So, why Wales?
Wales is a great place to start to practise paddling – Pembrokeshire, especially. Seals, sand and sea stacks, even sunshine – sometimes, all make sea kayaking along the Welsh coast wonderfully wild.
Isolation, in a good way, can be found literally a few seconds from the shore, with all manner of mysterious caves and sheer cliff faces sparking the imagination, as seabirds take flight. Porpoises, grey seals and even dolphins – summers can see pods of 500-plus – may also pop up at some point, as may the occasional surfer, coasteering crew or precariously placed fisherman. A wave or a nod will suffice. Your guide will probably know them anyway. It’s a pretty tight knit community in these parts.
Sophie Hurst, from our Wales sea kayaking experts Preseli Venture, has been involved with the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter group
for a long time. They meet up a couple of times a year to discuss issues such as sustainable tourism and land accessibility. She knows the value of community: “Here in Pembrokeshire, we’re very much part of the local outdoor activity community. Most of the instructors and guides know each other, and share information and offer help, if needed. We’re all part of the same clan, we want to protect the coast and make sure no one damages the natural environment. The thing with tourism is that sometimes it can ruin the very thing that attracted it in the first place. That’s why organisations like the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter group are in place.”
Instructors will also know the secret, barely accessible, spots; where the waterfalls tumble into the sea and where the naturally eroded rock arches create the best frames at sunset. Sea kayaking guides will help you get lots of practise, especially beginners. You'll learn gradually, at your own pace. Families, too, can join in – with double kayaks for extra security. Parents can sit at the back as eager kids paddle, paddle, paddle, pause. “Can you paddle for a bit, Mum?”