Sea kayaking

Kayaking. Photo courtesy Rich McGervey

see nature from the seat of your kayak

Sea kayaking is a year-round activity that can be enjoyed by reasonably fit people of all ages. Along the way you’re likely to see penguins, cormorants, gulls, oystercatchers, and fish swimming under your kayak. Seals are inquisitive and will often gambol around the kayaks, but your chances of coming across a shark are slim. Summer is a more popular time to kayak as it brings warm sun and warmer water, but it also brings the wind, which makes conditions choppy and paddling more of a challenge. Winter is cooler but has many warm, calm days and there’s the added bonus of possibly seeing whales at this time of the year.

who can kayak?

If you’re reasonably fit and could manage a two-hour walk, then you should cope with a kayaking trip. You should preferably weigh less than 110kg and children must be 10 years of age or older. Younger children may accompany their parents, but remember that parents will be doing all the paddling!

The kayaks are two-person boats and, as they are very stable, you’re unlikely to fall out – but if you do, it’s easy to climb back in. The dress code for kayaking is shorts and T-shirt, plus a cap or hat, sunglasses and lots of sunscreen. It’s advisable to take a towel and change of clothes.

Steeped in history and beautifully authentic, the South African naval base of Simon’s Town is blessed with an incredible natural environment. One of the most popular exhibits at the Simon’s Town Museum is the statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a beer-drinking great dane that was adopted by the Royal Navy during World War II.

There’s a lovely kayak route past the civilian and naval harbour and on to the world-famous penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach, where entry costs R30 a head to see the 3 000 endangered African penguins that live there.

If the calm waters of False Bay appeal to you, pay Sea Kayak Tours ( a visit. This operator offers a variety of trips, from the sedate to the adventurous. The most popular is the visit to the penguins at Boulders Beach.

Sea Kayak Tours offers professionally guided sea kayak paddles daily, weather permitting, throughout the year. The kayaks are designed for maximum stability in all conditions and age and inexperience are not a problem. Trips of two to two-and-a-half hours leave every day at 09h30, and afternoon trips are available for groups of four or more.

The more adventurous could take a more challenging paddle to Cape Point, the most southwesterly point of the African continent, and one of the highlights of a trip to South Africa. Dolphins, whales and the rugged African coast are highlights of this trip. The trip starts at 09h00 and lasts for four to six hours, but is not usually available during the December-January holiday season.

Adrenalin junkies should hold out for a windy day when the southeaster blows to create waves of 1m or more, making for an unforgettable kayak trip on the open sea. This trip only caters for groups of four or more and lasts for two to two-and-a-half hours.

Cape Town Tourism has a list of accredited kayak operators. Contact us on +27 (0)21 487 6800 or email to book your kayaking trip at no extra charge. Or check out our list of Cape Town Tourism-registered operators who offer kayaking for more help on selecting an operator yourself.

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