Kayaking Around The World: North America North America

Kayaking is an exciting and active way to explore your surroundings where ever you are in the world. You get the chance to see a destination from a completely different perspective.

Kayaking can be done in almost any country in the world – which got me thinking. Where in the world are the best and most jaw-dropping spots to go kayaking?

I’ve asked travel writers and bloggers from around the world to share their favourite kayaking experiences with me and the response has been so overwhelming that I have decided to turn Kayaking Around The World into a brand new series. Each month between now and September I will be publishing a new part of the series, starting with North America.

So if you’re travelling to North America this year and you’re looking for a way to explore the great outdoors or simply want an alternative to sightseeing, then read on and be prepared to be inspired.


Desolation Sound, Canada by Megan Roughley from Where My Travels Take Me

Kayaking Desolation Sound

The Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park in British Columbia boasts the most magical views from inside your kayak. I enjoyed a nine day camping trip from island to island in the summer of 2014. Be prepared to watch humpback whales breach, jellyfish swim under your kayak, and seals bask in the sunlight. You’ll pass mountains and fjords, and if you’re there at the right time of year you’ll be able to watch the water glow with phosphorescence. Kayaking in the Desolation Sound area is an adventure you will never forget.

The stars seem brighter, the water bluer, and the trees greener! This visceral experience will bring you back to your roots and remind you of the magic of nature. I highly recommend it!


Whittier, Alaska by Susanna Kelly from Wandering Chocobo

Kayaking Whittier Alaska

Alaska is one of the most breathtaking places to go on a kayak adventure. Somewhere between gliding past rugged mountains and spotting an otter, prying into an oyster, you know that you’re truly in the last frontier. There are many spots I recommend for Kayaking in Alaska, but one of my favorites is in Whittier, Alaska.

Getting there is half the fun. Whittier is a tiny remote town in Alaska, in which the only access is a single lane road that goes straight through a mountain. Almost everyone there lives in one giant apartment building, it’s quite the quirky town! Once you emerge from the tunnel you’ll find yourself nestled between snow capped mountains and gorgeous green bays. Rent Kayaks from Alaska Sea Kayaks and take a guided or self guided day trip, or even a five-day whale excursion depending on your ambition. No matter what option you choose you’ll find yourself surrounded by nature, unlike anywhere else in the world. If glaciers are your thing, head to Portage Lake, just next to Whittier and Kayak near calving glaciers!


O’ahu, Hawai’i by Katie McIntosh from The Katie Show Blog 

Kayaking O’ahu Hawaii

The most scenic place that I have ever kayaked is from Lanikai Beach to Na Mokulua, or ‘The Mokes’ as they are commonly known, on the Island of O’ahu in Hawai’i. Lanikai Beach is one of the most overly instagrammed, postcard perfect beaches and kayaking there is like cruising through a dreamy, tropical movie!

‘The Mokes’ are made up of two islands, Moku Nui and Moku Iki, though you can only park your kayak and explore Moku Nui as the other is off-limits. It’s only a short kayak trip so once you arrive on Moku Nui you will still have enough energy for some adventure and you can bathe in natural rock infinity pools, relax on the islands beach or even try some cliff diving! There are local businesses in the area where you can rent a kayak and walk it down to the beach which is handy and there are also great places to stop and get a shave ice after your adventure too.


Mendocino, California Lia & Jeremy from Practical Wanderlust 

Kayaking Mendocino California

Mendocino is a gorgeous coastal town in northern California, a few hours north of San Francisco via the scenic highway 1. It’s best known for wine tasting and outdoor activities such as kayaking (ideally not at the same time, though). Mendocino is located on the Pacific Ocean and is home to a unique river estuary that feeds out to the Pacific and ebbs and flows with the tide. The estuary is home to otters, sea lions, herons, and more sea critters who want to bask in the calm waters and explore the many estuary coves and paths. We rented kayaks from Catch a Canoe. If the calm estuary lined with sequoias isn’t for you, you can also explore sea caves, reefs, and tide pools with Kayak Mendocino!


La Paz, Baja Mexico by Leigh from Campfires & Concierges 

Kayaking Baja Mexico

I have been a kayaker for over 10 years and have enjoyed paddling all over the world – from Hawaii and Phuket to my hometown of Chicago.

My last vacation was a kayak trip with OARS, Sea Kayaking Espiritu Santo Island off the coast of Baja Mexico.  We left from La Paz, and took a motorboat to an island campsite where we stayed for 4 nights.  Each day, we had the option to kayak, snorkel or hike.  Some days the wind was too much for kayaking, other days could paddle to nearby bays and go for hikes.  In other seasons, this trip is run as an expedition where you kayak to a new campsite each night.  This was a great place to kayak, I highly recommend it!


Burlington, Vermont by Naomi Liz Figueroa from Roaming the Americas 

Kayaking Burlington Vermont

If you’re like me when you travel to Burlington, Vermont, you’ll likely be on the hunt for all the best scenic views in town. Burlington sits on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, which had a stint as the sixth Great Lake for a few weeks in 1998, and it’s surrounded by mountain ranges on both sides. On summer nights, the waterfront parks are crowded with people hoping for the best viewpoint as the sun dips below the Adirondack mountains in the distance. I found a few great sunset spots while I was there, even some away from the crowds.

But one of my favorite ways to experience Burlington’s natural beauty was getting out onto the water in a kayak. Being in the lake–feeling the cool water on my skin after a day of hiking–was so different than looking at it from the shoreline. It’s a view that, I’m certain, I’d never get tired of looking at.


Saint Thomas USVI in Hull Bay, US Virgin Islands by Meghan Ramsey from The Traveling Teacher 

Kayaking St Thomas Hull Bay

The best place I have ever been kayaking was in Saint Thomas USVI in Hull Bay. Many people who come to St. Thomas choose to go to Magens Bay or other popular tourist beaches, but to experience real beauty and adventure, you need to visit the northern side of the island.

When we arrived to our rental, the bay was completely empty! We started our kayaking through the bay and we could see all the way to the bottom of the ocean (even when the water was 30 feet deep. As we kayaked sea turtles, fish, and a ship wreck were underneath us. We were surrounded by beautiful cliffs, boats, and greenery along the coast. We also got the change to snorkel and explore the ocean under us as we parked our kayaks on the beach. While everyone else sat on crowded beaches, we experienced the unique side of Saint Thomas kayaking on the ocean! It was the perfect remote spot to experience nature and see a beautiful island.


Sunshine Coast, Canada by Gemma & Craig from Two Scots Abroad

Kayaking Sunshine Coast BC

A short ferry ride away from the British Columbian city of Vancouver is the lesser-known area, Sunshine Coast and it is a hotbed for those who love outdoor activities. You can kayak at various stops around the Coast but we opted for paddling amongst the boats at the Coasts’ port town, Gibsons. We teamed up with Salty’s Adventures who got us out on the water where we boated to Keats Island. The plan was to paddle around it but this proved a tad too adventurous for our out of action arms (blame long-term travel) so spun and paddled back with the mountains behind us, content at a good three-hour workout.

When we return to the Sunshine Coast (which we plan to on a more permanent basis), I’m looking forward to catching up with Salty’s Adventures as they’ve migrated towards specialised tours, including a culinary kayak trip which intrigues me! If you are looking for kayak rental on the Coast, check out Pedals and Paddles at the secluded Sechelt inlet.

Is your favourite kayaking spot in North America missing? Got a kayaking experience you want to share? Tell me about it in the comments below!

The next part of the Kayaking Around the World series will be published in May, so watch that space!

The title image for this post has been kindly provided by Megan Roughley from Where My Travels Take Me

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Kayaking North America


  1. These are some great spots – thanks for including mine!

  2. Beautiful photos! I have been really wanting to get into kayaking, but being in Phoenix I have limited resources. 🙂 Whittier Alaska is incredibly beautiful! I love going out of that town for fishing trips!

  3. I love Kayaking and the places you’ve highlighted look fantastic! I just wrote a blog post about Croatia where I actually mention the nicest Kayaking spot in the Adriatic see…http://mytravelmoment.com/10-moments-live-croatia. Feel free to have a read and you might want to go there.

  4. I really wish I could pack my kayak into a suitcase and take it everywhere with me. Particularly Alaska or Canada!

  5. Just returned from camping down the Baja and doing some kayaking as well on the Sea of Cortez. Thanks for sharing the great pics. Kayaking in Alaska looks amazing! 🙂

  6. I’ve never been much into kayaking until I moved to El Nido, Philippines. I love it but can’t imagine going to places like Alaska to kayak given the cold waters. However, the beauty of it seems so enticing and seeing the rugged mountains that you describe would be incredible. Tons of spots in North America but this is a great stating point. Thanks for the list!

  7. Wow, looks like so many good and different spots for kayaking here. I can’t imagine kayaking somewhere cold like Alaska but I’d give it a go!

  8. […] kayaking adventures in other parts of the world? Fear not, I’ve got you covered. Check out Kayaking Around the World: North America and Kayaking Around the World: Europe for […]

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