergency situation is extremely unlikely; however, should it arise we need to be prepared with the necessary information to help you.Important Note: If you choose not to disclose a condition, infirmity, injury, or ailment herein and are subsequently deemed to be unfit for expedition travel due in whole or in part to such condition, infirmity, injury or ailment, Wild Women Expeditions guides, and partners shall have the right to remove you from the trip with no refund or compensation payable. Any evacuation expenses incurred are payable by the evacuee via their Medical Travel Insurance or personal expense.Generally, our expeditions are intended for travelers in reasonably good health for their safety, along with that of their fellow travelers.Your group will be paddling 3 – 5 hours each day but plenty of time is available to travel and see the sights, so the group will be going at a comfortable pace and enjoying the changing scenery and views. Wild Women Expeditions recommends that in the months leading up to your adventure, you prepare yourself by walking regularly and exercising your arms – carrying items, paddling, using rowing machines, etc., as well as increasing your level of fitness with cardio and/or weight training.

As kayaking is the primary activity of this trip, please notify Wild Women Expeditions if you are a non-swimmer.

 

Getting Fit

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to enjoy your Wild Women expedition. Not by a long shot! You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with our experienced guides at your side and a little camaraderie.

That said, you’ll definitely enjoy yourself far more if you do some preparation so your body is conditioned and ready to enjoy and make the most of the outdoors.

 

Here are a few ideas to help you get ready:

  • Take every opportunity you can to be active.

You can improve your fitness a lot just by adopting some new habits; take the stairs at work, go for a walk at lunchtime, park your car away from work and walk. Aim for 30 minutes a day and keep a diary so you can look back on it and feel proud. These may sound trivial but they’re all building blocks!

  • Take a kayak lesson!

Although this trip is beginner friendly and your guides will lead you through a full orientation once on trip, you should be familiar and comfortable with kayaking before you arrive on trip. Take lesson or two with a local kayak outfitter in your neck of the woods. Even a pool session is good! This will give you the basics, boost your confidence which will allow you to enjoy your trip that much more.

  • Rev up your ticker!

Think ‘interval training’, which means doing short bursts of high intensity work with recovery time in between. Depending on how fit you are this can mean strolling with bursts of power walking, or jogging with sprints. Either way the aim is to get your heart rate up.

  • Join a local walking or running group.

This is a great way to get fit and you’ll also see new places, meet great people… and make them all jealous when they find out what you’re about to go on your travels.

  • Hill training.

The most spectacular views aren’t from the bottom of a valley – so the places we go on our trips aren’t flat. A little time training on hills and stairs is an investment that’ll pay off big-time when you’re on your trip. When it comes to hills there’s no hurry – get into a slow steady rhythm and you’ll be at the top before you know it.

  • Warm up, cool down and stretch.

If you’re doing a workout then make sure you start and finish gently and stretch any tight muscles – this will help you avoid any aches, pains and pulled muscles. If you’re a member of a gym try some yoga, tai chi or pilates classes to build up your flexibility, stability and balance.

  • Hydration.

When you suddenly ask your body to walk or be active, it needs a bit more fuel than it needs when, say, sitting at a desk all day! The main thing your body needs is water, so stay hydrated and practice sipping water often. Getting a water bottle or hydration bladder is a great way to make sure you have it on hand at all times. Make a habit out of taking a bottle of water with you wherever you go.

  • Nutrition.

Eating little and often will keep your body well fuelled for outdoor exercise, especially food like nuts, dried fruit and bread. The odd bit of chocolate and a few boiled lollies are good for keeping your blood sugar levels up while you’re hiking as well!

  • Have fun!

The most important point of all! You are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. You’re going to meet some amazing people, see some wonderful places and create memories that will stay with you for life. The more prepared you are to tackle the various challenges, the more fun you will have. Also, with all the endorphins you create from all this training, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear! It’s a great way to boost your happy vibes.


For general Wild Women Expeditions FAQs please click here.