Ocean kayaking off Kona, Hawaii Island. Photo: Sarowen.
Ocean kayaking is a great way to slip away from the crowd and get lost in the rhythm of the paddle, the slush of the surf, and the irresistible tug of nature. Need more incentive? Paddling is a good workout.
Open ocean paddling can be physically challenging even for experienced paddlers, but there are plenty of opportunities in Big Island waters for kayakers with little or no experience. Kayak operators conduct easy to moderate tours through some of the island’s most inviting seascapes in environments well known for abundance of marine life.
The Big Island offers an enticing variety of kayak tours, from the placid to the adventurous. You can make a lazy day of it or a wild adventure, depending on the route you pick. Not only is kayaking a good physical workout, but it’s eco-friendly. Learning to paddle is easy. On guided tours, professional paddlers will get you started. If you rent a kayak and set out on your own, expect to get the hang of it in short order.
Rental kayaks are available at various island locations. There are generally two choices. One is to rent a kayak from a beach concession, the other is to rent a kayak “to go.” At beach concessions, you’ll find one- or two-person boats ranging from the wide, virtually untippable kayaks to sleek fiberglass racing kayaks. Rental operators will help with entry and exit if you need it, and offer recommendations and guidelines for your journey.
Entry into the water isn’t difficult but expect to get wet in the process. Kayaks “to go” usually come equipped with soft racks designed for any vehicle and are able to handle up to three kayaks at a time.
Guided tours range from a lazy paddle along the North Kohala Coast to more adventurous tours along the South Kona coast, where sea caves and secluded beaches prevail. Kealakekua Bay, an underwater park and marine life conservation district and site of the Capt. Cook Monument, is a popular kayak tour destination. There are no rentals at the Bay, but one vendor rents kayaks from a location less than 10 minutes from the water.