The past year has been a troubling time for all of us. Most of us haven’t been able to get out of the house let alone fly to another country.
With the vaccine here and restrictions slowly lifting, it is safe to say that life will be more or less back to normal in the coming months. Travel will once again be possible, and we can start dreaming of those once in a lifetime adventures again.
To keep your hopes high and inspire you to plan your next kayaking adventure we have 10 kayaking trips for your bucket list. To provide something for everyone’s taste, budget, and situation, we have selected 10 awe-inspiring locations to kayak in – 3 that are close to home, 4 in Europe, and 3 that are a bit further afield. Enjoy!
Close to Home (The British Isles)
The North Coast Sea Kayak Trail (Northern Ireland)
The North Coast Sea Kayak trail is a 70 nautical mile route that runs from Magilligan Point to Waterfoot at the base of Glenariff. The full route takes 2 to 3 days and you will pass the world-renowned Giants Causeway. Seeing the causeway from the ocean is stunning and taking a gentle paddle will allow you to explore it fully.
You need to have some experience to take this route and you should only head out in pairs or groups. Checking the weather and sea conditions is essential before setting off. There is plenty of information online and you can find detailed maps on Canoe NI. If you live in Ireland and haven’t done this stretch already, you should definitely add this to your bucket list.
The River Wye (South Wales)
The River Wye in South Wales is a diverse river that is close enough to home to warrant a budget week away. There are plenty of routes on this river, and depending on how keen you are, you can fill up 7 days of kayaking. There are plenty of canoe and kayak-friendly campsites along the route and many banks suitable for wild-camping (as long as you tip the farmer).
You can tackle this one with little experience however some sections such as Brockweir to Severn Bridge require a bit more skill. The wildlife on this stretch of river is fantastic. If you get on the water at the crack of dawn each day, you’re guaranteed to see a plethora of wildlife from otters in the water to Osprey in the sky (spring and autumn).
The Great Glen Canoe Trail (Scotland)
The Great Glen Canoe Trail runs from coast to coast from Corpach (Fort William) to Clachnaharry (Inverness). This highland route is full of spectacular scenery. You will travel 60 miles through mountain landscapes, thick pine forests, picturesque villages, and urban towns.
You will be travelling down the Caledonian Canal for the most part and portages are necessary to navigate the locks. You will also pass through Loch Lochy and Loch Ness on the route. This trip is fantastic and takes you through the heart of Scotland. It’s a great option if you are looking for an expedition in new territories that aren’t far from home.
A Bit Further Afield (Europe)
The Soča Valley (Slovenia)
The Soča Valley is arguably the most beautiful place to kayak in Europe. The waters of the rivers and lakes here are gin-clear with a gorgeous turquoise hue. The surrounding landscape is full of luscious green vegetation with jagged mountains towering above. This place truly is paradise for the kayaker.
The Soča River has sections of varying difficulty from calm clear stretches to whitewaters. The River Koritnica is narrow, rocky, and full of rapids. This river is for the experienced kayaker. Lake Most na Soči and Rabeljsko Jezero are suitable for the beginner. No matter how experienced you are there is something for you in the Soča Valley. This place should be close to the top of your bucket list.
The Norwegian Fjords (Norway, Scandinavia)
The Fjords and rivers of Norway are a must see in Europe. The landscape in Norway is out of this world, looking like a scene from a fantasy novel rather than somewhere on earth! Kayaking in Norway is surreal with turquoise waters, clear bays, towering mountain tops, and waterfalls at every turn.
Although we can’t recommend one specific spot in Norway to head out kayaking, fjord country on the west coast and the Atlantic fjords and coasts of the North are the most beautiful. Some of the most famous fjords; Nærøyfjorden, Geirangerfjord, Lyngenfjord, and Trollfjord are definitely worth a visit. Norway is a must if you love kayaking in beautiful landscapes to enjoy nature and wildlife.
The Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers (Croatia)
If you are looking for a summer kayaking trip with crystal-clear waters and warm weather, then the Zrmanja and Krupa rivers in Croatia are well worth looking in to. These rivers are in the heart of the Velebit Nature Park. This place has some of the most stunning waterfalls in the whole of Europe and tourists flock here for the untouched nature.
Taking to the water in a kayak is the best way to see these sights and get out of the tourist-filled crowds on the land trails. Some areas need no experience with drop off and pick up services available on the rivers. Other areas require more skill, and a guided tour will be necessary if you plan on tackling the whitewaters here. If you love sunshine and 10/10 views this place deserves a spot on your bucket list.
Another trip for the summer months is Saint-Martin-d’Ardeche in the South East of France. From sheer cliffs and rocky gorges, to urban riverways and flat open vineyards, this area has it all. Popular among the locals and now more among tourists, the area is full of watersport opportunities including kayaking.
The star of the show here is the beautiful natural stone arch that can be paddled through. Multi-day trips are possible with plenty of bankside campsites and hotels available. Whitewater kayaking is also available through local outdoor adventure companies. This one deserves a place on your bucket list if you’re looking for French summer sunshine, beautiful landscapes, and maybe a glass or two of the local wine.
Once in a Lifetime Trips
Cát Bá in Hai Phong (Vietnam)
Cát Bá is around 150 kilometers from Hanoi in Vietnam, South East Asia. This destination is popular among tourists for its outstanding natural beauty. Typical to the landscape in this part of the world, the area is flooded with blue-green waters that are dotted with towering islands. This place is a tropical paradise full of untouched beauty that you will never forget.
This trip will take some planning and it is important that you pick the right time of the year to go. You don’t want to head over there during the summer months from June to August since it will be full of camera-wielding tourists. You also want to avoid June through July because this is the middle of the stormy season in Northern Vietnam. September through to may are the best months for kayaking here.
If you’re looking for a tropical paradise to explore from the water, Cát Bá in Hai Phong deserves a spot on your bucket list.
The Amazon River (South America)
If the Amazon River isn’t already on your kayaking bucket list, it should be. Kayaking through the tropical rainforests of the Amazon is a dream for many of us, and for good reason too. With expedition length and adventure size purely down to your ambition and the size of your wallet, the 6,400 kilometre river will not disappoint.
If you’re looking for wilderness at its finest in the depths of a tropical rainforest, then of course, there is no beating the Amazon. There’s plenty of companies that offer guided tours down the Amazon with day trips, multi-day adventures, and high-cost month-long expeditions possible. If you love fishing from a kayak, then this river will not disappoint. The Amazon is one of the most diverse rivers on the planet and holds some incredible fish species from the tiny piranha to the gigantic arapaima!
Glacier Bay (Alaska)
If a humid tropical climate isn’t to your taste but you still want to jump on a plane for the kayak trip of a lifetime, then Glacier Bay in Alaska is the place for you. There are miles upon miles of water to explore at Glacier Bay in some of the worlds most untouched wilderness. Stunning arctic landscapes surround you with towering mountains and glacial ice.
Guided tours and rentals are available in the park from Glacier Bay Sea kayaks. Tours from 5 to 10 days are most popular here with wild camping, fishing, and foraging along the way. You will need to be extremely experienced in these types of wilderness to head out on your own in a small group. If you are less experienced on the water, a guided tour can be arranged where a local will help you understand where is safe to paddle, camp, and how to minimise contact with the local bear population.
Alaska is stunning with some of the worlds last remaining unexplored territories. If you are looking for complete isolation and exploration in an arctic environment, Glacier Bay is the perfect place to add to your bucket list.