The Best Kayaking Destinations in the World
Kayaking is the perfect middle ground between an adventure, an adrenaline-filled sport, and a relaxing and relatively easy-to-manage outdoor activity. For beginners, it’s easy to learn, immensely fun, and a great way to explore new areas, whether close to home or halfway across the world.
If you are an avid kayaker, or if you would simply like to try it out on your next trip, here is a list of the best kayaking spots in the world to help you get inspired and kickstart your next adventure.
To start, these are our top picks for the best places to kayak for beginners and towards the end of our list is some destinations more off the beaten track for experiences pros.
1. Crete, Greece
While you may not associate Greece with kayaking, the coast off the island of Crete offers some amazing blue water for paddling, while the island itself provides the perfect backdrop to your adventure.
Crete is one of the most amazing islands in Greece and there are plenty of coves and caves dotted around the island, as well as unusual pink beaches that will inspire you to dock and enjoy some of the tiny quaint villages that are spread around the island. A great relaxing and rejuvenating route.
2. Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
The Dalmatian coast is another incredible destination with its sandy beaches, bluffs and headlands, and all of the amazing towns rushing down towards the sea. There are also countless islands scattered around this area of the Adriatic, where you can spend a glorious afternoon exploring. There are also plenty of reefs and grottoes, and the waters and some of the clearest and bluest in the world. The local food is also amazing, so make sure you take some time to sample local dishes before you hop back into your kayak.
3. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada, USA
Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States located in Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of California and Nevada.
Lake Tahoe is an amazing outdoor destination in both summer and winter, there are beaches and ski resorts here. Thousands of people visit Lake Tahoe every year and it is easy to see why.
The lake has crystal-clear water and is the perfect kayaking destination for both beginners and advanced levels. The waters, scenery and great value for money on renting kayaks makes this destination more appealing. Lots of USA tours also include Tahoe in the itinerary.
4. Colorado River, Arizona, USA
The majestic 1,450-mile-long Colorado River passes through seven U.S. states and two Mexican states. This is one of the most famous rivers in the world and also one of the more spectacular. You can also combine experiences and see lots of amazing places like the Grand Canyon. Kayaking here has to be on the best locations in the world. If you visit you will get to see why this is such a popular location for kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding.
- United States
- 2 weeks - 3 weeks / From: £ 1500
- New Zealand
- 3 weeks - 3 weeks / From: £ 1500
- 1 week - 1 week / From: £ 2000
Always wanted to visit Hawaii? Book a trip and combine it with kayaking. This one of the most bucket list destinations for kayakers due to the incredible waters and scenery. There are kayaking trips here for all levels and abilities, from just paddling close to the ocean or booking a more adventurous expedition.
Our top rated destination on this island for more advanced levels is to kayak along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast where you can see the stunning coastline including cliffs, waterfalls and lots of marine life.
6. Alps, France
The French Alps may sound like a destination for hikers, but they are also a great choice if you are looking to kayak. If you are a beginner, you can choose the Ardèche as your starting point, whereas if you are looking for more of an effort, the Sunshine Run might be the right choice. You can also continue on to the Swiss, Italian, or Austrian Alps if you are looking for even more of a challenge.
The most stunning aspect of the French Alps are, of course, the mountains themselves, but the clear waters and the great places to stay along the route are also something to add to your trip. If you are looking to do some of these routes in tandem, make sure you check out some reviews and find the best tandem kayak for the destination itself.
Some of the clearest kayaking waters in the world can be found in Slovenia, along the Soča River. There are several sections to it, where each will vary in the level of difficulty, so you can choose to take on the ones that best fit your fitness levels. Clubs often choose this river as a destination for group practice, so you are likely to come across lively groups of kayakers on your trip.
The nature in Slovenia is simply incredible: the colors will take your breath away, and the famed hospitality of the people there will make you feel right at home. So whether you are planning a short break to Slovenia, or have a longer trip planned, be sure to go kayaking.
8. Everglades, Florida, USA
Florida is one of the most popular states in the USA for tourism with millions of people visiting every year and somewhere you need to add to your itinerary is the Everglades National Park. The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and teeming with wildlife including alligators.
There are lots of safe tours available here and the area is unlike all the other destinations on our list. If you aren't frightening by the idea of kayaking close to gators, then the Everglades is a must.
- United Kingdom
- 1 week - 1 week / From: £ 750
- United States
- 1 week - 2 weeks / From: £ 1250
- 1 week - 2 weeks / From: £ 1000
9. Amazon Rainforest, South America
Kayaking down the Amazon sounds like the ultimate Bear Grylls adventure, doesn’t it?
The second largest river in the world certainly is full of all kinds of dangers, from crocodiles and venomous snakes to piranhas and other intimidating representatives of the Amazonian wildlife. However, this is still one of the most amazing kayaking destinations. There’s the jungle, there are the sounds of the rainforest, there are the people who make their living on the river.
You don’t have to take this feat on alone, and you should also certainly only go with a guide and as a part of an organized group. It’s definitely more adventure than holiday, but if that’s what you are looking to get from your kayak, look no further than the Amazon.
Kayaking in the Arctic might sound just a tad crazy, but in the height of summer, paddling in Greenland can be the rugged adventure you have been looking for. The Sermilk Fjord is a great choice, where you can watch the icebergs, use all of your resilience to paddle through the maze of ice, and watch seals and whales as they enjoy the weather. True, it’s definitely not a route for the faint of heart, or for the less experienced, but if you have some mileage under your belt, the fjords of Greenland are certainly a glorious destination to take your kayak to.
Alaska is probably unlike anywhere you have been in your life, away from the hustle and bustle of city/working life. If you are keen to go to Alaska then you really need to go kayaking in the incredible Glacier Bay National Park.
This Park is an international protected area covering 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rainforest and fjords. Kayaking here will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
There are some things to consider before departing including remembering to always check the weather forecast before taking your kayak out to the water, and to familiarize yourself with the conditions of the route you’re about to take on. Don’t try to venture into waters that exceed your experience level – although kayaking is essentially a safe sport, accidents do happen, especially if you don’t prepare well.
Hopefully our list of top rated destinations has given you some inspiration for where to go on your next kayaking adventure. Once you are out in the great outdoors, enjoying the sights and sounds, there truly is nothing like viewing the world from the water.