Top 10 sea kayaking holidays

You don’t need to be a rapids chaser to enjoy some of the best sea kayaking spots around the world. If you want to experience travelling in a very different way, try paddling around the coasts of Croatia, Sweden or Spain. Discover archipelagos you didn’t know existed and beaches without another soul in sight, even in high season. Kayaking instructors and guides pride themselves on knowing the secluded spots to escape to. By going on one of their holidays, you get the key to unlock all the best secrets. OK, maybe not all of them; they have to keep a few to themselves.

1. Croatia

Few places in the world merit the term archipelagic arcadia, but the Croatian coast with its 1,000 island idylls most definitely does. If you have been put off Croatia by its growing reputation of cruises and crowds, then think again and paddle your way around the exquisite Elaphiti Islands, Mljet Marine National Park or inland down the Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers in Velebit Nature Park which bring you down to the sea. Here, you can definitely paddle in peace.

Best time to paddle: March - October
Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking holiday in Croatia
Read more: Sea kayaking in Croatia guide

2. Ionian Islands, Greece

The gentle sea around Greece’s sheltered Ionian Islands is a great place to learn to kayak, especially in the warm summer months. Accompanied by a coach, you can get to grips with the basics of paddling. Soon you’ll be following the fishing boats around Ithaca, and discovering your own secret coves, too. In the evening, it’s time to make your way to that beachside taverna you’ve been eyeing up, for the catch of the day.

Best time to paddle: March - October
Our top selling trip: Kayaking skills holiday in Greece
Read more: Greek Island travel guide

3. Baja California, Mexico

Ah, beautiful Baja. Mexico is famous for so many reasons, but Baja rather than Tequila is the name on most kayakers’ lips. A peninsula over 1,200km long, kayaking along the Sea of Cortez which separates the peninsula from the mainland, visiting copious islets along the way, is the best way to enjoy this paddling paradise. A wildlife lovers’ wonderland too, with sea lions, pelicans, dolphins and even whales often seen on some of our most spectacular sea kayaking holidays.

Best time to paddle: October – April
Our top selling trip: Mexico sea kayaking holiday
Read more: Baja travel guide

4. Komodo, Indonesia

Immerse yourself in Indonesia, kayaking around the marine magnificence of Komodo National Park, famous for its eponymous dragon. But also a world of mangrove islands, waterfront villages and coastal caves. A great holiday for sea kayaking newbies; just make sure you pack hiking boots and snorkel in the kayak’s hatch, so that you can explore the national park from all angles.

Best time to paddle: April - November
Our top selling trip: Kayaking holiday in Indonesia, Komodo Dragon expedition
Read more: Komodo travel guide

5. Camino de Santiago, Spain

Sea kayaking is often considered a bit of a pilgrimage. Certainly close to a spiritual experience anyway. Kayaking a section of the Camino de Santiago before walking the 25km last leg is one of those trips that helps put things into perspective. From the moment you push out from San Vicente del Grove en route to the clam and cockle farms of Cortegada Island you'll escape into the soothing sounds of lapping waves and seabirds, as you follow a peaceful path to paddling perfection.

Best time to paddle: June - September
Our top selling trip: Kayaking the Camino de Santigo sea route, Spain
Read more: Kayaking the Camino de Santiago travel guide

6. Pembrokeshire, Wales

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park proffers some of the UK’s prettiest paddling spots, for both beginners and experts. With superb facilities and expert kayaking guides you'll be able to discover the coastline’s otherwise inaccessible bays, caves and sea arches. More advanced kayakers can head to Ramsay, Skomer and South Bishop islands, all part of the UK’s only coastal national park.

Best time to paddle: April - September
Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking holiday in Wales
Read more: Wales travel guide

7. Sweden

Sweden is awash with archipelagic wonders. To visit this country and not spend time sea kayaking is like going to the Himalayas and not trekking. Forage and fish from a kayak in the Lulea Archipelago, or do some self guided paddling along the ancient Viking waterway between the seaside towns of Mariefred and Trosa. A kayak should be part and parcel of any trip to Sweden in the summer.

Best time to paddle: May - September
Our top selling trip: Sweden kayaking short break
Read more: Sweden travel guide

8. Patagonia, Chile

Kayak in the fjords that have formed at the end of the Andes, camping on remote beaches on your way, watched over by curious sea lions. Stop for a sunset soak in an improbable hot spring, and even try your hand at night kayaking. Patagonia is renowned as a walking destination, but adding a kayaking trip onto the beginning or end of your time here might be the most memorable part of your holiday.

Best time to paddle: October - March
Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking in Patagonia, Chile
Read more: Patagonia travel guide

9. Scotland

Take advantage of Scottish right to roam, a custom that means that kayakers here can camp right on the beach - any beach - on an expedition. You’ll be spoilt for choice for stopping points along its western coastline, where there are private islands and secluded coves a-plenty. The lochs and sounds are sheltered by Scotland's many islands, meaning that the sea can be as still as a pond - save for the path of your kayak as you scythe through at speed. The Sound of Arisaid, near Fort William, is a lovely place to go.

Best time to paddle: May - September
Our top selling trip: Sound of Arisaid kayaking trip
Read more: Scotland kayaking guide

10. Belize

Not many people realise that Belize has the second largest barrier reef system in the world. Not surprisingly, divers love it. However, if being on the water rather than under it is more your thing, a kayaking holiday in Belize is a stunning way to explore its Caribbean cayes. Sandy beaches, coral reefs, mangrove channels and sea turtles are just some of the Belizean treats en route.

Best time to paddle: January - April
Our top selling trip: Belize sea kayaking holiday
Read more: Belize travel guide
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Aaron Burden] [1. Croatia: Richard Mortel] [4. Komodo, Indonesia: Christopher Harriot] [7. Sweden: Arild Vågen]