What Kayak Expedition is Best for Me? WWE’s Guide to Smooth Paddling
Deciding upon the best kayaking trip for you can be determined by a few, honest questions. Do you want to paddle or dabble?
- What kind of experience do you have? Are you willing to take a training course in advance or would you prefer to learn skills within the trip itself?
- Do you want a solo or tandem kayak experience?
- Do you want the focus of the trip (and main transport) to be kayak-centric or more of a sampler with shorter kayaking stints and other activities mixed in the itinerary?
- Do you want to camp or sleep in a real bed at the end of the day?
Of course there are no right answers to the questions above–however, the answers will point you in different directions from Croatia to Antarctica! For a sneak peek at our most kayak-y itineraries, you can dip into this feature that categorizes our trips based on the main activity. Here are a few things you should also consider first.
Where can I learn how to put on a skirt before the trip?
The Ontario Sea Kayak Centre (Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada) offers several women-only skill development courses including Paddle Canada Level 1 Sea Kayak Skills (2 days), Paddle Canada Level 2 Sea Kayak Skills and Wilderness Camping (6 days). For keen greenhorns, these “front-loading” courses are all about building confidence through skill development.
If you’re looking for opportunities closer to home, REI offers women-only learn to kayak half day events, kayak safety and rescue technique classes, full day introduction to kayak touring and coastal kayaking classes. Your local pool or YWCA/YMCA may offer clinics as well. Be on high alert for nearby paddling festivals or ask your local outfitter, marina or outdoors club.
Solo vs. Tandem
If you are confident in the water and know what a wet exit is all about, you’re probably interested in a trip where you can paddle solo within a group. Tandem kayaks allow for stronger paddlers to pair with new kids on the block which can make the first few trips out less intimidating. Tandem kayaks are often the sit-on-top style versus the cockpit of a sea kayak. Tandems are perfect if you are a little claustrophobic, long-legged or nervous around water.
For those who just want to try it, but not every single day!
The bonus of our trips that include multiple activities means that you can try combinations of biking, hiking and paddling all in one go. Here’s a cheat sheet to our trips with short kayaking opportunities. Instead of ordering the 8oz. Burger, here are two perfect slider-size experiences we offer:
Scotland: Take part in a half-day guided sea kayak trip in Arisaig Skerries on the Highlands Hiking Adventure. There are intimate coves, rock skerries, pristine sandy beaches and a resident colony of curious seals.
Croatia: Have your introduction to paddling tandem (sit-on-top style) kayaks in the Adriatic! In Zdrilca Bay, there are numerous coves to poke around, some in the shade of ancient pines. There will be time to chill and swim or snorkel too. Slowly kayak back to Hvar in the late afternoon and expect to be in the saddle for 3-4 hours with breaks on the Charms of Croatia adventure.
Chile: After a scenic picnic lunch, slide kayaks into the glass-like Lake Pehoé to navigate around icebergs and marvel at the crystalline facade of Glacier Grey on our Torres del Paine Multisport Adventure. This 30m (98ft) tall glacier is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and measures around 6km (3.7 miles) wide. Yep, it’s a jaw-dropper. Note: you will be provided with a wetsuit, boots, waterproof jacket, helmet, skirt, life jacket and a paddle with built-in gloves for this glacier paddle!
If you want a lot of time in the cockpit…
Deciding where you want to sleep a night will quickly determine your shortlist. If you want a trip that revolves around kayaking but camping is something you laugh about with your chiropractor as memories from the bygone years, WWE’s Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre Kayak will be just your speed as you’ll bed down in an actual bed each night. (*You’ll have the opportunity to kayak solo on this one but are expected to take turns in the tandems as well.)
For a combination of hotel beds and camping, the Baja Kayak and Whale Adventure lets you do the bounce between both with canyon camping near the hot springs and some hotel mattress luxury. This trip includes 2 days exploring and camping on Espiritu Island and countless opportunities for up close and personal wildlife sightings above and below your kayak!
The Galapagos Islands Kayak Adventure is a very intimate way to observe the flora and fauna of the isles. You’ll see Blue-footed boobies, prehistoric marine iguanas and fire engine red Sally lightfoot crabs by tandem kayak around San Cristobal, Punta Estrada with a dramatic coastline paddle to Puerto Grande to set up camp on the porcelain-white sand beach. (*Two nights camping, 7 nights hotel beds!). You’ll clock a lot of nautical miles on this one!
If you want to be full on with your wild wilderness experience and howl at the moon, consider the Georgian Bay Culinary, Kayak and Yoga Escape based in rugged and remote Ontario, Canada.
Kayaking in Antarctica? Really?
According to Dympna Hayes, a Wild Women guide and co-owner of the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre (OSKC is one of the leading paddling schools in Canada), the safest place in the world to kayak is Antarctica. “It’s the easiest conditions! There are no waves and because of the calmness, the group doesn’t get separated. It’s super safe because everyone is wearing a drysuit and the kayaks are tandem.
Seasoned and novice kayakers alike can enjoy the serenity and safety of this region with boat support. Kayakers will never go out in windy conditions (it has to be under 15 knots), women are picked up at the gangway, get in a Zodiac and the kayaks are towed to a quiet, sheltered area.
There’s no obligation to kayak everyday either–you can always opt for a shore excursion instead! Choose from a sit-on-top paddling excursion or sea kayaking option on the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica: Explorers and Kings trip.
You can read more about Wild Women guide and OSKC Dympna Hayes and what floats her boat here!
*Remember, Mother Nature ultimately controls all of our kayaking trips and if she has a few knots in her hair and it’s too windy and deemed unsafe by our partners to paddle, an alternate activity will be offered and fingers will be crossed to go at the next available opportunity.