Kayaking is my favorite watercraft activity. Over the years I have tried most other forms of water recreation. Fishing it turns out is mostly boring and occasionally slimy. Water skiing terrified me every single time. Sailing required too much thinking and power boating too much money. Canoeing runs a close second to kayaking but really requires a partner. The new SUP craze looks tempting but I am balance-challenged.
So kayaking it is.
After years of renting kayaks I finally bought my own. I am not a kayak expert by any means, the young outdoorsman at REI considered me clueless. Nonetheless, I now own a spiffy yellow kayak that I can lift into the back of my Mazda and get onto the water by myself.
The far western suburbs of Milwaukee sit on the edge of the Kettle Moraine, covered in forests. ridges, drumlins and moraines. This region is also dotted with lakes, rivers, streams and marshland, giving it the nickname of Lake Country. Within a 15 mile radius I have a multitude of paddling choices. My favorite choice is Pewaukee Lake “on any given Sunday”. Pewaukee Lake, popular for fishing, sailing, and all boating, covers 2400 acres in Waukesha County. The lake has beautiful homes to gawk at, several pubs to pull up to for a break, and a beach on the eastern shore. Sunday mornings I launch early and paddle for an hour, then the lake residents gather for their sailing regattas and I float back, leisurely watching.
Florida Intercoastal Waters
The Intercoastal Waterway runs roughly 3000 miles along the United States Atlantic Seaboard. Florida the most well known segment, starts at Fernandina Beach, at the Georgia/Florida border and runs to Miami. This waterway flows along quiet marshes and mangroves, rivers and streams, man-made canals and cities, all protected by a series of barrier islands. Much of the northern waters are quiet and full of wildlife, the waters become progressively busier as you head south towards Miami.
My favorite kayaking along the Intercoastal is among the still and mysterious mangroves. Much of the 400,000 mangrove acres are in South Florida and the Everglades region. Mangroves are play essential roles in erosion control and as habitat nurseries. They are home to exotic birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. Such amazing critters as juvenile tarpon, seahorses, snowy egrets, kingfishers, turtles, crocodile, key deer and manatees can be spotted from your kayak.
A couple of my favorite spots are the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and the Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Both these parks have kayak rentals and miles of exploration available.
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park is north of Jupiter, FL. The Loxahatchee River flows through the center of the park and the Indian River flows along the eastern edge as intercoastal waters. There are hiking trails, annotated nature trails and the Elsa Kimball Environmental Center. Along the Loxahatchee River closer to the Jupiter Inlet it is possible to spot manatees.
- John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, in North Palm Beach, is the only state park in Palm Beach County. It preserves the natural heritage of subtropical coastal habitat that once covered southeast Florida. You can explore the beach, mangroves, a bird sanctuary island and miles of water.
The Florida Keys have mangroves but they also offer sparkling turquoise flats to kayak. Kayak rentals are available all along the Keys and the clear shallow waters are teeming with life. In addition, there are several opportunities for an “amphibious assault”. This is my son’s term for boating up to the local watering hole for a pint and a bite.
I think every minute in Palau was my favorite something or other. In this case, we spent a day on a kayaking tour of remote islands, mangroves and unbelievable coral beds. Palau is an island nation in the Philippine Sea. The waters, islands, habitats and environment were a fantasy land. Along the mangroves we spotted fish and snakes and unique birds. We paddled some open ocean, some mangrove tunnels, and some isolated lagoons. For more about Palau check out my post here.
Are you ready to jump into a kayak yet? Right now my lovely Pewaukee Lake is covered with at least 3 feet of ice. But I can dream. My last spot to tempt you into kayaking is our latest trip to the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. Just north of the capitol city of La Paz is the incredible Bahai Balandra. This day included serene mangroves and exhilarating ocean waves. There are 8 beaches circling this bay. You can kayak to the beach through the salt lagoon and mangroves. Thanks to Red Travel Mexico for putting this outing together for us. They were an amazing group to tour with.
Add Kayaking to you next destination
I find kayaking relaxing and invigorating. It is an easy and inexpensive way to get on the water. This works at the ocean, along a river, down rapids for the truly adventurous or across a placid freshwater lake. Each body of water has something different to share. Leave your favorite kayaking experiences in the comments.
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