How to try Kayaking?

My wife and I are both interested in trying out Kayaks. We’re both comfortable in a canoe (nothing extreme, but we’ve paddled a decent amount).

We think we may both enjoy this as a hobby, but we’re not positive. What I’d like to do is find a good place to try out Kayaking. We’re more interested in lakes / ocean kayaking than whitewater. We’re also not in great shape (though hopefully this will change this summer), so we wouldn’t want to do anything extremely challenging.

Any suggestions of a starting location? I’m thinking somewhere warm (I’d like to start this spring if possible). Probably calm (no oceans or rivers to start?), some good nature or people to watch. Something not too crowded. Any suggestions? Flying somewhere in the US wouldn’t be a problem, and we’re currently in Illinois (Western Suburbs).

Florida or San Diego
come to mind.

Rent, consider a guided trip.

Florida sounds good

– Last Updated: Feb-16-06 5:40 AM EST –

San Diego is going to be on either Mission bay or San Diego Bay. Nice spots but can have boat traffic and not a real "Natural Location" If you get brave you could paddle off of Lajolla Cove in a Sit-on-top, one of the prettiest spots in an urban area in the US.

Go to web page and look at their classes. They have good multiday introduction to seakayaking classes which would be what you would be looking for.

Try renting from the attached
to see if you like it:

Or, take a lesson with Cynthia (tell her Bruce says hi):

Or, try this group:

Good luck.

Some ideas
22-26 March - Paddlesports Expo (PE) - in New Jersey - sponsored by The Jersey Paddler - 888-22KAYAK -

This is indoors, but there are many kayaks and kayak-related things to see. They are very experienced paddlers, and they can arrange for you to try out some kayaks. In addition, telephone and ask them about their South Jersey Canoe & Kayak Classic, where you can try out and compare many kayaks (on a lake).

21-23 April - East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival (ECCKF) - in Charleston, SC -

This is both indoors and outdoors. There are many kayaks to try out and compare, and there are many classes for beginners and advanced paddlers. This fills up quickly, so, if you want to attend, you should sign up soon. There is a campqround in the park in which the festival is held; my wife and I rent a trailer locally and put it in the campground.

20 May - Canoe & Kayak Demo Day - in New Jersey - sponsored by EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports)

There are many kayaks to try out - without rental; I’m cheap.

H2Outfitters -

They teach and conduct trips. They teach in many locations, but I prefer their Maine location. They will be at both PE and ECCKF.

University of Sea Kayaking - - operated by Wayne Horodowich, an excellent teacher

Wayne teaches and conducts trips. He will be at both PE and ECCKF.

Guided trips will probably the best for “checking out” kayaking! Any guided trips available would be in areas worth paddling, which means something nice to see… that satisfy one of your requirements, rigth?

As for location, I’m partial to California (I used to live there, duh). San Diego is warm and beautiful. But then, so are San Francisco. March and April in San Francisco is plenty warm by IL standards! There’re actually more sheltered inland paddling option in the SF Bay area than in San Diego.

This is getting a bit late for most Baja trips. But if you can find one, almost all trips includes some basic lessons so you have a better grip of what kayaking is about. Warmth? Well, you’ll be in Mexico. And the wild life… well, you’ll just have to go there to see for yourself!

Savannah Georgia
Now here is a great place to do everything. Great town for dining, beautiful city walks, and outdoor options galore. I visited here with my wife for a conference. When we arrived and visited, I fell in love with the place. My one goal was to hire a guide to paddle in the salt marsh near Tybee Island which is about 20 minutes from Savannah. It was as wonderful an experience as I could have imagined. Not technical at all or could be if you wanted. I used a guide from Nice and very helpful. I also spoke to someone for a later trip for additional information that was truly beneficial in assisting me with camping info and details for the same area, I plan on using them more in the future. Super nice people.

My advice for Savannah would be to research it before you go, as I did, so you dont fall victim to the tourist traps. I have more details if interested.

I put kayaking into the same category as golf. It will be a lot more fun and much less frustrating, if you learn to do it correctly in the first place.

That doesn’t mean going to some livery and having a kid give you a 5 minute lesson on everything you need to know about safety and stroking. You’ll find yourself out there arm wrestling a boat; after 45 minutes of that you’ll wonder why this is “fun”.

Additionally, the kayaks that they dare let you rent without any proven skill level are so bargelike that they barely give you a sense of kayaking.

Why else take basic lesson? Learn to turn without tipping! Learn to paddle in a somewhat straight line. Stopping is also be a useful skill! Learn how to get out of the kayak without a friend or a hoist! What you learned in a canoe isn’t going to help you in a kayak!

After you learn that basic stuff, you can learn how to save yourself and your kayak when you are really having fun in a kayak and you get into trouble.

If you haven’t kayaked; if you’re not a natural athlete; if you don’t learn well from videotapes; and if you’re not strong enough to use muscle in lieu of skill … then a fun trip might be to go somewhere where they are offering a multi-day kayaking course. Check out the ACA web site.

Go on a guided, instructed trip

– Last Updated: Feb-16-06 5:32 PM EST –

I wouldn't recommend renting, since you won't know what you're doing, and they'll rent you a tub.

Go on a guided, instructed trip in a gorgeous location. I'd recommend finding an outfitter that uses singles, not tandems, because they have to do more instruction. In the Northwest, the San Juan Islands are great and there are many good outfitters.

In the midwest, close to you, the Apostle Islands are spectacular and two good outfitters take out guided, instructed trips.

If you want to go someplace warmer, the Chesapeake Bay has some good outfitters. Florida probably does too. Many outfitters run special trips aimed at people who want to get substantial instruction, and that's the best way to go if you think you might be interested in taking up kayaking as a sport.

Alternatively, try one of the kayaking symposiums which usually include a guided trip and 2 days of instructional workshops, seminars, and tons of fun. Most of the prime kayaking locations now have these symposiums. Some close ones to you for the summer would be up in Door County

Or, much prettier but farther away:
the Apostle Islands:

Your pnet name reminds me of a wonderful
tune by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cabron.

Check it out… and the next track, Tear, an homage to the Beach Boys, is superb. Thsi album is truly a masterpice, and I only say that occasionally (the hit single off this LP is the only part about it that sucks, actually). Rock on, CEREBRON.

I love
How you describe where your from, “Illinois (Western Suburbs)”. I lived in the Chicago area for a while. Everyone who lives in Chicago or Cook county forgets there is a whole state that surrounds them.

What the rest of the world does not know is that anything outside of Cook county (Chicago) is considered “Down State” and you take you life in your hand if you venture pass I 80 (natives may get you).

The Illinois Department of Tourism many years ago was running ads promoting the state to Chicagoans. The line was “Just outside Chicago, there’s a place call Illinois.”

I, myself, ran away of Chicago to Springfield . . . You know, the place where the governor is suppose to live.

Anyway welcome to the world of kayaking. I will second the recommendation of Tybee Island and Sea kayak Georgia. I bought two boats from them on my way down to Florida . . . It was a costly and unplanned shopping spree, but very glad I did it.

There are several canoe and kayak clubs in Chicago. The folks at the shops that Bruce mentioned can put you in touch with them.

Good luck, have fun, and be safe


Hey Dwaugh- I paddled south of I 80

– Last Updated: Feb-17-06 2:42 AM EST –

twice last fall and found the natives to be cannibals. I think I may have even seen some Easter Island-like statues near the Illinois River. I'm sure one would need some high powered weaponry and an experienced guide or sherpa to survive in the jungles of Champaign, Springfield and Carbondale.

Your were lucky those times.
Now we know your out there and were waiting.

Is this you?

I’m just out of the frame holding salt and pepper

Go to Canoecopia
Canoecopia is in Madison WI March 10-12. You will find a lot of outfitters there offering trips, lessons, symposiums, etc. Northwest PAssage, based out of Wilmette, I think, will be there and they do Chicago-area stuff. Skokie Lagoons and Lake Michigan. Door County Sea Kayak Symposium is in July. It is geared toward beginners and beyond.