Sea kayaking advice

Weather tips

Jon Kellie, sea kayaking instructor and guide at Preseli Venture, one of our suppliers:
"In Pembrokeshire there are so many peninsulas to protect you, that there is always somewhere to hide from the weather. And 99 times out of 100 we can get out on the water, all year round. In the last couple of years we have only had to stay off the water twice, and even then we can make it to an inland spot if necessary"

Guide tips

Catherine Mack, writer at Responsible Travel and keen sea kayaker:
"Research the expertise of your guides. Read reviews and ask questions of your supplier regarding their experience. And don’t ever hesitate about paying a bit more for a guide. It is worth every penny in terms of safety but also to find out all their secret spots!"

Health & safety


If you or your children have any particular health needs, always tell your guide. Sea kayaking can be strenuous so, for example, if diabetes is an issue, be prepared, and always tell your guide. If they are good, they will have glucose in their first aid kits. Sea kayaking is not considered to be an extreme sport for insurance purposes. That is more white water river kayaking. Carry bug spray as shorelines can have sand flies, midges and mosquitoes in some locations, especially if you are wild camping in the evenings or going on sunset sea kayaking outings. Ensure that you have a back support in your sea kayak and that your foot rest is well adjusted to keep your body in a healthy position. If you suffer from motion sickness, it can hit you out on the waves sometimes. But this is rare. If it does, look at the horizon and if you are going to be sick, don’t panic. Just do it. It has happened to the best of sea kayakers. Better out than in. Some people worry they might be too old for sea kayaking, but this is one of the most gentle outdoor activities you can choose, beyond walking. And it is much easier on the knees anyway. It is deceptive because you are on the water. But you will get dehydrated, so it is important to bring water with you on a trip. You will be very exposed on a sea kayaking holiday, so sun hats and sun cream with a high factor is vital. Bring an extra layer with you too just in case you start to get shivery at the end of the day, or if the wind picks up.


Ask who your sea kayakers are affiliated with. The British Canoe Union, Irish Canoe Union, Canoe Wales and European Paddle Pass are some of the respected bodies you want to look out for. A good guide will have a level 3 qualification. If they only have level 1 or 2, they should only paddle in very sheltered and non-moving water, and no more than 50m from the shore. A good question to ask a sea kayaking company is "what are your sea kayaking guide's ratios?" In other words, how many people they will take out on the water for each guide. This applies to boats rather than people, and anything from one to eight boats per guide is acceptable. There is a bit more flexibility in a sheltered bay. Good kit is important too and, again, if the sea kayaking company is associated with an official body, they are more likely to have that. Helmets are a must when rocks and choppy water are going to be on your itinerary. On long-distance sea kayaking trips good kayaking instructors will have made contact with coastguards to tell them your route and the number of people in the party. If you are a nervous parent when you take your children on the water, don’t be embarrassed about that. It is normal. Don’t be afraid to tell the guides what you feel your, or your child’s comfort levels are. They are professionals and know how to deal with every situation. So, if you get the wobbles because you think your child has gone too far, then tell your guide. Good ones will have a beady eye on all of you, and especially the children. And the top guides will also quietly reassure you from time to time. If you worry that your child might get tired and not able to cope, all guides carry a rope and can give you a tow if necessary. This is normal and prevents exhaustion on the water. In cold water environments, be extra vigilant regarding safety. In severe cold, if you are not well equipped with dry gear, safety equipment and radio contact, the rescue time can be reduced to as little as five minutes.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sea kayaking or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Sea kayaking tips from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful sea kayaking travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Take a waterproof camera
– Martin Clark
"Although it's suitable for beginners, 7-15km a day is quite a fair distance so you do need to be fit. Also bear in mind that the itinerary and distances stated may need to change due to weather conditions and/or the overall ability of the group. Remain flexible!" - Christine Louise Angelou

"Remember to stretch before you kayak." - Rebecca Emmett

"Take plenty of warm thermal tops - the drying room is not that efficient and your things may not dry overnight. - Lucy Thomson

"Don't worry that it will be too much hard work - the pace of paddling is suited to everyone. If you paddle slowly you have more time to enjoy the scenery while quicker people are can always do a few extra laps to burn off their energy." - Lavinia Colley
If I were to do it again, I'd probably get to the gym a few times beforehand to prepare.
– Heidi Applegate
"Take some easy to pull on dry stuff to chuck on when you get out of the water, E.g. couple of pairs of long shorts or for girls a wrap around skirt and a couple of fleecy type tops." - Andrea Miller

"Sea kayaking is trickier than it looks when it is windy, as it is hard paddling and steering in a headwind. Be prepared to be adaptable, but the guides ensure that you have a good time whatever the wind level. They were really happy to take us out round the bay and practice our skills when the weather wasn't quite right for a longer paddle. As our guide Tap's motto goes - 'There are always options!'" - Michelle Reed

"Make sure you take a good lip protector, the sun and sea reflection is powerful and I burnt my lips. A dry bag for your camera whilst your kayaking, because you will be stopping all the time to take photos of the fabulous scenery." - Susan Bein
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Aaron Burden] [Weather tips: Odd Wellies] [Guide tips : Outdoor Albania] [Martin Clark Quote: cisc1970] [Heidi Applegate Quote: Ollie Harding]