Next time you are on holiday at a beach resort think twice before heading to the gym. If you are lucky there may be some kayaking opportunities nearby, and kayaking is an excellent way to burn some of the inevitable holiday calories and work your muscles.
Kayaking is not an extreme sport, it is relatively safe and fun for everyone. If you can swim, you can kayak safely. Kayaking is actually more like a bicycle ride than whitewater rafting, so do not be put off by images of people kayaking through rapids whilst wearing safety helmets and goggles – this is not an accurate picture of kayaking.
Explore the Coast
Sea kayaking is a fantastic way to explore an area. You can often gain access to secluded bays and small islands which are out of bounds to other tourists. A once popular location for sea kayaking is the Galapagos Islands where there are winding coastlines with gentle waters leading to quiet bays full of amazing wildlife. Unfortunately there is currently a ban on kayaking in the Galapagos Islands, but if the ban is lifted then this is certainly a destination you should add to your bucket list.
Many European destinations provide some excellent kayaking opportunities. One option is to explore the many Greek islands by “hopping” from one island to the next each day. A major advantage that the Greek islands have is that they allow for a very civilised journey as all islands have hotels and bars where you can rest for the night, and get a much needed hot bath or shower.
In northern Europe Norway’s fjords provide a stunning backdrop to a kayaking trip. The Lofoten Islands, a mountainous archipelago with calm blue seas, is one of the best kayaking experiences you can have in Europe. As with Greece, civilization is always close by so you do not have to pack a tent, instead you can always find a welcoming hotel.
Kayaking is Safe and Sociable
By its nature kayaking is a very social experience. Many novice kayakers are taken out in small groups or with an instructor
which makes the experience is safe and enjoyable. Really you should never go kayaking alone, only very experienced kayakers who are also strong swimmers venture out by themselves, and there is still a risk whenever they do.
If you go on an organised kayaking trip you will most likely go as a group and this will provide an experience of a real adventure. Nothing really beats the feeling of exploring new areas while making new friendships all under your own steam. It is a perfect example of wellness travel.
Kayaking is actually safer than some other water sports. Some kayaks, such as “sit on tops”, are ideal for beginners as they reduce the risk of the kayak flipping in the water.
Fitness and Kayaking
Kayaking provides a great upper body and core workout. The muscles in the core help you to paddle more efficiently. Rather than just use your arms, which are relatively small muscles, you gain most leverage when paddling in the water by twisting your upper body from the waist, and also by shifting the position of your legs within the kayak. This is called torso rotation, and it allows you to generate a stronger paddle motion and reduce the stress on your shoulders which reduces risk of injury while paddling.
Kayaking really works the arms, shoulders and the core muscles, including the abdominals and back. These also happen to be the muscles which most people wish to tone up, and this is why kayaking is a great option when taking a wellness vacation – you can workout while having a great time messing about in the river or the sea.
As sea kayaking is becoming a more popular leisure activity many beaches now have somewhere you can hire a kayak along with all the safety equipment that you need. Next time you are on a beach vacation, why not venture out on a kayak and explore the area?
Dan is a keen Sit On Top Kayaker throughout the summer months and part of the team behind sitons.com. Check out their extensive UK kayaking map and get out on the water next time you visit the British Isles!
Are you a fan of kayaking? Share your experiences in the comments below.