The 6 Best Kayaking Locations In The World (An Insiders Guide)

If you’re going to be traveling to an exotic location, one of the most exciting activities you can participate in is kayaking. It’s a great core and arm workout, and an even better way of seeing some of the gorgeous natural landscapes they each have to offer.

However, as you aren’t likely very familiar with the area, we recommend having a local professional to lead you. That’s where we come in, with the best of our kayaking tours!


In terms of beauty and wildlife, Maui is pretty hard to beat. It’s no question then, why it’s one of the top vacation/kayaking destinations! Thanks to its long stretches of calm waters, it’s perfect for anyone – no matter their experience level!

If you’re into whale watching, this is one of the most incredible ways to see the gentle giants. Large, commercial boats are more attractive for many, as you don’t have to put in any physical work. However, this also means you won’t get up close and personal with Humpback Whales and occasionally dolphins!

Depending on which part of Maui you go, you’ll see everything from large coral heads, schools of tropical fish, to Sturgeons, Wrasse, Tangs, and plenty of sea turtles! These Maui kayaking tours will oftentimes include a Naturalist who will point out the animals you come across, teaching you about their natural habits – pretty cool!

Most Popular Places in Maui for Kayaking:

  • Turtle Town
  • Olowalu
  • Honolua Bay
  • Molokini
  • Hanakao’o Beach Park


oahu kayaking

Oahu is known worldwide for its top-notch surfing, but did you know it’s also a prime kayaking spot? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be worried about being barrel-rolled by a massive wave! There are plenty of calm stretches here as well that are perfect for paddling at your own pace. With extensive white beaches, large bays, and exciting coves and grottos, there’s plenty of adventure to be had!

There are plenty of great kayaking tours in Oahu, and each one will take you somewhere different.

Most Popular Places for Kayaking in Oahu:

  • Kahana Bay: Ideal for beginners, with lush, green valleys and rainforest surrounding you! You’ll see plenty of sea turtles and have the chance to take a little swim in freshwater pools. Not to mention, you’ll pass bird sanctuaries!
  • He’eia State Park Fishpond: This calm spot is another beginner-friendly pond surrounded by volcanic walls.
  • Kailua Beach: Pristine beaches and calm waters are ideal for those just starting out. You may see some Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters, Brown Noddies, Noio Koha, Abatross, and maybe even Blue-Footed Boobies!
  • Lanikai Beach: Sitting right next to Kailua, many tours take you to both beaches. It’s a bit more “backyard” than Kailua, and is accessible only by pedestrian walkways.
  • Flat Island: Tide pools and shallow reefs around the island make it amazing for seeing colorful sea life! You’ll almost certainly see some Honu and other smaller reef fish, though it’s busier than the others.


Kauai kayaking

Keeping consistent with our Hawaiian theme, Kauai is a simply breathtaking spot to go kayaking. Nicknamed “the Garden Island”, you can imagine the lush, deep green foliage and blue waters surrounding it. It offers more of a “hidden beauty” available only to those who dare to venture onward.

We love these kayaking tours of Kauai, as you’ll get to try both sea kayaking and inland river kayaking options, depending on how experienced you are. Sea kayaking can get pretty challenging, so if you’re just starting out, you’ll likely want to go the river route.

Most Popular Places in Kauai for Kayaking:

  • Huleia River: Paddle through the incredible 238-acre Huleia Wildlife Refuge, which is where hundreds of endangered bird and plant species call home. The 1000-year-old Menehune fishpond is located here as well, so you get the chance to see that!
  • Hanalei River and Bay: This kayaking tour seemed like we were in another world, paddling past taro fields and tropical rainforests before arriving to the bay. Once you arrive, you’ll discover the immense Mount Makana overhead!
  • Napali Coast: Napali Coast could be considered the gem of Kauai, which is really saying something. The mountainous coastline, immense falls, and deepsea caves are perfect for the adventurer.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico kayaking

Puerto Rico is already known for its immense natural beauty, but did you know it’s also one of the very few places in the world where bioluminescence occurs? Best seen after the sun goes down, these nighttime adventures are magical!

These glowing bays are thanks to the plankton that reside in this marine habitat. To make sure you know where you’re going, the oars or actual kayak are lit up, and you have a guide to lead the way one of these Puerto Rico bioluminescent tours!

Most Popular Places in Puerto Rico for Kayaking:

  • Mosquito Bay: In 2006, Guinness World Records actually named this as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world! This is thanks to the unique mangrove swamps which the plankton feed off of, along with the lack of light pollution in the area. The wildlife here are simply amazing! It’s not uncommon to spot nurse sharks, rays, and even manatees!
  • Laguna Grande in Fajardo: This is the most visited bioluminescent bay in the country, thanks to how close it is to the capital of San Juan. It’s not a bay, but rather a long canal that ends up in the glowing lagoon! You may see Common Snook, Tarpon, and Shortfin Pompano, along with Parrotfish, Spanish Hogfish, Moorish Idols, and more!
  • La Parguera in Lajas: Located at the southwestern part of PR, here you’ll find frequent motorboat traffic. It’s also the only bio spot where swimming is allowed! We loved the glass-bottom kayak tours here! Sea turtles and reefs call this place home.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica kayaking

Boasting over 20 rivers on Pacific and Caribbean coasts, Costa Rica offers basically limitless kayaking! For more challenging routes, you can try sea kayaking. For beginners, there are calm river routes to take (we love the mangrove mazes!).

While this tropical country is a hotbed of natural beauty and adventure, there are few ways to see it this intimately as with one of these Costa Rica kayaking tours. You don’t have massive boats or noisy vehicles that could disturb the shyer wildlife, making it ideal for bird-watchers!

What ultimately sets Costa Rica apart from most other kayaking locations in the world, is its sheer biodiversity. Each of its different regions offer something completely distinct from the others in terms of experience, natural landscapes, and wildlife.

Most Popular Places for Kayaking in Costa Rica:

  • Damas Island Estuary, Manuel Antonio: If the idea of kayaking through mangroves struck your eye, you’ll love this estuary full of them. It’s not uncommon to see monkeys flying around, pumas lurking, and water birds hanging out.
  • Lake Arenal, Arenal Volcano: This is one of the best spots for absolute beginners or children, thanks to the very calm waters and magnificent views of the looming Arenal Volcano! You’re likely to see the machaca and rainbow bass, along with jaguar, tapir, quetzal, and many more exotic beauties.
  • Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula: Kayaking at Golfo Dulce is a calm and serene experience, with clear waters where dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and all kinds of other creatures reside.
  • Tamarindo Mangrove Esturary, Guanacaste: The mangrove ecosystem is bursting at the seams with wildlife! Crocodiles, Howler monkeys, iguanas, and tons of water birds reside here. You’ll likely see many more critters than you would in a boat that can scare them away.


If you’re staying in Lisbon or Albufeira and want to experience all of Portugal’s Mother Nature in all its splendor, say no more. These kayaking tours in Portugal take care of all the transportation for you, offering you a unique opportunity to explore the various coastlines, caves, and wildlife.

From untouched beaches and crystal-clear water to hidden grottos and rugged cliffsides, Portugal is easily one of the most magnificent countries in the world. Kayaking allows you to see a large part of it, otherwise inaccessible to visitors.

Most Popular Places in Portugal for Kayaking:

  • Sesimbra: Seemingly untouched by humans, kayaking in Sesimbra is a breathtaking experience. You’ll pass by some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, and is still close enough to Lisbon that you could make an easy day trip.You’ll see plenty of reefs filled with bright gorgonians and anemones, snappers, pigfish, sunfish, cuttlefish, and even seahorses!
  • Benagil: The Benagil Hidden Caves have to be seen to believed! If you’re looking to escape the city, this is the way to do it. It’s relaxing, educational, and perfect for learning how to kayak as it’s so exclusive and calm. Watch out for dolphins playing around in their natural environment!
  • Arrábida: Arrábida Natural Park is always such a hassle-free, pleasant experience with turquoise waters and interesting rock formations. The calm and clear waters are perfect for beginners and make it easy to see sea life underneath the surface.
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