Kayaking as a family has become one of our all-time favorite things to do. We have been kayaking with kids since our second son was 18 months old. Every year it gets a little easier since the kids get older. It also gets easier because we learn a little more each year. If you’re thinking about giving it a try, these tips for kayaking with kids are sure to make your experience even more fun!
7 Tips for Kayaking with Kids
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Choose a sit on kayak.
One of the things that I love so much about kayaking is that it’s a fairly inexpensive activity for the family to do, and it’s pretty easy to find rental places. That said, you may or may not have a choice when renting as to what kind of kayak you will get. If you do, the people at the rental place will often advise you to choose a sit on rather than a sit IN one if you’re working with kids.Kayaks are very easy to handle, and very rarely tip (I’m talking it would actually take extreme effort to tip one). However, if you DO manage to tip one, the sit on ones just flip over, and you don’t need to worry about having water in the kayak.
The first time someone suggested this to me, I was a little worried because I liked having my little one down inside the kayak. I actually found it easier to work with the sit on kayak though. It made seating a little more flexible.
Wear the proper safety gear.
Children should always wear a life preserver. While most rental places offer child sized life vests, if you’re planning to go often, and concerned you won’t always be able to get a child sized life vest, you can get them here. They’re not terribly expensive.
Consider the ages of the kids in your group.
If you have smaller kids in your group that will be paddling their own kayak, make your trip short in distance, plan to have someone pick them up down stream, or carry a tow rope just in case. There is nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of a lake with an 8 year old that has decided he can no longer row. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Also, unless your kids are experienced (and I’m guessing they aren’t or you wouldn’t be here!), choose a very lazy river, or a lake. Any kind of current, no matter how small it may seem when looking at the body of water, can make it much more difficult to row.
Pack snacks or a lunch.
If you’re planning on exploring, or relaxing on the kayaks, it’s always good to bring snack and drinks with you. I can’t tell you how many times we have been out on the water thinking it was only going to be an hour or so, and wished we had planned ahead and brought snacks or a picnic lunch. It’s nice to find a secluded spot, get out of your kayaks, check things out, and eat. It gives kids a chance to get their energy back too!
Last year, we went to Daytona Beach for vacation. We were lucky enough to work with Blue Coast Shop. We paddled kayaks on the Halifax river, and with the guidance they gave use before hand, we were able to see dolphins, and find some really cool wildlife on an island in the river. Thanks to them, we knew to park our kayaks and explore. It was a super fun experience, and we were grateful we brought snacks and drinks (something we hadn’t thought to do before they mentioned it!) If you’re ever in Daytona Beach, this is one thing I would definitely recommend you do as a family! The employees at Blue Coast Shop were incredibly knowledgeable, and we had a fantastic time! We has a 14 year old, 10 year old, 7 year old, and a 4 year old. We were all able to enjoy the experience and it was fun for all ages.
Use a waterproof case for your phone, and a waterproof bag.
You will want to bring some things with you that you don’t want to get wet. It’s not a bad idea to bring a towel with you (at least one), and if you bring food, you’ll want it to stay dry. This is the bag we got after the first time we went rafting. This is the pouch that we put our phones in to keep them from getting wet, or worrying that we might drop it in the river. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, when I dropped my phone into the Juniata river a few years ago.
Wear water shoes.
We never think about wearing water shoes because we figure we can just take our shoes off. The problem is in many rivers and lakes it’s not always a great idea to go barefoot. River rock can hurt!! It’s also slippery, and you can’t wear flip flops.
I just got my first pair of Chacos (and got them for the kids) and I’m in love! They are the perfect sandal for us. We can wear them kayaking, or hiking, or exploring the river. We don’t have to worry about having heavy wet tennis shoes for the rest of our hike, or wear ugly water shoes that take forever to get on!
Consider renting a single kayak even if you’re riding with a passenger.
Unless you’re paddling with a slightly older child, it’s not necessarily a good idea to use a tandem kayak. They are HARD to paddle alone. I have sat my kids up to 6/7 years old in a single kayak with me. We have also rented stand up paddle boards and had our older, nut not quite ready to paddle on their own, sit on the board. Once they are about 8, our kids have been able to paddle on their own, or could do a tandem.
I hope these tips for kayaking with kids have encouraged you to try it with your family. We love going, and are hoping someday we will be able to get our own kayaks. In the meantime, we love being able to rent them all over the place!!
Do you have any tips for kayaking with kids? Leave them in the comments!! We would love to hear them!