Hawaii Ocean Kayak Tours

Have You Ever Tried an Ocean Kayaking Tour?

What could better than slipping soundlessly through clear, sparkling Hawaiian waters, skimming over the open Pacific accompanied by dolphins and sea turtles? Imagine passing close to a humpback whale and her calf as they winter in warm Maui waters. Taking an ocean kayaking tour is the perfect way to experience this wonderful aspect of Hawaiian island life in a way that’s not only completely harmonious with the surroundings, but also gives you an intensely personal connection with the ocean and all its wonders.

Kayaking Basics

Sea kayaking trips range from a few hours to a many weeks. Developed for the active sport of paddling on lakes, bays and the open ocean, most ocean kayaks are made for one or two paddlers. Size and configuration of the kayak are determined by the type of trip you want to make; for example, specialized kayaks such as surf skis are narrower than the typical open-water ocean kayak. Some may have upturned bows, providing better performance into ocean waves and better wave-shedding properties. The length of the ocean kayak affects both its cargo capacity and the ease of staying in a straight line in the water–its “tracking” ability. Very long ocean kayaks are easier to paddle straight, but are harder to turn and maneuver, so they are used mainly for long, open-water trips. The width of the ocean kayak also affects the cargo capacity, the size of the cockpit and overall stability.

Recreational Sea Kayaks

Most recreational sea kayaks are molded in one piece with a “cockpit” to sit in, “foot wells” to brace the feet in a comfortable position with the knees slightly bent and a backrest to provide support and comfort. Hooks along the side and top secure accessories and gear for snorkeling. Some fishing kayaks have rod rests for open-ocean fishing. The one-piece construction eliminates any need of bailing or clearing out water from the hull in rough water or after an overturn. Modern molded sea kayaks are light and easy to transport, as well as easy to use.

Ocean kayak paddles for recreational use are usually made of aluminum, plastic or wood, with high-performance paddles formed of lightweight materials like carbon-fiber. Ocean kayak paddles are made of two spoon-shaped blades on the ends of a shaft, usually “feathered” or set at right angles to each other. As one blade pushes through the water, the other passes through the air at a right angle, reducing wind resistance.

The paddles are attached to the kayak with a tether, so you can’t accidentally lose it–no chance of being up the proverbial “creek without a paddle.” A few practice strokes in calm water will give even the rank beginner at sea kayaking a feel for how easy it is to move, turn and control the kayak. If you are a beginner, stick with short sea kayak trips for starters. Sea kayaking tour guides and rental businesses will be happy to show you just what to do. And remember, you can do this!

Ocean Kayaking Techniques

If the kayak overturns or if you have been enjoying open-water snorkeling in one of Maui’s secluded bays, you can get back into the kayak by following a few basic steps.

o If the kayak is upside down, reach across the bottom of the boat and grab the scupper holes or accessory hooks. Bring your knees up and onto the bottom of the boat. Lean back and the boat will roll over. Lighter kayaks can be flipped over easily.

o Position yourself near the cockpit area facing the kayak. Let your feet float to the surface behind you by floating on your stomach.

o Reach across the boat to the far edge and swim up and on the kayak so your bellybutton is across the centerline of the boat.

o Roll over on your backside, swing your feet into the foot wells, and you’re up and ready to go. If you miss the first time, just line up in the middle of the kayak again until you make it. Easy does it, and you’re ready to paddle again.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget the basic safety rules to prepare for that long-awaited kayaking trip onto Hawaiian waters. A little preparation can mean the difference between having a once-in-a-lifetime dream trip on Hawaii seas or a disappointing experience.

Follow These Simple Kayaking Tips:

o Always wear a life jacket. Coast Guard regulations require a lifejacket on all kayaks. Wearing the lifejacket will keep your head above water in case of an upset and add insulation to your body.

o If you are a beginner, seek qualified instruction to learn paddling and water safety techniques unique to ocean kayaking.

o Be aware of weather conditions and ocean water temperatures present in the area of Hawaii you plan to kayak. A wet suit or dry suit will keep you comfortable in cold waters, and a simple, long-sleeved shirt can provide protection from intense sun in warm conditions.

o If you are striking out on your own, tell someone your paddle plan, including: where you are going, what you will be doing, how long you expect to be gone and how many people are in your party. Then, do not vary from that plan.

o If you are taking an ocean kayaking tour in a new area on your own, check with the locals regarding currents, shoreline conditions and usual weather patterns. Have an escape route and an alternative place to get off the water if environmental conditions make it necessary. And remember to let someone know your alternative plan as well as well as the original one.

o Always have water and some food with you.

o Be aware of offshore winds that may make it difficult to return to shore.

Hawaii Ocean Kayak Tours

Fortunately for the casual ocean kayaking enthusiast and occasional visitor to Hawaii, ocean kayak tour operators can and will provide just the right kayak for whatever kind of kayaking tour you have in mind, along with life jackets, snorkel gear, reef shoes and fins. Kayaking tours provide instruction in basic ocean kayaking, lead groups to the best local spots for snorkeling, ocean fishing, wildlife observation and out-of-the-way Hawaiian beaches and coves. Local kayaking tour guides have a huge store of information to share about local Hawaiian landmarks, native traditions relative to the area, and all wildlife unique to Hawaii. Get out there on the water. Ocean kayaking tours are fun! Hanalei river kayaking on Kauai is also a blast.

Finding the Right Sports Gear for Kayak Tours

Finding the right kayak sports gear can spell the difference between a comfortable and memorable adventure and one that you would rather forget. More importantly, the right sports gear for kayak tours will keep you safe from injuries and other dangers. When looking for the right kayak sports gear, check out the list below.

Kayaking gloves

For comfortable kayaking and less risk for blisters and cuts, a good pair of kayaking gloves will protect your hands. More comfort means more time to enjoy paddling in the water.

Paddle jacket

A paddle jacket may be useful if you are planning on long kayaking trips, although they tend to keep you very warm and may not be needed during sunny and calm days where you plan to do short kayak trips.

Inflatable pump

For those who are renting inflatable kayaks, most kayak tours offer inflatable kayak pumps for easy inflation of the kayak. In most cases, personnel are required to inflate the kayaks for you.

Spray skirt

A spray skirt is attached on the cockpit of the kayak to keep the paddler dry. Most kayaks offered by kayak tours come with spray skirts and you can request for your kayak to be fitted with one.

Crash helmet

This is needed when doing whitewater kayaking and it’s included in most kayak rentals.

Dry bag

The possibility of capsizing is small but you want to be prepared for this. Protect your valuables and other items that will get damaged in the water such as food, clothing, and cameras with a good dry bag. It stays afloat and keeps the contents dry even if your kayak overturns.

Water shoes

A good pair of water shoes will help keep your feet comfortable when getting in and out of the water. Just make sure that the shoes are not too clunky and that they fit into the kayak as you go in or out.


A knife may not be something that you will need to use but it may come in handy when you are stuck in some branches or if there are branches under your kayak.


There are two types of kayaking paddles: touring and whitewater rafting paddles. Touring paddles are made of two pieces made of adjustable ferrule positions made for obstructed or unobstructed paddling. One can also choose the length, the blade shape, and the material of the paddle. A whitewater kayak paddle has a rigid shaft and a wide blade.

Personal floatation devices

For kayaking, the required personal floatation device must be classed as type II or V. Most kayak tours are required to offer personal floatation devices for the safety of the user, as well as provide instructions on how to use these devices.

Going on kayak tours

When choosing kayaking tour, go for those that offer complete safety and sports equipment. Most kayak tours offer basic equipment such as life jackets and helmets, and more specialized safety sports equipment according to the level of adventure you’ll be having. Most kayak tours in California also assign guides per group.

Preparing For an Enjoyable Kayak Camping Trip

If you are preparing for your first kayak camping trip, then you should get to know the essentials before you go on your trip. Camping out with your kayak is ideally a solitary journey with minimalistic gear for purposes of convenience as well as for making the whole experience more worthwhile and authentic. You will want to pack only the very basics, but still allow for enough stuff to make your first kayak camping trip a fruitful as well as enjoyable one.

First of all, if you really plan to go on a trip by yourself, then you should get the basics down. You should know how to start a fire, build your own shelter and most importantly, how to swim whether it’s in freshwater, brackish water or seawater. Learn the basics of survival swimming such as how to tread water, how to float on your back and how to do the sidestroke. If you cannot do this much, then it might be a good idea to learn how before you start planning for your kayaking trip. A life jacket won’t do you any good if it somehow fails and you wind up with only yourself and your kayak when disaster strikes.

In any case, these safety concerns should not put you off on kayak camping since it can be one of the best ways to commune with nature and be at peace with yourself in the hustle and bustle of modern living. Nothing beats the sense of tranquility and calm that you can experience via a kayak camping trip.

As for what to pack for your camping trip, you should pack by order of importance. Your primary concerns would be food and water. Decide on whether you want to go with canned goods or dried food or a combination of both. If you are planning on kayaking on a river on in areas where fresh water is abundant, make sure you pack some things to help you disinfect or purify the water that you will be drinking. Remember that if anything goes wrong in the middle of your trip, you might need to survive on your own for a few days before help arrives – assuming that you can even signal or call for help. Dried foods are often well-recommended since they take up very little space. If you want to mix it up a bit, you can bring some luxury canned items along. Just make sure that you are actually prepared to eat all of the different types of food that you bring because every little bit of space that you can save while packing actually counts given the limited amount of space you will have for kayak camping.

Next on the list of necessities is some paddle clothing. Bring along more stuff than you think you might need. It is especially important for you to secure your paddle so that you will be able to safely recover it even if it somehow gets wrested away from your hands while on your kayak trip. In fact, experienced kayakers often recommend that you bring one extra paddle along. Wetsuit, gloves, a hat, sunglasses and a spare swimsuit are all necessities when it comes to packing for kayak camping.