Kayaking near me: Where, When, and How to Kayak like a Pro
Water sports are fun, and there is a plethora of diversity in each. To change a bit from SUPing, I’ve decided to talk about the basics of kayaking on today’s review list. Because if you were thinking of trying it out while googling ‘kayaking near me,’ there are certainly other things to be aware of apart from ‘places to kayak near me.’
Things like how to paddle correctly, what to wear, how to hold the paddle, and when to go are equally as crucial as merely finding info like ‘canoeing near me.’
So, with that said, before we go onto the basics and I present you the map with all the kayaking places in the world, I’ll just drop some wisdom here, and I know kayak-lovers will agree:
“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a kayak, and that’s kind of the same thing.”
As you picture yourself with a kayak, just gliding across the calm, glassy water with all the trees around you reflected in it, you will need some preparation if this would be your first time in one.
Luckily I’m here to help you prepare before you sit into the cockpit and create some waves.
First off, as a newbie, you should initially rent a boat or borrow from a friend just to test the waters. If you have someone to teach you first hand, even better! But most importantly, you should familiarize yourself with a boat before you go and buy just any on the internet.
Or if you don’t have anyone to show you or borrow you a kayak, then simply sign up for a guided tour. You will have many experienced paddlers around you who can tell you what to do and who you can follow when in the water.
Or, if you want something even more effective, then sign up for a class. It will provide you will all the basics plus the complete kayaking gear so you can start your adventure the right way.
Then, as you enter the wide world of kayaking, you will have more time and knowledge, and you will be able to think about…
Types of kayaks
Firstly, it’s essential to think about how many times a year you’ll be using your kayak. If it’s just while on vacation for a week or two during the summer days, then getting a cheaper one will be a good enough investment. But, if you live near a lake or river or another body of water and you can kayak almost every day, then making a more substantial investment and buying one more expensive would pay off in the long run.
These types of kayaks are great for shorter trips if you plan on kayaking only during the summer.
If you’ll be enjoying kayaking more often and you’ll be doing extended, overnight trips, then touring kayaks (a.k.a sea kayaks or ocean kayaks) will be the right purchase for you.
So while these 2 are the main categories, within them, there are many types of kayaks, such as:
For a more in-depth run-through of each type of kayak, I suggest reading my latest piece here (types of kayaks article). It will help you choose the best one for you.
Basically, the factors that will determine what you buy are the price and the weight. However, at the start, I would suggest you buy a kayak that’s good enough to learn with, and then as seasons go by, and you paddle more and more, you will feel when it’s the right time to upgrade and get a new more upscale kayak.
Of, if you already have a SUP board and you want to try kayaking recreationally, I have just the thing! Check out these paddle board kayak seats that can be easily installed on your stand up paddle board. This way, you can try kayaking with your paddle board without spending too much money on a kayak initially.
And now that you know a bit more about kayak types let’s talk kayak gear and clothing.
Kayaking Gear and Clothing
Coastguard-approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device) that fits properly
Paddle (make sure they check that it’s the right size for you – link to paddle size article)
Spray skirt (optional on warm, calm days)
Proper clothing: Bring the following for a warm-weather, warm-water outing:
Swimwear or shorts (non-cotton and nonbinding)
Short- or long-sleeve rashguard top (any non-cotton top will work)
Lightweight fleece jacket or vest (weather-dependent)
Spray jacket or rain jacket and pants (weather-dependent)
For more info on what to wear when kayaking check this article here. (what to wear when kayaking article)
Kayaking isn’t limited to the summer season only, so if you are paddling with the weather temperature below 18-20 degrees C, then a wetsuit is also required. For more details, read about the wetsuit temperature guide and how does a wetsuit work. (links to these 2 articles)
Water to drink
Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses (read more on these super-protective, floating sunglasses(floating glasses gear article) and never lose your glasses in the water again)
Watch or a phone (get these dry bags – link to waterproof fanny pack article – to protect your tech belongings)
How to Adjust Your Kayak
When searching for ‘kayaking near me’ before getting to it, first, you need to know how to adjust your kayak based on your preferences. Once you do this right, paddling will be way more stable and comfortable. So, before you launch yourself into the water, adjust your kayak on dry land.
Sit firmly and make sure your butt is snugged well on the seat. For this, you can tune the angle of the seat (if the boat has that feature). And, for full balance and power, you should sit more upright.
Place your feet on the footpegs. You should have a slight bend in your knees. For a better fit, you can adjust the footpegs by tilting them and sliding them along a track so that you can preset your stopping points. Sliding the pegs will make it easier for you when you want to get out of the boat.
For the best control of the side-to-side motion of the boat, as you paddle, your bent knees should be in firm contact with each side of the cockpit. Note that you should not feel jammed in between the cockpit but comfortably snug-in.
How to Launch Your Kayak
When launching your kayak into the water, the first thing you should avoid is dragging it through a rocky/sandy beach or cement surfaces. Especially the hull.
Set your kayak in shallow water. The bow should face away from the shore, and the stern should be close to the shore but be fully afloat – and this is how you set up a perpendicular launch. However, if you have a very long kayak or you are kayaking in a river, then a parallel launch will be more effective.
Put one of the paddle blades under the deck line in front of the cockpit. (The shaft can stick out sideways like an outrigger.)
Stand over the kayak, straddling the cockpit.
Grab the cockpit and set your butt down on the cockpit seat, then lift your legs and slide your feet into the cockpit.
Scoot your butt firmly back into the seat and settle both feet comfortably onto the footpegs.
Grab your paddle and use it to move your kayak past incoming waves and boat wakes. Then attach your spray skirt if you have one.
When it comes time to get out of your boat later, simply paddle into your launch position, set up your outrigger, and reverse steps until you’re straddling your kayak again.
How to Hold Your Kayak Paddle
Apart from choosing the right paddle size for you, holding it right will enable you to make all the strokes correctly and paddle more efficiently without getting too tired.
Grab the paddle with both hands and center the shaft on the top of your head.
Place your elbows at 90 degrees
Then, lower the paddle and check if the paddle blades are in line. If not, you are dealing with a “feathered” paddle that can be set straight via a push-button or twist set in the center of the shaft.
The longer edge of each blade should be on the top so that your blades can move smoothly and efficiently through the water. There’s a chance that you have a paddle with uniformly-shaped blades, and in that case, either side can be up.
The curvature of the blades isn’t as visible, so look carefully and make sure the scooped sides of the blades are facing you.
Relax your grip. Grabbing the paddle too tightly is unnecessary, and it tires you more quickly.
The Basic Kayaking Strokes
The forward stroke Turn your torso, so you allow for the blade to fully immerse on one side of the boat right next to where your feet are. The power move: To create a power move, you should rotate your torso as the blade moves behind you. Then, follow the in-water blade with your eyes, and your body will follow. At this point, you should focus on pushing against the shaft with your upper hand as you move. The release move: When your hand reaches just behind your hip, “slice” the blade out of the water.
The Reverse Stroke The reverse stroke is the essential move for breaking and slowing down your kayak. It can also be for moving backward if you’re already standing in place. Basically, it is the exact opposite of the forward stroke. You simply immerse the blade next to your hip and push with your lower hand. Then, you slice the blade out of the water when it nears your feet
The Sweep Stroke The sweep stroke is the basic move for turning. Just like you would do a forward stroke, you need to alter the blade path so that it carves a much more full arc on the side of the boat. This won’t just push you forward but will much more readily push you on the side which you want to turn.
Places To Kayak Near Me
Now that you know the basic strokes, if you have been wondering about ‘kayaking near me,’ I have just the thing. The map just below shows any place in the world that is marked OKAY for kayaking. You have many bodies of water on different levels anywhere on the globe.
So, depending on where you are, select the right place and kayak away!
Firstly, you should never forget a thing from the kayaking checklist above.
Also, on your first time, do not go far without a paddling buddy. Bring someone more experienced with you (unless you go on a kayaking tour).
Also, for the perfect kayaking ratio for tiredness and optimal energy, do not paddle for more than two hours the first few times. Paddlers often make this mistake when they paddle away initially because they have energy in the beginning, but then they realize that they are exhausted on their way back.
So, until you build up stamina, never paddle farther from shore than you’re easily able to swim. I mean, near-shore areas are more interesting and offer more places to see anyway!
Check the weather, the tides, and currents of the body of water you are paddling in. And know the temperature of the water. If it’s below 28 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit, then a proper wetsuit (link to what is a wetsuit article) is needed.
Also, if this is your first or even third time kayaking, go for a smaller, calmer body of water like a lake or pond that has no powerboat traffic. This will give you complete control over your kayak, and you will have lots of space to practice doing the strokes well and balancing over water.
Pick a windless, sunny day. And if you can’t, then simply start your paddling into the wind. Then, on your way back (when you’re already tired), you will have the wind in your back, pushing you in the right direction. And well, that’s a breeze!
“When in doubt, paddle out.”
Have you decided on your kayaking adventure yet? Let me know in the comments what is your pick and why. I’d love to hear about your experience. Also, don’t forget to visit my Facebook and Instagram account for more cool tips and recommendations on kayaking, paddle boards, and all sorts of accessories.
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