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While the Charles River may snag the spotlight, there are plenty of waterways, especially those south of Boston, that offer a perfect setting for kayakers to explore the natural beauty of Massachusetts.
For those without a kayak and paddle, rentals and lessons area also available at some great paddling spots around the Commonwealth.
Here are a few places to check out for kayak tours:
Where to Kayak:
Zoar Outdoor, Charlemont
This outdoor adventure company based in western Mass offers kayaking and canoeing instruction, among many other pursuits, from April to October. The clinics are geared for paddlers of all levels and administered by certified instructors. Classes are held along the Mohawk Trail near the Deerfield River.
Zoar Outdoor also provides kayak lessons for families and custom clinics. Here is quick video of a lesson in progress:
Cape Kayaking, Eastham
Cape Cod is an ideal spot for first-time kayakers, featuring calm rivers, bays and estuaries. Cape Kayaking offers guided tours of Pleasant Bay, Monomoy Island, Bells Neck Conservation Area and Nauset Marsh. Some of the tours also give kayakers the opportunity to try clamming and bird watching along the way.
Cape Kayaking typically uses boats between 14-16 feet in length with rudders to assist with steering. Tandem kayaks, for two people, are available, too.
Nauset Marsh, as seen from dry land, by William DeSousa-Mauk
Novice kayakers may want to try Nauset Marsh tours to avoid currents and wind; Nauset also has extremely shallow waters. For those who have paddled before, Pochet Island and Monomoy are the best choices.
Tours typically last about three hours with Cape Kayaking.
Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, Cummaquid
Located on Cape Cod, this sanctuary encompasses a variety of wild habitats, spanning swamps, marshes, ponds and beaches. Great Island Trail in Wellfleet, a 4.5-mile beach system where there are often osprey sightings, is wonderful for walking. Upper Pleasant Bay in Orleans is another fun spot to paddle over eel grass, as well as see crabs and mollusks.
Kayaking trips around this area are available through the Massachusetts Audubon society. For those looking to hit the water on their own, the organization also lists a variety of great paddling locations for all levels.
A well-worn stretch of Great Island Trail in Wellfleet, MA by William DeSousa-Mauk
Advice for beginners
Barbara Banks at Wilderness Travel, an adventure travel company that offers kayaking trips worldwide, says first-time kayakers should join trips with a support boat and avoid full day excursions until ready, especially in faster currents.
Banks also suggests that beginners get expert advice from a retailer that specializes in outdoor sports before purchasing a kayak, “You want to be sure that you can get in and out of the boat comfortably, and that the paddling position is comfortable for their back and legs.”
A little afternoon kayaking along the Westport River
Another tip? Buy paddling gloves, “particularly for people whose hands get cold easily, as your hands do get wet. Special kayaking mitts are available, but regular light insulated gloves work well too, and can help a novice paddler from getting callouses or blisters on their palms.”
Local kayaker Jeremy Miville, who recently wrote about his passion for kayaking, says beginners should take it slow and, “stick to your comfort level. Remember that whatever distance you paddled out to, you’ll need to paddle yourself back in. If you are on the ocean, tides can become a factor. Build your skill set, up your confidence, but never put yourself in danger.”
Julie Loffredi is an award-winning journalist and correspondent. She writes about travel tips for a variety of publications and is a contributor at Rhode Island travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip. You can follow her on Twitter @julieloffredi or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Photo at the top of Fiddler’s Cove by Marjorie Sharpe