A kayak adventure combines elements of challenge with moments of serenity, as you glide through clear water, far from the crowded beaches. Perhaps it's something you've always wanted to do but stopped short of planning - it sounds like a whole lot of work to organise a kayak trip out on the water in another country, right? Actually, wrong! Your best bet, as a beginner, is to join a kayak expedition with a few other like-minded adventurers, where a local guide will lead you down rivers and around islands rarely visited by other tourists.

If you're up for a challenge, there are plenty of pretty epic kayaking holidays for beginner paddlers. You could sea kayak around the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia, stopping to swim on deserted beaches and indulging in exquisite local cuisine and wine in the evenings. Or how about taking to the water in Costa Rica, paddling through its biodiverse rainforest and keeping eyes peeled for howler monkeys? There are all sorts of options, in beautiful countries around the world.

Your first kayaking adventure truly is a bucket list moment. As friends back home scroll Insta posts and dream of adventure, 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, including everything from sea kayak adventures to kayaking weekend getaways...

1. Kayak the Famous Fjords of Norway

The front of a kayak gliding across the Norwegian fjords.
Kayaking amongst the beauty of the Norwegian fjords.

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 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 imagine they would be.

Hike, Kayak and Wild Camp the Norwegian Fjords | Much Better Adventures
Our top wish-listed weekend adventure. 4 days kayaking, hiking and wild camping in the Norwegian fjords. Book now for just 20% deposit.

This is top of our kayaking trips for beginners list: an epic weekend of paddling through the legendary Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It 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.

Kayak and Wild Camp Norwegian Fjords
Set off on an epic weekend of paddling and fjord-side camping

2. Sea Kayaking in Stunning Sardinia

The front of a kayak in Sardinia.
A boat with a view, taking a paddle in the blue waters around Sardinia.

Paddle along sea cliffs under the Sardinian 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.

Sea Kayak in Sardinia
Paddle to remote beaches, swim in crystal-clear coves and spend your evenings indulging in delicious Sardinian food

3. Kayak the Karavasta Lagoon in Albania

Kayakers paddling across the clear waters of Karavasta Lagoon, Albania
The clear waters of Karavasta Lagoon

Albania might not be well-known as a kayaking destination, but that's one of the reasons we love to visit. Untouched by mass tourism, its pristine rivers and lakes are ideal spots for the beginner kayaker. We particularly recommend the Karavasta Lagoon, the largest in Albania (and, indeed, the entire Mediterranean).

This vast saltwater lagoon is home to a vast number of birds, including the rare Dalmatian pelican. Keep your eyes peeled for them as you paddle across its calm turquoise waters. Feeling tired? Pull ashore for a break. Or hot? Then refresh yourself with a swim in the lagoon.

Don’t Miss: The small local restaurants on the lake shore that serve delicious fresh fish dishes!

Fun Fact: Five percent of the world’s Dalmatian Pelican population makes its home in Karavasta Lagoon. It's also home to over 250 other bird, mammal and amphibian species.

Raft, Kayak and Hike in Albania | Much Better Adventures
Book an active, small group adventure among the beautiful natural scenery of Albania with a local expert, paddling and hiking rivers and canyons.

4. Island-Hop in Thailand's Phang Nga Bay

Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay. Photo: Much Better Adventures.
Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay. Photo: Much Better Adventures.

Use your kayak to get off the beaten track in Thailand's popular Phang Nga Bay, where karst islands jut from clear turquoise water. A private longtail boat will be used as your floating base, and take you far from the crowds. You'll be able to circumnavigate the gnarled limestone islands, hopping ashore to discover hidden beaches.

Don't Miss: snorkelling in the sea - the water's delightful!

Fun Fact: Phang Nga Bay was the backdrop for Star Wars: Episode lll – Revenge of the Sith- it's the location for planet Kashyyyk.

Kayak and Hike Wild Thailand | Much Better Adventures
Take a trip to Thailand to explore lush jungle, tropical islands and palm-lined beaches. Floating bungalows and treehouses make unforgettable places to sleep.

5. Kayak and Wild Camp in Croatia

Kayakers in a clear turquoise river in Croatia's Dalmatia Region.
Kayaking in the mountainous rivers of Dalmatia

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!

Kayak and Wild Camp in Croatia
Explore the Croatian wilderness, kayak the majestic Zrmanja River and camp on its banks

6. Canoe Coast to Coast Across Scotland

Two people in a canoe on the scenic Caledonian Canal.
Canoeing across Scotland on the Caledonian Canal

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.

100km Canoe Expedition Across Scotland
Cross Scotland from Fort William in the west, to Inverness in the east along the Caledonian Canal

7. Kayak along the Cretan Coast

Kayaking in Falasarna. Photo: Fit in Crete
Kayaking in Falasarna. Photo: Fit in Crete

The calm, sparkling seas surrounding the rocky island of Crete are ideal for beginner kayakers. There are endless itineraries and launch sites; the island boasts hundreds of beaches. One of our favourites is the 14km paddle along the rugged south coast from Sougia to the village of Agia Roumeli, only accessible by water. As you paddle, you'll discover small coves and sea caves, with plenty of snorkel stops.

Sea kayaking in Crete can be combined with hiking, too. You can walk the Villager's Path, a coastal route along pretty Kissamos Bay, and then paddle back. And of course, each paddle concludes with a hearty taverna feast!

Don’t Miss: The hidden, heart-shaped bay near Elafonissi - you'll find an ancient temple there too!

Fun Fact: Crete is the largest island of Greece, and features prominently in many of its myths - one such myth says it's the birthplace of Zeus.

Kayak and Hike the Coast of Crete | Much Better Adventures
Locally guided kayaking and hiking holiday in Crete. A coastal adventure without the logistical headache, helping wild places and remote villages thrive.

8. Glide Across Cuba's Bay of Pigs

Kayaking in Salinas de Brito in Cuba. Photo: Daniel Wildey.
Kayaking in Salinas de Brito. Photo: Daniel Wildey.

Kayak the glassy waters of the Bay of Pigs, within the Zapata Peninsula Biosphere Reserve. We particularly like Salinas de Brito, on the Bay's southwestern tip – these vast tidal flats are teeming with birds, including flamingos. Paddle through mangrove forests and past sandy beaches, eyes peeled for schools of bonefish, tarpons, and barracuda in the clear water below.

Spot iguanas and crocodiles basking on the shoreline, and look out for wild pigs and jutías (Cuba's adorable furry residents) on the tiny islands that dot the landscape. Many of these islands are ringed with coral reefs, making them ideal snorkelling spots.

Don't Miss: Pulling ashore on one of many islands for a picnic lunch, castaway style.

Fun Fact: The Bay of Pigs was the site of a CIA-led invasion in 1961 to push leader Fidel Castro from power. But the invaders were outnumbered by Castro's troops and surrendered within 24 hours.

Hike and Kayak in Cuba | Much Better Adventures
Paddle and hike through Cuba’s lush landscapes, wild swim in natural pools, stay in casas particulares and explore Trinidad and Havana on a small group trip.

9. Take A Sea Kayak Trip in Costa Rica's Sweetest Spot

Kayakers in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Kayaking in the clear waters of Golfo Dulce.

Golfo Dulce, literally 'Sweet Gulf', lives up to its name - it's one of the best places to kayak in Costa Rica. It's a unique ecosystem, one of only four tropical fjords in the world. Clear turquoise water is surrounded by slopes carpeted in rainforest and fringed with mangroves, so there's plenty to explore.

You can launch at Golfito and spend a leisurely morning paddling along the coastline, looking at the mountains inland. In the afternoon we'd recommend taking a break to do a bit of snorkelling - the water's beautifully clear. One of the most beautiful parts of coastline in the area lies in the Piedras Blancas National Park, where rainforest slopes down to the ocean. There's a lot of marine life in the area, including dolphins and whales.

Don't Miss: The fact that you can also combine this kayaking trip with the chance to camp in a tree. That's right, a tree!

Fun Fact: It's called 'Golfo Dulce' because of the incredibly low levels of salt in the water. That's partly because of all the mangroves, which act as a filtration system.

Kayak, Hike and Tree Camp the Rainforests of Costa Rica | Much Better Adventures
Get off the beaten track on a small group adventure: trek through lush jungle teeming with exotic wildlife, kayak vivid coastline and fall asleep in the trees.

10. Kayak Italy's Cilento Coast

Sea kayaking along the Cilento Coast. Photo: Genius Loci
Sea kayaking along the Cilento Coast. Photo: Genius Loci

The Cilento National Park lies south of the famed Amalfi Coast - it's much quieter and equally picturesque, with a jagged coastline of deserted coves and rock formations. Plus, with its calm azure waters, it's very suitable for beginners. There are plenty of stretches of coastline to explore, but we particularly recommend the headland of Palinuro, characterised by rugged limestone cliffs cut with interesting sea grottoes.

Circumnavigate Cape Palinuro under the shadow of these cliffs to reach Buondormire Beach, one of the most attractive on the Cilento Coast, and ideal for a refreshing swim stop. Continue south and you'll encounter plenty of pebbly beaches, fringed with forest and maquis, and an intriguing rock arch formation . Break for the day at Marina di Camerota, a coastal town where you can refuel with pasta and seafood.

Sea Kayak Italy’s Cilento Coast | Much Better Adventures
Join expert, local guides to paddle wild shores and turquoise coves in Cilento – the Amalfi’s ‘sister coast’ with all the beauty, but none of the crowds.

Don’t Miss: Grotta Azzurra, a sea grotto with vibrant blue water.

Fun Fact: In some towns along the Cilento Coast, fishermen catch anchovies following a millennia-old Greek system called 'la menaika’ - at night, by hand, using a special net.

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Inspired? Check out our other beginner-friendly kayak adventures.