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How to Plan the Ultimate Summer Kayaking Trip in the U.S.

By June 8, 2016October 8th, 2017No Comments

Although I love being on a sandy beach, it only truly feels like summer when I get into a boat. All sorts of nautical adventures, from catamaran sailing in Sri Lanka to pontoon adventures in Louisiana have helped me celebrate my favorite season. However, my fondest memories come from kayaking when I was growing up and traveling across the U.S. It was fairly simple to pick up as a teenager, and is a wonderful way to explore all corners of the sea, lakes, rivers and hidden waterfalls. Here’s a few of my top kayaking destinations I’ve enjoyed over the years, with plenty of group travel tours and rental options for crews of any size.


Glacier Bay & more, Alaska

I won’t lie, memories of Alaska via kayak remind me of yelling at my brother as our dumb boat went around in circles. We weren’t the best sea kayaking partners and I had wild fantasies of dumping him out in the frigid water. However, the other vivid recollection I have is of the otherworldly scenery around every corner. Even novices like us were able to glide past glaciers, towering mountains and endless miles of sense pine forests. We even saw a few bears having a break along the lake shore.

kayaking in glacier national park alaska via flickr


Monterey Bay, California

There’s nothing like a west coast summer road trip that makes a stop in Monterey. Known most for its rich marine life, travelers can kayak through the bay in front of the aquarium to immerse in the local environment. Lucky seafarers will be rewarded with glances of swimming otters in the massive brown kelp beds.



Acadia National Park, Maine

Only a few hours from my home state of Massachusetts, many summers were spent on the beautiful coast and inland waterways of Maine. Hundreds of miles of coastline welcome kayak enthusiasts to indulge in a breezy summer adventure. You can take quick four-hour trips to just get a taste or spend the whole week spotting bald eagles, visiting secluded beaches and perfecting your kayak skills.


man in bucket hat in kayak in maine via flickr



Puerto Rico

Maybe you’re thinking of super sunny paddling through gentle waves around the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. But I say – kayak there at night! In Farjardo on the northeast side there is an incredible bay that glows at night from an unlikely occurrence. Navigate the mangroves by cover of darkness to find the Laguna Grande. With a quick tap of paddle or hand, you’ll see a very distinct blue glow, called bio-luminescence, given off by tiny plankton in the water. On a balmy evening, it can be a magical thing to witness as you kayak through a fantastic natural wonder.


bio bay kayakers in puerto rico via Flickr




I had to include Hawaii, although I’s the only spot on the list I have yet to experience first-hand. I hear that this other-worldly state offers so much to outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who are obsessed with the water. One of the most popular areas to try sea kayaking is along the Napali coastline, full of staggering, scenic cliffs and tropical wildlife.

kid kayaking in hawaii via flickr


Thanks to Paddle Pursuits for the extra tips and inspiration!

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

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