Suggestions for coastal kayaking southern Spain

A dear younger friend who lives in Madrid just invited me to his wedding this May in Seville, in southern Spain. I’ve been thinking that I could plan a one to two week trip there bracketing the wedding and bring along one of my folding kayaks. It looks like there are a lot of lovely coastal areas around the southern coast of Spain on either side of Gibraltar.

Anybody here have experience traveling and paddling in that area, which I have never visited? I have a good friend who lived for a while in Spain and Portugal who is advising me on travel there from the US and on the protocols of land travel, but I know nobody at this point who has kayaked there. Any tips are welcome!

Also anybody who might be interested in joining me on all or part of such a trip. I’m a good traveler, well-organized but flexible. As I actually get this planned (have to get my passport renewed first) I may post in the “looking for trip partners” board.

The only caveat would be using an inflatable, what model it is and its sea worthiness. The Mediterranean is not as bad as say North Atlantic but it’s a wild, open sea so a Kayak that is designed for inland paddling may experience trouble if you’re on the Med side. All bets are off on the Atlantic side for sure.

I don’t know what your kayak model is but I would be very wary in using a model that is designed for lakes, rivers and streams in wild sea or ocean like that. Stay close to shore and have a low threshold for staying on land if conditions are not smooth. Realize that even on the calmest day the water can change in a matter of sheer minutes and stay close enough ashore to be able to get to safety.

Maybe it’s worth renting a sea Kayak for your trip?

Thanks – I truly appreciate your concern and I am apt to post cautionary responses myself to posts like I made.

But in this case I’m not using an inflatable (for the reasons you note.) I have several folding kayaks including a 37 pound Feathercraft Wisper (which is a high end 16’ sea kayak that I have used in a range of conditions including both Atlantic and Pacific coastal waters and fiords) and a 28 pound 13’ 6" Pakboat Quest 135 which, though smaller, is also a fully capable open water boat. I’ve had open water kayak training, a decent amount of experience and developed enough judgement over more than 40 years of wilderness adventuring (and 20 plus years of paddling) to not get in over my head.

Pic below is my red Wisper, by the way. The guy I bought it from 10 years ago spent a full month kayak camping along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts in it. Though Feathercraft is no longer in business there are still several companies like Trak and Long Haul who make competent folding sea kayaks. I find bringing my own boat along is a much better option for travel than destination renting. Besides the cost, rental takes a lot of time to arrange and limits you to a range of paddling time and distance as well as sticking you in most cases with a boat that is not only unfamiliar but does not fit you all that well.

It sounds like you’ve done your homework.

From the weights of your boats it sounds like they might be lighter composites (read FRAGILE AND EASY TO DAMAGE!). How much do you trust the airlines and all the gorillas working in baggage with your boat?

Check out this video about a very nice and expensive composite damaged in transit/shipping:

What is your ability to repair your boat when over there, can you plan B it in some way? Another consideration is where will you be staying as well. Europe is cramped compared to USA and the South is more cramped than the North in general. You will need a certain size accomodation if you’re planning on staying in a hotel to store your boat. Many hostels and even “above average” (not the cheap ones) hotels won’t have enough room for you to store your boat. Stairways are very narrow and tiny and cramped in the old buildings you are likely to be sleeping in. I don’t see you being able to fit even a foldable kayak in an elevator and many stairways. Doorways are also likely to be smaller than you’re used to in all but the most modern hotels. Leaving a kayak unattended in a hotel is iffy, private property respect in Europe << USA and it’s worse in the South (like Spain or Italy) which are also full of Gypsies, illegal aliens etc. Also unemployment is very high, as is the petty crime/petty theft rate, watch your property!

Food in Andalusia (South Spain) is very good, not as good as Italy if you can compare. Spain has similar gastronomy and selection of menu items but the better known Italians do it better, more vibrant, more flair, more fresh, more quality, more flavor more interesting. Still the Tappas are quite good and probably the best way to try a lot of different things cheaply. Ask for “PINCHOS” (many little snacks, as in lots of different “tastes”). Again Spain is beautiful but there’s a dullness, a seriousness and a sadness and a spotlessness/cleanliness in Spain that you don’t see in Italy, kind of like the “GERMANS OF THE SOUTH”. It’s mild but worth noting. Spain looks more “poor” but it is cleaner, in many cases more uniform vs Italy which is wealthier, more lively, more shiny but at the same time dirtier, more chaotic and more dilapidated. Spain has some of the best roads in all of Europe. Cost of things in Spain is lower than most USA, it’s cheap over there, average wage is $12,000 Euro. Don’t forget to check out Granada and the Alhambra, it’s a must see. Probably the biggest must see in all of Spain and one of the top “must see” sites in Europe. Going out of your way to see it and spending the whole day is 1,000% worth it.

Beware the currents in the strait of Gibraltar, almost all the time go towards the med due to salinity differences Atlantic/Med so starting Atlantic in the East and going East towards the Med is the easiest, and probably only way to navigate. Also the channel is alive with shipping so keep a watchful eye on ships staying close to shore.

Appreciate the info on Spain.

Still puzzled by your reaction to my kayaks. I gather you are unfamiliar with folding kayaks. They are NOT “composites” but made of fabric and rubber skins with collapsible aluminum frames, much like a backpacking tent but more durable… They rarely need repairs and even if they do it is easily done with patch and adhesive kits in the field.

This is how I travel with a folding kayak. First pic is the kayak and all my paddling gear in one “free baggage” sized rolling duffel where it is protected by the frame and padding. This bag survived 6 airline flights and baggage handlers with no damage to anything I had along. The second pic shows everything that was packed in it and the third shows the boat assembled at my destination. This is my smaller kayak (12’) but the larger ones (13.5’ and 15’) still fit in the same bag but I have to have another one for some of the gear. I can stash it in the trunk of a rental car, tow it onto a bus or train and park it in the corner of the smallest hotel room. I can set it up in about 20 minutes, take it apart and pack it in 10 minutes and carry it on a rental car (I carry an inflatable roof rack.)


There’s a used Klepper Aerius for sale on CL, in case you want to add to your fleet:

Argh, don’t tempt me! That’s a good price for an Aerius in good shape but I’m trying to reduce the fleet, not add to it. I’ll tip off my fellow folder freaks over at, though. Somebody should snag this who can appreciate it.