Going abroad for a kayaking adventure is just a pipe dream for most people. After all, you’d think it’d be a whole lot of work to organise a kayak trip out on the water in another country, right? Actually, wrong! It’s super simple. And if the answer to that question had been ‘right’, we probably wouldn’t have written this article. There are definitely lots of kayaking holidays for beginner paddlers out there. You just have to find them.
Your first kayaking adventure truly is a bucket list moment. As friends back home scroll Insta posts and dream of adventure, you? Well… you’ll be too busy enjoying the freedom of the water and the silence of nature to even remember social media exists. It doesn’t get much more immersive than being out there on the water.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 awesome kayaking trips perfect for beginners...
1. Kayak the Famous Fjords of Norway
We all know the Norwegian fjords. We’ve all seen the photos of the Norwegian fjords. They’re ridiculous. They look like something that should’ve been written by JRR Tolkien. But they weren’t. There’s no orcs. No Uruk Hai. No moody hobbit having a go at their kind, loyal, patient hobbit friend for no real reason. The fjords are real, and just as stunning as you think.
This is top of our kayaking trips for beginners list: an epic weekend of paddling through the legendary Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and comes complete with a night camping and sparking up the BBQ by the side of the fjord. You barely need any kayaking experience, either. Does it get more bucket list than that? Take a look at our Norway fjords map for a bit of perspective, or read our guide to the Norway fjords here.
Don’t Miss: The Nærøyfjord is 17km long and the narrowest point is only 250m wide. To be perfectly honest, it’d be very hard for you to miss anything on this trip, though, given you’ll literally be in the middle of it all.
Fun Fact: The Nærøyfjord was used as inspiration for the city of Arendelle in Frozen. We imagine there will be one person on your trip that just won’t let this go.
2. Sea Kayaking in Stunning Sardinia
Paddle along sea cliffs under the Italian sun, passing remote, unoccupied Italian beaches, swimming in crystal-clear, beautiful blue Italian waters and spending your evenings eating mouth-watering Italian food and drinking Italian wine hard-earned through your paddling.
This is the perfect trip for anyone who loves to mix their adventure with a large pinch of relaxation and indulgent food and drink. Oh, and did we mention it’s in Italy?
Don’t Miss: Neptune’s Grotto! Not a sea-based replacement for Santa’s Grotto, but a stalactite cave near the town of Alghero on the island of Sardinia. It was discovered by local fisherman in the 18th century and is truly a place of natural beauty.
Fun Fact: Sardinia is one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world identified as having residents who often reach age 90 or older. Basically, people in Sardinia live longer than anywhere else in the world. And we’re sure it won’t be hard for you to see exactly why.
3. Island hopping in Remote Indonesia
A week of kayaking, hiking and snorkelling in where the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean meet is probably not something you’ve even considered before. Which is exactly why you should now. The kayaking trips you’ve never thought of before are always the best, right?
Paddling the crystal clear waters of the Indonesian archipelago, this is a trip with diversity hard to match. You'll be kayaking Flores island and the surrounding area, past white sand beaches, secret caves and pop by to visit some Komodo Dragons. And who says adventure stops at night. You'll be sleeping on a boat, in a nunnery, on a 'pondok' platform and within a traditional village inside an ancient volcanic caldera – to name a few!
Don’t Miss: Pante Hera, home to the only turtle conservation centre on Flores island and a 1.7km beach that doubles as a nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles.
Fun Fact: The Coral Triangle is a marine region, including areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. It has the richest marine concentration on Earth, home to migrating Manta Rays, dolphins, turtles and over 1000 identified coral and fish species.
4. Kayak and Wild Camp in Croatia
Immerse yourself in the spectacular beauty of the Zrmanja River on this epic long weekend in Croatia. Kayak turquoise waters through rugged canyons, stopping to play in waterfalls and pools on the way. At night you’ll camp next to the river and relax around a campfire. All that famous Croatian beauty, without those infamous Croatian tourist crowds, seen from the middle of the water. Oh yes. Oh yes indeed.
Don’t Miss: The waterfalls of the Zrmanja! They’re truly beautiful. It’d be hard for you to miss them all, though. You’ll be wild camping pretty near one during the trip.
Fun Fact: This trip takes place on the water of Dalmatia, which is also where the Dalmatian dog was… well, not invented, but certainly named, at least. Woof!
5. Canoe Coast to Coast Across Scotland
If you want to stay closer to home but not sacrifice any of the scenery, this is the trip for you. Paddling 100km of the Caledonian Canal is no simple task, and while you don’t particularly need any previous experience, you will need to be fit for this five-day canoeing adventure. Okay so canoeing isn't quite kayaking - but it's essentially like kayaking Scotland for beginners.
Your reward will be the sweeping hills of the Highlands that have made oh-so-many Lonely Planet staff writers froth over the years, and you’ll paddle through the likes of Loch Ness and Loch Lochy as well – the former of course known for its monster, and the latter for sounding like it was named by a three-year-old child. Both are equally beautiful.
Don’t Miss: After a full day on Loch Ness, look out for Urquhart Castle, a stunning 13th-century structure built on the site of an early medieval fortification which was once one of Scotland’s largest castles.
Fun Fact: The most famous photograph of Nessie, “the Surgeon’s photograph”, was outed as a hoax in 1975, after it was revealed that it was in fact taken with a toy submarine from Woolworths and a fake head and neck. This submarine sunk after the photograph, and so remains in the loch to this day, where Nessie presumably shouts at it for being an imposter.
6. Culinary Kayaking in Sweden
What do you think of when you think of Sweden? Beautiful people, meatballs and Ikea? Well, while all of those things are great, what’s even greater are the archipelagos of the country.
Paddle the Saint Anna Archipelago and you’ll be greeted with a kayaking journey that’ll see your efforts rewarded through local fish, lamb from one island, local boar from another and beautiful fruit and vegetables. A fantastic amalgamation of kayaking and culinary delights.
Don’t Miss: The tips and cooking hints from your group chef. The wild cooking techniques and foraging tips you can pick up from the experts are unforgettable.
Fun Fact: The Saint Anna Archipelago is a maze of 6000 islands, islets and reefs, which, we think you’ll agree, is a lot of islands. Now imagine kayaking through them all. Phwoar.
7. Kayak on the Greek Coast (Pelion Peninsula)
Famous Greek philosopher Plato once said,"the unexamined life is not worth living to a human.”
We like to think that he said this while paddling a kayak the Pelion Peninsula of Greece, along beautiful coastline, past medieval castles (even though Plato lived about a thousand years before the medieval age…), while wearing a backwards cap and throwing up a peace sign to his fellow Greek philosophers. Maybe he even threw in a dab for good measure.
If that did happen – and let’s be honest, none of you can prove it didn’t – you can follow in his paddle strokes on this trip, starting at Tsagarada, one of the nicest villages in Greece.
Don’t Miss: Cookie Island (aka Prasouda) is a tiny island that you'll reach by kayak and can explore on foot. Hike over to an abandoned monastery, dating back to the Byzantine era.
Fun Fact: You'll be starting some of your kayaking days from Damouchari's old harbour, made famous by the film Mamma Mia. But don't worry, no one will expect you to burst into song.
8. Kayak, Forage and Wild Camp the Pembrokeshire Coast
You’re looking for an adventure. But you have a full-time job. And your boss is a bit of a fruit loop. He says things like “reaching out” and “But Does It Scale?” at every meeting and never gives you time off work without about six months' notice.
Lucky you don’t need any time off work for a trip to the Pembrokeshire Coast. Head over on Saturday morning, wild camp overnight on a secluded beach after a day on the water, and enjoy guided sea kayaking with breakfast and dinner prepared in camp. Not bad, eh? Also, get a new job. We love you, and you should love you too.
Don’t Miss: Learning bushcraft skills, like catching your own fish dinner and cooking it over an open fire.
Fun Fact: The Pembrokeshire Coast is a National Park, the first coastal area in the UK to be recognised with National Park status.
9. Paddle Menorca’s Southern Coast Line
Menorca has done that full circle thing where you go from over-crowded tourist spot to a place actual adventurers don’t really want to go because there’s too many people. Then more secret spots are found by locals and more dedicated adventurers, and then it’s largely agreed that yes, it in fact its heaven, and it’s time to go back with a kayak, a paddle, and a local guide.
Here you’ll paddle along stunning turquoise coasts, but also discover white-rock caves and wild camp on secret beaches far away from the maddening crowd. This is a slightly longer kayaking trip at seven days though, so while kayaking experience isn’t essential, this is going to be a challenge you’ll need to be prepared for!
Don’t Miss: Son Saura, the biggest beach in the south west of Menorca and a great place for a swim.
Fun Fact: Menorca is where mayonnaise originated. There you go. There’s your Menorca fact. Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise sauce originated here. Didn’t expect that, did you? Mayo.
10. Kayak and Hike Japan
Four days of sea kayaking in Japan (and two days of hiking). Have you ever been to Japan? If you have, we’re sure you know exactly how good this sounds. If not, the trip of a lifetime awaits. Japan has an incredible outdoor side, which is often overlooked for its famous cities. Explore the forests, the oceans, the beaches, camping and beautiful sunsets.
Paddling around the coast of the Izu Peninsula, from Stumekizaki to the towering red cliffs of Hagachizaki Bay, you'll experience Japan like few people ever do.
Don’t Miss: As you kayak past Hagachizaki Bay, have a look at the residents. It's home to a troop of over 300 wild Japanese macaque monkeys!
Fun Fact: Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns where you sleep on futons on top of tatami mats on the floor, with rooms separated by sliding doors. Most ryokans provide robes and slippers which are often worn to dinner.