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3 Sea Kayaking Destinations That Should Be On Your Radar

Author: Helen Wilson

November 18, 2016

The world is a big place, and with so many bodies of water, it can be difficult to decide where to paddle. What kind of mood are you in? What kind of challenges are you up for? Every place that I've traveled to holds a unique charm, and my favorite paddling location is often simply the place I'm in the mood for at the time. This could be somewhere warm and tropical, or somewhere cold and icy. It might be an exciting rock garden, or a calm, quiet lake.

I’ve paddled so many amazing places, but there are certainly places that fall into my "mood" quite frequently. Here are three—quite different—to check out when you’re planning your next paddling trip.

Greenland is, simply put, magical. The majestic glacier ice, sea ice and clear Arctic water all contribute to a sense of calm and serenity. With blue skies above you, crystal clear water below you and steep mountains surrounding you, you'll become part of a perfect picture. It is often silent, except for the occasional splash of a fish, seal or whale, and if you listen carefully you can hear the icebergs squeak, crack and drip water into the otherwise calm sea.

When paddling in Greenland, it can often be days before you'll see another person. Occasionally you’ll come to one of the small fishing villages dotted along its coastline, and it's always wonderful to stop and absorb a little of the Greenlandic culture. Men are often returning from a day fishing at sea, and women can be seen squatted down at the water's edge, skinning a seal with an ulu (a traditional Inuit knife). You might see children playing ball in the village, or dogs napping on a warm rock. You'll get curious smiles, and despite a language barrier, the Greenlanders are always eager to show visitors what they have in their pockets, their bags or even their houses.

Trinidad, California
Another place to add to your paddling bucket list is Trinidad, California. This was my home for 14 years, and it's where I learnt to paddle—it’s the water that I know the best. One thing that makes Trinidad unique is its two launch sites. Trinidad Head is a semi-round headland that juts out into the ocean. There is a shared parking lot conveniently located between its two launch sites, which means that you don’t have to launch and land from the same place. Some may chose to challenge themselves by launching into a tricky surf zone. Others may choose the calm harbor that’s usually protected by the headland itself. No matter where one chooses to launch, it's a relatively short (one mile) paddle to the back of Trinidad Head, where paddlers from both launch sites can meet up and play at a favorite spot amongst the locals, affectionately called "Smack Wall." Trinidad provides multi-level rock gardening opportunities, a couple of caves—which can be tricky to access, depending on ocean conditions—and numerous pocket beaches lined by the coastal redwood forest.

Sdot Yam, Israel
If you prefer a warm climate, then you should consider Israel. The area in Israel I’m familiar with is Sdot Yam, on the Mediterranean Sea. This expansive beach area has soft, clean sand and warm, clear water perfect for both kayaking and swimming. Mornings in Israel are typically (although not always) calm and clear. Very small swells make launching easy. The wind tends to pick up in the early afternoon, which can create more challenging and playful conditions.

There’s a shallow reef where open-water surfing is popular amongst the locals and miles of incredible coastline for paddling stretch past Caesarea, a spectacular ancient city. While on land, make sure to talk to the locals. There is so much to learn about this incredibly diverse, and wonderful country. And don’t forget to enjoy some tasty Israeli food, which is quite possibly my favorite type of cuisine on the planet.

Helen Wilson

Helen Wilson is a sea kayaker out of Arcata, California. She enjoys open ocean paddling in her skin-on-frame qajaq and can be found playing off the northern California coastline and in the lagoons several times a week. She’s never far from water and enjoys being underwater as much as being on the surface. She specializes in traditional paddling skills using traditional equipment. She competed in the Greenland National Kayaking Championship in 2008 (Qaqortoq, Greenland) and again in 2010 (Nuuk, Greenland), receiving five medals in four disciplines. In July 2014, Helen and her husband, Mark Tozer, will be returning to south Greenland to host their second commercial expedition.

Helen performs rolling demonstrations, presentations and instructs at events worldwide. She has written skills articles for several publications including Sea Kayaker magazine, The Masik and Ocean Paddler magazine. In May 1010, she released an instructional DVD, Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson. In September 2013, Helen and Mark released a second DVD, Yoga for Outdoor People. Both DVDs are available worldwide. She also serves as a board advisor for Qajaq USA.

Besides from being a kayaker, Helen’s other passion is yoga. She is a registered yoga teacher (RYT), and Greenland or Bust often includes Yoga for Padders as part of their programs.Contact Helen at [email protected]