There’s nothing quite like the peaceful serenity of gliding through crystal-clear waters surrounded by lush forests, rugged mountains, and breathtaking vistas. Kayaking delivers the perfect way to explore the natural world in a way that’s up close and personal and allows you to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors.
Unlike other activities that may disturb the natural environment, kayaking allows individuals to experience nature without leaving any significant impact on the ecosystem. Kayaking also allows individuals to access remote areas that may be difficult or impossible to reach by other means, offering an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature.
Moreover, the combination of adventure, relaxation, and appreciation of nature has contributed to the growing popularity of kayaking among nature lovers.
In this article, we’ll explore the ten best kayak trips for nature lovers – from Yellowstone River, Montana to the tranquil waters of Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. So, grab your paddle, and explore the natural wonders of the world, one kayak trip at a time.
The 10 Best Kayak Trips For Nature Lovers
Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or just starting out, there are countless opportunities to explore the natural wonders of the world from the seat of a kayak. From the towering glaciers of Patagonia to the serene rivers of Thailand, the world is full of breathtaking destinations that are just waiting to be discovered!
According to a study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, kayaking is one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the United States, with over 13 million people participating in 2019.
The report also highlights that kayak trips are favored by most nature lovers, offering an immersive experience in the great outdoors.
Let’s explore all the 10 best kayaking destinations for nature lovers;
Yellowstone River, Montana
Yellowstone River in Montana is one of the best destinations for kayak trips for nature lovers. The river offers an unforgettable experience that combines stunning scenic beauty with incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.
As the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states, the Yellowstone River offers a variety of kayaking experiences for paddlers of all skill levels.
One of the main draws of kayaking on the Yellowstone River is the chance to witness an incredible array of wildlife in their natural habitat. Paddlers can spot majestic elk, bison, grizzly bears, and wolves along the riverbanks, as well as a variety of bird species, including eagles, ospreys, and herons.
The river itself is also a thing of beauty, with its clear blue waters winding through towering rock formations and breathtaking landscapes.
Other things to do around the Yellowstone River:
|Fishing||The Yellowstone River offers excellent fishing opportunities for trout and other fish species.||Paradise Valley, near Livingston, Montana|
|Hiking||There are several hiking trails along the river, which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains, canyons, and forests.||The Blacktail Deer Creek Trail, near Gardiner, Montana|
|Wildlife viewing||The Yellowstone River and surrounding areas are home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, bison, bears, and wolves.||Lamar Valley, in Yellowstone National Park|
|Visiting hot springs||There are several hot springs in the area, including Chico Hot Springs and Boiling River, which offer a unique and relaxing experience.||Chico Hot Springs, near Pray, Montana|
|Exploring historical sites||The Yellowstone River played an important role in the history of the American West, and there are several historical sites to explore, such as the Pompeys Pillar National Monument.||Pompeys Pillar National Monument, near Billings, Montana|
Noatak River, Alaska
Are you looking for an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors? The Noatak River in Alaska offers one of the best kayak trips for nature lovers looking for an unforgettable experience.
Located in the heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Noatak River is a remote, pristine wilderness unlike anywhere else on earth. The river winds through dramatic landscapes of mountains, tundra, and boreal forest, where wildlife such as grizzly bears, caribou, and bald eagles thrive. It’s a truly unspoiled paradise and an experience that you’ll never forget.
The best way to explore the Noatak River is by kayak. This is an excellent choice for both novice and experienced kayakers alike, as the river is relatively easy to navigate, and the views are simply breathtaking. The river is also home to numerous fishing and camping spots, so you can make a multi-day trip out of it if you’d like.
For those looking for a more challenging experience, the Noatak River is also home to some of the best whitewater rapids in Alaska. The rapids can be intimidating at times, but they’re also incredibly fun and thrilling.
Other things to do besides kayaking on the Noatak River, Alaska include:
|Wildlife viewing||The Noatak River runs through the Noatak National Preserve, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, and moose.||Aerial viewing from the air taxi during drop off or pick up|
|Fishing||The Noatak River offers excellent fishing opportunities for Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, and other fish species.||Near the junction with the Kelly River|
|Hiking||There are several hiking trails along the river, which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.||The Killik River Trail, near the Killik River|
|Photography||The Noatak River and the surrounding landscape offer many opportunities for stunning photography.||The Noatak River delta, near Kotzebue Sound|
|Cultural tours||The Noatak River is home to several Inupiaq communities, and visitors can learn about their culture and traditions through guided tours.||Noatak village, at the confluence of the Noatak and the Hunt River|
|Northern Lights viewing||The Noatak River is located in the Arctic region, which offers the opportunity to view the Northern Lights during the winter months.||The area around Kotzebue Sound|
|Camping||There are several campsites along the river, which offer a unique and remote camping experience.||Kelly River campsite, near the junction with the Kelly River|
|Canoeing||Canoeing is another popular activity on the Noatak River, and it offers a different perspective on the surrounding landscape.||From the confluence of the Noatak and the Hunt River to the Noatak River delta|
Sea of Cortez, Mexico
The Sea of Cortez, Mexico, is one of the best kayaking destinations for nature lovers, offering a combination of rich marine life and scenic landscapes. Located between the states of Baja California and Sonora, the Sea of Cortez boasts an array of unique marine species, from playful sea lions to majestic whales. Nature lovers will be delighted by the view of rugged cliffs, crystal clear waters, and a vast diversity of wildlife, making it the perfect place for canoe and kayak trips.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez is a great way to explore this stunning region. With its crystal clear waters, calm winds, and protected coves, it’s an ideal spot for an enjoyable and safe trip. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, you can find a trip to suit your skill level and desired length. Popular kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez range from day trips to week-long expeditions, with routes to explore the area’s beautiful beaches, bays, and islands.
Other things to do besides kayaking on the Sea of Cortez include:
|Snorkeling and Scuba Diving||The Sea of Cortez is home to a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even whale sharks.||Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, near Los Cabos|
|Whale Watching||The Sea of Cortez is a prime spot for whale watching, especially during the winter months when humpback whales and gray whales migrate to the area.||San Ignacio Lagoon, near Loreto|
|Beachcombing||There are several beautiful beaches along the Sea of Cortez, which offer the opportunity to relax, swim, and beachcomb for seashells and other treasures.||Espiritu Santo Island, near La Paz|
|Island Hopping||There are several islands in the Sea of Cortez, which offer a unique and remote wilderness experience.||Isla San Francisco, near Loreto|
|Fishing||The Sea of Cortez is known for its excellent sportfishing opportunities, including marlin, sailfish, and dorado.||Bahia de los Angeles, near San Felipe|
|Kayak Tours||There are several guided kayak tours available in the Sea of Cortez, which offer a unique and educational perspective on the surrounding environment.||Loreto Bay National Park, near Loreto|
|Bird Watching||The Sea of Cortez is home to a variety of bird species, including pelicans, ospreys, and blue-footed boobies.||Bird Island, near La Paz|
Boundary Waters, Minnesota
Boundary Waters, Minnesota, is a dream destination for kayak trips especially, for nature lovers looking for a serene and secluded wilderness experience. This vast network of interconnected lakes and streams spans over 1 million acres, with more than 1,100 miles of canoe routes and thousands of campsites to explore. The beauty of this destination lies in its pristine natural landscapes, where the only sounds you’ll hear are the lapping of water against your kayak and the calls of wild birds.
The lakes in Boundary Waters, Minnesota, offer some of the best fishing opportunities in the country, with species such as walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass among the most popular catches. It’s important to note that fishing regulations are strictly enforced in this area, with catch limits and other rules in place to preserve the delicate ecological balance of the region.
Other things to do besides kayaking on the Boundary Waters, Minnesota include:
|Fishing||The Boundary Waters is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, with over 1,100 lakes and streams to explore.||Basswood Lake|
|Hiking||There are several hiking trails in the Boundary Waters, which offer a chance to explore the surrounding wilderness and see a variety of wildlife.||Kekekabic Trail|
|Wildlife Viewing||The Boundary Waters is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, wolves, and bald eagles.||Moose Lake|
|Camping||There are over 2,000 campsites in the Boundary Waters, which offer a unique and remote wilderness experience.||Dispersed campsites along the lakes and streams|
|Canoeing and Kayaking||The Boundary Waters is known for its excellent canoeing and kayaking opportunities, with calm lakes and gentle streams to explore.||Clearwater Lake|
|Photography||The Boundary Waters offers stunning landscapes and wildlife, making it a great spot for photography enthusiasts.||Moose River|
|Stargazing||With little light pollution, Boundary Waters offers incredible views of the night sky.||Sawbill Lake|
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Now it’s Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It is one of the best destinations for kayak trips, especially for nature lovers. With its lush forests, rugged coastlines, abundant wildlife, and diverse marine life, Vancouver Island is the perfect place to explore on a kayak.
This island is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. From its lush rainforest and towering mountains to its rugged coastline and pristine beaches, Vancouver Island truly has something for everyone. This makes it an ideal destination for kayaking, as there are many different routes and levels of difficulty available.
Why is Vancouver Island our favorite kayaking destination? Not only is the scenery breathtaking, but the variety of kayaking opportunities it offers is unbeatable. From beginner-friendly calm waters to more challenging rapids, Vancouver Island is sure to give you an unforgettable kayaking experience. Plus, its temperate climate allows for comfortable paddling conditions year-round.
If you are looking for an unforgettable adventure, there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t miss kayaking on Vancouver Island. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced paddler, the variety of experiences the island has to offer will keep you coming back for more. Not only can you witness the beauty of the island’s natural surroundings, but you can also spot some of the local wildlife, including bald eagles, sea otters, and orcas.
Other things to do besides kayaking on Vancouver Island include:
|Whale Watching||Vancouver Island is known for its incredible whale-watching opportunities, with several species of whales and other marine wildlife to observe.||Telegraph Cove|
|Surfing||Vancouver Island is a popular destination for surfing, with several world-class surf breaks to explore.||Tofino|
|Hiking||There are several hiking trails on Vancouver Island, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, offering stunning views of the island’s natural beauty.||Juan de Fuca Trail|
|Wildlife Viewing||In addition to whale watching, Vancouver Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, wolves, and bald eagles.||Clayoquot Sound|
|Beachcombing||With miles of rugged coastline, Vancouver Island offers plenty of opportunities for beachcombing and exploring tide pools.||Botanical Beach|
|Camping||Vancouver Island has numerous campsites available for a unique and remote wilderness experience.||Strathcona Provincial Park|
|Kayak Fishing||Vancouver Island offers excellent fishing opportunities, and kayaking allows for a unique and sustainable fishing experience.||Campbell River|
Milford Sound, New Zealand
From the dramatic fjords and waterfalls to the serene beauty of the surrounding scenery, Milford Sound has something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, it’s the perfect spot to explore and enjoy nature in all its glory.
Milford Sound is located on the western side of New Zealand’s South Island in the Fiordland National Park. It’s home to dramatic fjords and stunning waterfalls, making it a perfect destination for kayaking. There are numerous kayaking routes you can take, ranging from short day trips to multi-day excursions. The views along the way are amazing, and you’ll be surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature in the world.
Perhaps the best thing about kayaking in Milford Sound is that you can explore at your own pace. There are plenty of sheltered bays and inlets that provide a nice break from the wind and swell of the open ocean. Plus, the area is home to a variety of wildlife, including penguins, dolphins, seals, and numerous bird species.
For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, there are plenty of fast-moving rapids and even some sections of whitewater kayaking for the more adventurous. However, even if you decide to stay in the calmer waters, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the snow-capped mountains, virgin rainforest, and towering waterfalls.
Other things to do besides kayaking on the Milford Sound include:
|Scenic Cruises||Milford Sound is known for its stunning scenery, and taking a scenic cruise allows for an up-close view of the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife.||Milford Sound Cruise Terminal|
|Hiking||There are several hiking trails in the area, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls.||Milford Track|
|Wildlife Viewing||Milford Sound is home to a variety of wildlife, including fur seals, dolphins, and penguins.||Seal Rock|
|Photography||Milford Sound offers stunning landscapes and wildlife, making it a great spot for photography enthusiasts.||Mitre Peak|
|Underwater Observatory||Visitors can take a boat tour to visit the underwater observatory, which offers a unique view of the marine life in Milford Sound.||Harrison Cove|
|Kayaking and Paddleboarding||Kayaking and paddleboarding offer a unique and quiet way to explore Milford Sound and the surrounding areas.||Freshwater Basin|
Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
Iguazu Falls, located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, is a must-go destination for nature lovers kayak trips, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. This spectacular waterfall system is surrounded by lush rainforests, providing a stunning backdrop for kayaking adventures.
Iguazu Falls is one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders, located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The spectacular waterfall system consists of over 270 separate cascades, plunging over 80 meters into the river below, surrounded by lush rainforest teeming with wildlife. For nature lovers, kayak trips to Iguazu Falls are an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.
The surrounding rainforest is also an excellent opportunity to observe the flora and fauna of the area. The rainforest around the falls is home to a variety of animals, including jaguars, tapirs, and toucans. While kayaking, you may spot several species of birds and even some monkeys that make the forest their home.
Kayaking at Iguazu Falls allows you to get up close and personal with the falls, feeling the power of the water as it rushes past you and the mist cooling you down on even the hottest of days. You can explore the falls from different angles, which will give you a unique perspective on this incredible landscape. The falls are a perfect blend of the raw beauty of nature and the power of water, providing kayakers with a unique experience that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Other things to do besides kayaking on the Iguazu Falls include:
|Hiking||The Iguazu Falls offer several hiking trails, including the Lower Circuit, Upper Circuit, and Devil’s Throat, which allow visitors to experience the falls up close and enjoy breathtaking views.||Lower Circuit Trail|
|Boat Tours||Visitors can take boat tours to get closer to the falls and feel the spray of the water on their faces.||Macuco Safari Boat Tour|
|Wildlife Viewing||The Iguazu National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including coatis, capuchin monkeys, and toucans.||Parque das Aves|
|Cultural Tours||Visitors can learn about the indigenous Guarani people and their history in the surrounding areas.||Guarani Village Tour|
|Zip-lining||The surrounding areas offer zip-lining activities that allow visitors to enjoy the beautiful scenery from a different perspective.||Ecological Jungle Train and Zip Line|
If you’re a nature lover looking for an unforgettable kayaking experience, Palau and Micronesia should be at the top of your list. With its crystal-clear waters, coral reefs, and abundant marine life, the region offers some of the best kayaking opportunities in the world.
One of the best things about kayaking in Palau and Micronesia is the incredible array of coral reefs and marine life that you’ll encounter. The waters around the islands are teeming with colorful fish and other marine life, making for an unforgettable underwater experience. Palau is especially known for its manta rays and whale sharks, which are a sight to behold. You’re also likely to encounter dolphins, sea turtles, and other wildlife while kayaking in the region.
The area also boasts stunning views above the surface, with lush jungles and rugged volcanic cliffs. You’ll have plenty of time to take it all in while you paddle, as you’re sure to find plenty of peaceful spots to explore.
Other things to do besides kayaking on Palau include:
|Snorkeling||Palau is known for its stunning underwater world, and snorkeling is a popular activity. Visitors can snorkel around the Rock Islands and see colorful fish, coral, and even some World War II wrecks.||Jellyfish Lake|
|Scuba Diving||With some of the world’s most pristine reefs and crystal clear waters, Palau is a mecca for scuba divers. Visitors can explore famous dive sites such as Blue Corner, German Channel, and Ulong Channel.||Blue Corner|
|Kayaking||Kayaking is a great way to explore Palau’s lagoons, mangroves, and hidden beaches. Visitors can paddle through the Rock Islands and enjoy the stunning scenery.||Milky Way Lagoon|
|Cultural Tours||Visitors can learn about Palau’s unique culture and history by visiting traditional villages, meeting the locals, and experiencing traditional dances and ceremonies.||Babeldaob Island|
|Island Hopping||Palau has over 200 islands to explore, and visitors can take a boat tour to see some of the most beautiful and remote islands.||Kayangel Island|
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada
If you love nature, then Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, Canada, should be your next kayaking destination. This archipelago of islands off the coast of northwest Canada is home to some of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see. From its majestic ancient forests to its dramatic ocean views, Haida Gwaii is a paradise for kayak trips for nature lovers looking for adventure.
This group of islands is also home to a rich cultural and natural heritage. The Haida people have inhabited the islands for thousands of years, and their culture is reflected in the many totem poles, longhouses, and other artifacts found throughout the islands. In addition, the islands are home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, black bears, and orcas.
In addition to kayaking, there are many other things to do and see in Haida Gwaii. Tourists can explore the ancient rainforests and spot wildlife, go whale watching, or take a guided tour of the Haida Heritage Centre. For a more laid-back experience, visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the beaches, go fishing, or take a boat tour of the islands.
Kayaking in Haida Gwaii is an opportunity to explore these incredible landscapes and experience the unique cultural history of the Haida people. It’s a chance to connect with nature, experience the thrill of paddling on remote islands and inlets and discover hidden coves and beaches.
Other things to do besides kayaking on the Haida Gwaii include:
|Wildlife Viewing||Haida Gwaii is home to an abundance of wildlife, including bald eagles, bears, whales, and sea lions. Visitors can kayak through the waterways and see these animals in their natural habitats.||Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve|
|Fishing||Haida Gwaii is a world-renowned fishing destination, with plentiful salmon, halibut, and other fish species. Visitors can fish from their kayaks or take a guided fishing tour.||Queen Charlotte Strait|
|Beachcombing||With miles of secluded beaches, Haida Gwaii is a great place to search for shells, driftwood, and other treasures.||Rose Spit|
|Hiking||Visitors can explore Haida Gwaii’s rugged terrain and ancient rainforests by taking a hike through one of the many trails.||Tow Hill|
|Cultural Tours||Haida Gwaii has a rich Indigenous culture, and visitors can learn about the history and traditions of the Haida people by taking a cultural tour.||Old Massett Village|
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is one of the best kayaking destinations for nature lovers. Situated in the central part of Croatia, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of a series of interconnected lakes and waterfalls.
The best thing about kayaking in Plitvice Lakes National Park is the stunning views of the landscape. With its numerous cascades, meandering river, and tranquil lakes, the park provides the perfect setting for a peaceful kayaking experience. There are a variety of routes that take you through different parts of the park, allowing you to explore the area at your own pace.
For those who are looking for a more challenging kayaking experience, there are more difficult routes that take you through the more narrow and winding sections of the park. These routes are more suited to experienced kayakers and require more skill and strength to navigate.
Other things to do besides kayaking in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia include:
|Hiking||Plitvice Lakes National Park offers a network of hiking trails that wind through its lush forests, past waterfalls, and around its many lakes.||Trail C, which offers panoramic views of the park’s upper lakes|
|Photography||With its stunning waterfalls, clear lakes, and colorful foliage, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a photographer’s dream.||Great Waterfall, the park’s highest waterfall|
|Birdwatching||The park is home to many bird species, including woodpeckers, owls, and falcons.||The park’s quieter areas away from the crowds, such as the trails around Kozjak Lake|
|Canoeing||Visitors can rent a canoe and explore the park’s lakes from the water, getting up close to the park’s unique karst landscape.||Kozjak Lake, the largest lake in the park|
|Wildlife Viewing||The park is home to many animal species, including deer, bears, and wolves. Visitors may be able to spot these animals from the park’s trails.||Sastavci Waterfall, which is a popular spot for wildlife sightings|
As we’ve explored the 10 Best Kayak Trips for Nature Lovers, we hope it has inspired you to get outside and explore the natural beauty of the world around us. From the stunning coasts of California to the breathtaking beauty of the Mediterranean, there are so many incredible destinations to explore. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can easily find a destination that speaks to your passion for nature and adventure.
At the same time, it’s important to remember to be mindful of the environment and practice sustainable practices when exploring nature. We all have a responsibility to protect and preserve our natural spaces and to promote equitable access to nature-based recreation. When on the water, we should take the time to appreciate the beauty of the wildlife, respect the wildlife habitat, and take all necessary steps to protect and preserve it.