Kayaking is a unique way to experience the wonders of the world. Going paddling on the water opens up a new way to see cities and nature. If there is an option to kayak, you should go for it. Not only is it a fun activity, but it also offers a lot of health benefits!
Here are twenty kayaking destinations to add to your bucket list.
- 1. Glacier Bay, Alaska
- 2. Amazon River, South America
- 3. Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
- 4. Patagonia, Chile
- 5. Na Pali Coast, Hawaii
- 6. Fiordland, New Zealand
- 7. The Norwegian Fjords, Norway
- 8. Sea of Cortez, Mexico
- 9. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
- 10. Lake Malawi, Malawi
- 11. Halong Bay, Vietnam
- 12. Ningaloo Reef, Australia
- 13. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
- 14. The Soča River, Slovenia
- 15. Vancouver Island, Canada
- 16. Crystal River, Florida
- 17. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
- 18. Okavango Delta, Botswana
- 19. Vava’u, Tonga
- 20. San Juan Islands, Washington
1. Glacier Bay, Alaska
Glacier Bay is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southeast Alaska. The park has lush, temperate forests, towering glaciers, and jaw-dropping glacial fjords that can impress even the most traveled visitors. One thing to notice about Glacier Bay is its deep wilderness and solitude; Glacier Bay has no plans to be developed. This makes traveling through glaciers mostly by water.
Before you launch, you will need to register for a permit and attend an orientation to assist your trip. Trips can start at Bartlett Cove, or you can avail the drop-off service to start at bay.
2. Amazon River, South America
The Amazon River spans multiple countries. Starting from Peru, the river flows through Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia, before reaching the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. Seeing the lush rainforest and vibrant fauna unique to the Amazon is a wild experience only enhanced by a close-up view from a kayak.
Traveling the whole river is a lifetime expedition, but many tours take you through beautiful portions of the Amazon. Tours of the Amazon River in Ecuador and Brazil are the most popular due to their accessibility and lush wildlife. Tours can go up to 10 days.
3. Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
The Dalmatian Coast in Croatia is a dream coastline for sea kayakers. Sparkling clear, warm, turquoise waters invite you to explore the islands and islets that scatter the coastline. Sights of monasteries, fortresses, and ruins from the Roman Empire can make you feel like you have gone back in time!
The Mediterranean culture and locals you will meet along the way solidify the Dalmatian Coast experience as something that you should not forget. Many tours offer itineraries to experience the jam-packed Dalmatian Coast. Some tours go up to 10 days.
4. Patagonia, Chile
Patagonia is a region in Argentina and Chile that is part of the southern section of the Andean Mountains. Fjords, steppes, temperate forests, and glaciers await those who visit the cold region. Kayaking in Torres del Paine or the Andean Fjords is a unique experience that brings you closer to the beautiful glaciers and wildlife.
Tours in Torres del Paine can range from a few hours to six days, with Glacier Grey as a common destination. Experienced kayakers can go further south to kayak the Beagle Channel where you can find penguins and sea lions!
5. Na Pali Coast, Hawaii
Na Pali Coast is located on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Massive cliffs tower over the clear sea waters, providing an intense view of the wonders of nature as you take on the coast. Most guided tours take about a day which is enough time for a complete experience.
Paddling the Na Pali Coast is a challenge and should only be done by those who are physically fit. Most trips go from Haena to Polihale Beach to stay with the current. Cliffs, waterfalls, caves, and lush flora await those who tackle the coast!
6. Fiordland, New Zealand
Fiordland is a part of New Zealand on the South Island. The land has been carved by glaciers, forming steep, towering mountains with valleys flooded by ocean water. As its name suggests, Fiordland is home to hundreds of fjords or sounds, which are small, long, narrow bodies of water that reach inland.
Calm waters make it easy to focus on the remote beauty of the forests and wilderness around you. Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound are the two most popular fjords to visit.
7. The Norwegian Fjords, Norway
The Fjords in Norway are incredible sights to see. Deep blue waters and looming mountains make a trip to Norway a unique and magical experience. Norway has over 1,100 fjords, with many accessible by car or boat. Geirangerfjord is the most well-known and most visited fjord in Norway.
The Åknesfjället mountain may fall into the fjord in the future, creating waves that could level the town of Geiranger at the coast. Be sure to visit it when you can! Each fjord has its unique touch.
8. Sea of Cortez, Mexico
The Sea of Cortez is home to islands off the coast of Baja California and a step away from Tijuana. Warm waters and sunny skies make kayaking a pleasurable experience. If there is one reason to visit this place, it would be the wildlife. Whale watching and snorkeling are a must-add to your itinerary!
Sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and dolphins are easy to see on your paddling adventure. If you want to see blue whales, it is best to go during winter. It can get too hot to run tours during summer. Multi-day tours can run from three days to up to ten days.
9. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands are a series of islands off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are home to many unique animals due to their isolation. If you plan on visiting the Galápagos Islands, a paddling trip will give you the most out of your adventure.
Having a small kayak will allow a less intrusive experience as you can go to more places than motorboats can reach. Add snorkeling to your trip to see turtles, Galapagos sharks, and many more enchanting marine creatures!
There are also flightless cormorants and penguins to see in the warm, turquoise waters.
10. Lake Malawi, Malawi
Lake Malawi is an African Great Lake shared between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is the fifth-largest lake by volume and has the highest number of fish species for a lake on earth!
The lake also has islands to explore. Mumbo and Domwe are two of the most popular islands to visit, camp in, and kayak. There are island hopping tours if you want a guided experience.
Kayak Africa offers a multi-day sea kayaking tour that covers 60 km of the lake in four days for those who want a challenge! You can also try snorkeling and scuba diving there to see the hundreds of cichlid species.
11. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. The enchanting water with limestone mountains in the distance is a one-of-a-kind sight to see. Having a kayak only makes this experience better! You can explore small caves and hidden lagoons as you get a more personal experience with Halong Bay on a kayak.
Cong Do Island and its coral reefs are a great place to visit. There are also fishing villages to drop by during your kayaking tour; they are perfect places to rest and take in the local culture.
12. Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Ningaloo Marine Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located off the western coast of Australia. Snorkeling and kayaking go hand in hand, and Ningaloo Reef is one of the best places to do both. If you want to see whale sharks, Ningaloo is also one of the best places to see them. You can also snorkel with manta rays, swim with humpback whales, and experience marine fly fishing here.
Kayaking in the reef is very supported. Some boat tours have kayaks on board to use. Each sanctuary zone in the park also has dedicated kayak sites.
13. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the east of LeChee, Arizona. It is the main attraction of the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, with its alien orange walls and streams of light. The most common way of experiencing the canyon is through a walking tour. You can rent a kayak and paddle from Lake Powell to Antelope Canyon if you want a different, less crowded experience!
You may paddle alone or join a kayak tour. The views from a kayak may not be as good as the walking tour, but you will get a unique and memorable experience!
14. The Soča River, Slovenia
The Soča River is a 138-kilometer Alpine river in Western Slovenia. Clear, emerald waters and lush mountains await those who kayak here. The river is also home to the renowned Soča trout. It is also a great place for whitewater rafting, with difficulty levels ranging from class I to V.
- The Čezsoča – Srpenica section is for beginners, as it has no dangerous rocks or siphons.
- Srpenica 1 – Trnovo 1 is the most popular section, as the difficulty slowly increases up to class III.
- Lastly, Otona – Kobarid is for advanced kayakers who want a challenge at class IV and above!
This beautiful river can be on the bucket list of kayakers of any skill level!
15. Vancouver Island, Canada
Vancouver Island in Western Canada is one of the best-known sea kayaking destinations in the world! The whole place offers a kind of serenity in its remoteness. If you want to see orcas, humpback whales, otters, and porpoises, definitely put this on your bucket list.
Some tours also offer sea kayak fishing! There is nothing like the taste of fresh chinook and coho salmon.
The town of Tofino is one of the best places to start for Vancouver Island kayaking and a good basecamp for your trips.
16. Crystal River, Florida
Crystal River is a coastal city in Florida. This is the best place to go kayaking in the state! The city is well-known for its manatees at the Crystal River Preserve State Park. Kayak tours take you through the calm waters of the park to get you up close to the wildlife.
You can try a clear kayak tour at the Three Sisters Spring to get an even better look at the fish and manatee below your kayak. Alternatively, you can also go kayaking through the Chassahowitzka River to see otters and wild hogs.
17. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Phang Nga Bay is a bay in the Strait of Malacca in southern Thailand. Limestone islets jutting from the water create an otherworldly experience as you explore caves and enclosed lagoons. These lagoons, known as hongs, are only accessible when the tide lowers to allow entry.
Each hong can have a different surprise inside, from mangrove trees to stalactites. The most popular enclosed lagoons can get quite congested so try to find tours that avoid heavy traffic.
18. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is an inland delta in Botswana. It is also known as the 1000th site added to the UNESCO World Heritage List! Kayakers fond of wildlife should put the Okavango Delta as a top priority. The Okavango Delta has elephants, hippos, Nile crocodiles, rhinoceros, and zebras. Big cats such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards reside also in the Delta.
Kayaking through the Okavango Delta is a great way to experience the swampy wilderness, with trips going up to 10 days!
19. Vava’u, Tonga
Vava’u is an island group in Tonga with one large island and many smaller ones. The 50 or so islands are protected by a reef, making the warm waters perfect for island hopping and paddling. While going from one island to the next, you might see turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales!
There are many uninhabited islands to explore and white sand beaches to relax in. The friendly Vava’u culture is another thing you should not miss. Trips in Vava’u can go up to about eight days.
20. San Juan Islands, Washington
The San Juan Islands is an archipelago between Washington and Vancouver Island, Canada. These islands are well-known as one of the best kayaking spots. Paddlers who wish to see orca whales will not find a better place in North America.
The archipelago is a good mix of civilization and wilderness. Larger islands such as Friday Harbor are known for their restaurants and shops. Tours in San Juan are very versatile, with some ranging from a few hours to three days!
Travels anywhere around the world can be enhanced with a kayaking trip. Many beautiful places need a kayak to feel their spirit. Check out these places in this kayaking near me guide to finding out which of these kayaking spots are closest to you and must top your list.
Every kayak experience is a unique treasure, and you might even find a hidden gem that changes your life!