Nothing says summer vacation like a family kayaking trip. If you love the water, but want a little more from your vacation, consider a trip with a kayaking component as part of a grander experience.
Here are five family vacation destinations where you can immerse yourself in the culture and get a bit of paddle time:
Probably the first place that comes to mind when you think of a family kayaking trip is Costa Rica —us, too! (Along with all kinds of other multisport adventures such as ziplining, snorkeling and whitewater rafting.) Kayaking in a Costa Rican tidal estuary amid the mangrove trees is scenic and serene. You’re likely to spot egrets, anteaters and basiliscus lizards. And you might even gain an extra passenger on your craft — one of the many howler monkeys living in the surrounding trees.
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia
Paddling around the serene waters of Halong Bay is magical. The towering limestone islands jut out of the emerald waters in such a way, you wonder if they are real. While taking in this scenery is breathtaking, the way you got here is pretty cool, too. Imagine being aboard a luxury junk boat skimming across the bay as you get a lesson in making spring rolls from a professional chef.
Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
Sometimes we enjoy kayaking as a means to an end. And nowhere is that more true than in Croatia. But an amazing “means” it is as you paddle calm waters from the coast to Lokrum Island. Skirt the shoreline to see many caves and beautiful rock beaches. And don’t forget to look down — the water here is clear to a depth of 30 feet or more. Perfect for an afternoon swim. Once you step on land, this uninhabited island is home to a nature reserve, botanical gardens and a fortress. As you make your way to the island’s private lake, you’re likely to come face-to-beak with a peacock who will happily show off for you.
The Pont-du-Gard is as much a technical masterpiece as it is a beautiful marker of Roman history and architecture. Built more than 2,000 years ago, the Roman aqueduct is more than 900 feet long and nearly 165 feet high. Despite those numbers, it’s hard to imagine the enormity of it until you are paddling through its archways on the Gardon River. Enjoy a picnic on the banks and spend the afternoon paddling and exploring this lovely destination in southern France.
The Galápagos Islands
Another all-time favorite on the list of family kayaking trip destinations is the Galápagos Islands. Visit the northern coast of San Cristóbal Island for calm-water kayaking — the most movement you’ll encounter here is from the baby sea lions playing and swimming alongside your kayak. Take a break from paddling to snorkel with prehistoric-looking marine iguanas. You’ll spot giant mantas, sea turtles and, of course, loads of fish. But the highlight of this show is the baby sea lions that will swim up, give you a kiss and then they’re off again.