My earliest memories of family vacations are kayaking through the glittering blue waters of the coast of Sicily with my father. Occasionally jumping off to snorkel or peer at the myriad of colorful fish below us, we would spend hours wandering around the cliffs and coves by kayak.
More recently, I found myself in the choppy waters off the southern coast of South Africa, kayaking with none other than bull sharks. The water was murky and brown from the natural tannins of the surrounding plants, nothing like the shimmering turquoise of the Mediterranean. Although we couldn’t see moving shapes under the opaque surface, our tour group was told that the sharks would be deeper, where salt water became more concentrated. We were also told to be careful we didn’t accidentally fall in, for obvious reasons. I took a deep breath and paddled ahead.
Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore a new place and creates some of the best memories. By paddling along next to a place looking at it, as opposed to being directly immersed in it, you get a completely different perspective. I spent many summers growing up at Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire, spending my days on a kayak, paddling to the town on the opposite shore for ice cream or napping in the middle of the lake while my cousins fished beside me. My parents, aunts, and uncles, who read peacefully on the dock or occasionally jumped in the lake for a quick swim, had far fewer adventures than us.
Everything is so much more accessible on a kayak. If you want to get away for a few minutes or even a few hours, you can simply hop on, push off from the shore and you’re on your way. There’s no complicated preparation like rigging with a sailboat or safety concerns like the propeller of a motorboat. It also gives a great workout, if you’re looking to enjoy yourself and get some light exercise. The beauty of kayaking is that you can make it how hard you want. Depending on how hard you push yourself, you either step out onto land with aching arms and abs or not even feel winded.
Costa Brava has some of the best kayaking in the world. Exploring the nooks and crannies of the rugged Catalan coast is an adventure in and of itself, without even taking into account the beautiful Mediterranean water or the world-famous beaches. Also known worldwide for amazing paddling is the Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second longest on the planet, Sermilik Fjord in Greenland, and Halong Bay, Vietnam. However, you don’t need to kayak somewhere well-known to have a good time. Although exploring a new area by way of kayak is one of the great joys of traveling, you can also make lasting memories on a kayak at home. Just find any old river or pond, paddle around for a bit, and reap the benefits of exercise and nature. Kayaking is a great equalizer. Young or old, rich or poor, fit or not, this sport is accessible to everyone.