Here are the world’s premier sea kayaking spots – from glaciers to islands – which deserve to be included on your bucket list.
Kayak trips offer unparalleled wildlife and scenery experiences, from seabirds swooping between blue skies to teal waters, humpback whales surfacing to breathe, to kayakers exploring stunning environments afloat.
1. San Juan Islands
Comprised of 172 islands across the Pacific Northwest’s Salish Sea, this remote archipelago draws visitors from near and far to experience its evergreen forests, pristine waters, abundant wildlife, rich history and vibrant art scene. Orcas, San Juan and Lopez islands serve as hubs for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling kayaking and spotting native whales as well as 200+ bird species – which attract thousands of visitors every year!
Roche Harbor, located on San Juan Island’s quaint resort village, features pastel-colored houses atop a hill that overlooks its main pier where kayakers prepare for saltwater adventures and yachtsmen await departure dockside. While staying here, guests can indulge in gourmet seafood, spa services, and the 20-acre San Juan Islands Sculpture Park featuring meadows and woodland with over 125 artworks by local artists – perfect for an island escape!
Orcas Island’s jagged coastline with bluffs, bays, and islets offers kayakers an ideal setting. Paddling close to shore in clear waters surrounded by temperate rainforest can result in sightings of otters, seals, or whales on their journey outward. REI Adventures provides guided trips on Orcas for an enhanced kayaking experience.
After arriving by ferry on San Juan Island, begin with a visit to Friday Harbor Whale Museum before exploring Lime Kiln Point State Park on its western side where pods of whales often gather between May and September. You may also join one of San Juan Outfitters whale watching excursions for better chances at witnessing these magnificent animals!
San Juan Islands have long been considered a culinary oasis, boasting abundant farms (both land and ocean-based), orchards, vineyards, distilleries and breweries as well as country vineyards that make for breathtaking scenery complemented by island-grown wines, fresh oysters, farm-to-table cuisine and handmade jams and honey produced on these picturesque islands. Accessing them is made easy via ferry connections that connect all major towns and islands; alternatively rent bikes from Lopez Bicycle Works located within “the Village” to explore independently on your own – or stay at one of these hotels that offer shuttle services such as Lakedale Resort or Snug Harbor Resort where shuttle services exist between hotels offering shuttles to reach them by ferry like Lakedale Resort or Snug Harbor Resort for instance!
2. The Napali Coast
Kauai’s Napali Coast boasts 17 miles of stunning coastal beauty with towering cliffs, lush valleys and cascading waterfalls that will leave an indelible mark. Hike rugged trails or take an aerial kayak tour for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to leave this captivating region with you forever.
Though hiking the Napali Coast can be enjoyable and adventurous, kayaking may be the superior way to experience its beauty. Kayaking tours provide all necessary equipment and safety instructions. For beginners interested in getting their paddle on, guided kayak tours provide all essential safety instructions and gear.
Snorkeling along the Napali Coast’s crystal clear waters can also offer an enjoyable adventure, providing the chance to spot exotic marine wildlife such as dolphins, Honus (Hawaiian Green Turtle), monk seals, and other rare marine inhabitants.
Napali Coast is an ecosystem of great significance and therefore, visitors should follow Leave No Trace principles whenever visiting. Be sure to pack all trash when leaving, stay a safe distance from native wildlife, bring water and snacks for when hungry strikes during your exploration and wear appropriate attire with sun protection in mind.
3. Sea of Cortez
Jacques Cousteau famously dubbed this marine sanctuary off Baja California “the world’s aquarium”, and kayakers can explore this breathtaking ocean environment while discovering all manner of aquatic wildlife – from dolphin pods to colonies of sea lions along the shoreline, there’s plenty to experience here! Kayakers can paddle amongst islands and deserted beaches while witnessing this amazing ocean habitat and witness its beautiful marine inhabitants!
Isla Santa Catalina is famous for its giant barrel and cardon cacti, rattleless rattlesnakes, and other bizarre natural wonders. Additionally, this island paradise serves as an important breeding and feeding ground for humpback whales; tours available between December and April allow kayakers to witness these majestic marine mammals up close in their natural environment.
Irish kayaking’s western coast offers endless islands, breathtaking rock stacks, and breath-taking landscapes to kayakers of all levels. Dun Briste is an iconic photo backdrop, but expert kayakers can explore closer and discover its otherworldly beauty on guided trips. Additionally, this UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts historic landmarks, vibrant whiskey culture, and breathtaking scenery – perfect conditions for kayakers.
Cuba boasts thousands of miles of coastline and an expansive, vibrant marine ecosystem, boasting some of the healthiest coral reefs in the Caribbean and an array of seabirds and mollusks to observe. Spend your days paddling through this captivating marine world before experiencing Cuba’s unique culture at night!
Jupiter, with its pristine beaches where you can relax & play online games on sites reviewed on yoakimbridge.com, swaying palm trees, and tall red lighthouse, is an off-radar beach town ideal for beginners and families. Paddlers can paddle across gentle turquoise waves while watching out for sea turtles, manatees, starfish and starfish as they pass. Only an hour’s drive away from Miami this quiet beach destination also serves as an ideal location for watersports activities like snorkeling and sport fishing; sailing windsurfing and sailing are popular watersports activities that take advantage of calm waters; kayakers can experience all this coastal city’s beauty with ease and convenience!
The Pacific Islands provide numerous water-bound adventures, but Hawaii stands out as an especially good sea kayaking spot. Paddle along rocky cliffs to sea caves on the North Shore or head out into open water to spot orcas between July and August; Lanai offers great snorkeling along wild beaches and sea cliffs and provides ample chances to spot sea turtles!
Kenai Fjords National Park features glacial-carved fjords covered with forests that serve as home for moose, brown bears, harbor seals and humpback whales, kayaking expeditions offer incredible bird’s-eye views of Harding Icefield as well as orcas; kayakers also get an aerial perspective on marine life around Northern Vancouver Island’s Islands such as miles of windswept beaches and sea cliffs filled with marine life such as orcas; Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound are rich with wildlife that you might spot from kayaking expeditions!
Cuba stands out as one of the premier sea kayaking spots in the Caribbean due to its vibrant marine ecosystem, robust reefs and vibrant culture. Home to an abundance of cichlid fish species and numerous protected bays for paddlers to paddle on calm waters with ample wildlife; paddling along its eastern coastline follows in Christopher Columbus’ footsteps while visiting Zapata National Park’s southern shore will reveal stunning landscapes and natural splendor.
For those who prefer staying on land, touring the botanical gardens will likely be an enjoyable experience. Meanwhile, Big Island’s volcanoes and rainforest provide breathtaking scenery perfect for hiking and mountain biking – and true madcaps can bike up Kilauea volcano before kayaking its bubbling lava! Kayaking provides another fun way of exploring this volcanic region and discovering hidden nooks, crannies, deserted beaches away from crowds of tourists; for an equally thrilling outdoor adventure experience consider renting a bicycle instead!