Cruise Tips: How to Plan and Pack for a Sea Kayaking Excursion

If you’re looking for a cruise vacation with a side of adventure, you should consider joining a sea kayaking excursion. Sea kayaking is a great way to get out on the open water and explore the surrounding area. All you need is the proper gear and a guide who can lead the way.

With their expertise, there’s no telling what wildlife or scenery you might come across along your sea kayaking adventure. From breathtaking views to fascinating encounters with local wildlife, joining a sea kayaking excursion just may be the highlight of your cruise vacation.

Sea Kayaking on Your Cruise Vacation

One of the great appeals of sea kayaking is that it allows you to visit remote and inaccessible locations that are not accessible by larger vessels. Whether you’re paddling along a rugged coastline, exploring hidden coves and inlets, or crossing the open ocean, kayaking offers a unique and immersive perspective on the world. It’s a great way to get up close to nature and discover hidden gems and secrets that are hidden from view.

Combining a cruise vacation with sea kayaking is a match made in heaven for adventurers and nature lovers. Cruising allows you to visit a variety of destinations and provides all the amenities and comforts of home. At the same time, kayaking will enable you to experience these destinations in a more intimate and immersive way.

Many cruise lines offer sea kayaking excursions as part of their shore activities, allowing you to paddle through beautiful, exotic locations that are only accessible by boat. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a complete novice, kayaking is a fun and rewarding activity suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Popular Sea Kayaking Destinations on Cruise Itineraries

Cruising and kayaking make a great combination, and there are many popular kayaking destinations to choose from on cruise itineraries. Some of the top regions for kayaking cruises include:

Caribbean and Central America

The Caribbean and Central America offer a wide range of kayaking opportunities, crystal clear waters, beautiful beaches, and diverse marine life. Some popular kayaking destinations in this region include the Virgin Islands, Belize, and Costa Rica.


Alaska is a kayaker’s paradise, with stunning fjords, glaciers, and wildlife. Kayaking in Alaska offers a unique and immersive way to explore this beautiful region.


The Mediterranean is known for its crystal-clear waters, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural history. Kayaking in the Mediterranean allows you to explore this region’s coastlines and hidden coves and experience the local culture and way of life.

Other Regions

Many other regions around the world offer great kayaking opportunities, including New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Northwest.

No matter where you choose to kayak, cruising and kayaking are a perfect match, offering the opportunity to combine a relaxing and luxurious cruise vacation with the thrill and adventure of kayaking in some of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring destinations.

Sea Kayaking vs Recreational Kayaking

Sea kayaking and regular river/lake kayaking are different in terms of the type of water and the equipment used. Sea kayaking is done on the open ocean or large coastal bodies of water, which can have choppy waves and strong currents. Sea kayaks are longer, more stable, and have a flatter bottom to handle these conditions. Sea kayakers also typically wear dry suits or wetsuits and carry more safety and survival equipment.

Regular river and lake kayaking, on the other hand, is done on calm, inland bodies of water. River and lake kayaks are generally shorter, more maneuverable, and have a more rounded bottom, making them better suited for navigating calm, slow-moving water.

Planning Your Sea Kayaking Excursions

When combining a cruise vacation with kayaking, the first step is choosing the right cruise line and itinerary. There are cruise line options to consider, from traditional cruise ships to smaller, more intimate vessels that offer a more authentic and adventurous experience. Look for a cruise line that provides kayaking excursions or rentals as part of their shore activities or one that visits destinations known for their kayaking opportunities.

Choosing A Cruise Line and Itinerary

Choosing a cruise line and itinerary that meets your needs and interests is crucial to having a successful and enjoyable kayaking cruise. Consider factors such as the type of kayaking you want (ocean, river, lake, etc.), the destinations you want to visit, the level of difficulty and intensity you’re comfortable with, and any other preferences or requirements you may have.

Booking Sea Kayaking Excursions and Rentals

Once you have booked your kayaking excursions and rentals, the next step is to book your kayaking excursions and rentals. Many cruise lines offer a range of kayaking options, from guided tours to independent rentals, and it’s essential to choose the option that best meets your needs and interests. Guided tours can be a great way to learn more about the local culture, history, and environment, while independent rentals allow you more freedom and flexibility to explore independently.

When booking your kayaking excursions and rentals, you can choose between solo kayaks and tandem kayaks, also known as two-person kayaks. Tandem kayaks are an excellent choice for couples or friends who want to share the kayaking experience. They offer a more social and interactive experience and can be fun.

However, they require more coordination and teamwork, so they may not be suitable for everyone. Solo kayaks offer a more independent and solitary experience and can be a good choice for those who prefer to paddle alone. When choosing between solo and tandem kayaks, consider your preferences and the needs of your group.

Packing Tips for Your Sea Kayaking Excursions

Packing for a kayaking cruise can be slightly different from a traditional cruise vacation. In addition to the usual clothing and personal items, you’ll need to bring specific gear and equipment for your kayaking activities. Here are some packing tips to consider:

Pack lightweight and quick-drying clothing. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in and around the water, it’s important to pack clothing that will stay comfortable and dry quickly. Look for lightweight and moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you cool and comfortable.

Bring appropriate footwear. Depending on the type of kayaking you’ll be doing, you may need specific types of footwear. For ocean kayaking, you’ll want to bring sturdy and water-resistant shoes or sandals that provide good support and protection. For river or lake kayaking, you may prefer neoprene booties or water shoes designed for wet and slippery conditions.

Remember the sunscreen. Protecting your skin from the sun is important when you spend a lot of time on the water. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and apply it frequently throughout the day to prevent sunburn.

Bring a hat and sunglasses. A hat and sunglasses protect your face and eyes from the sun. Look for a hat with a wide brim or neck protection, and choose sunglasses with UV protection to keep your eyes safe.

Pack a dry bag. A dry bag is a waterproof bag designed to keep your gear and belongings dry and protected. It’s a good idea to bring one on your kayaking cruise to keep your valuables safe in case of wet conditions.

Consider a waterproof camera. If you want to capture your kayaking adventures, consider bringing a waterproof camera or GoPro. These devices are designed to withstand the elements and can be a great way to capture photos and videos of your experiences on the water. Just be sure to follow any safety guidelines and use caution when handling your camera while kayaking.

Safety Considerations for Sea Kayakers

Sea kayaking is an exciting and rewarding activity, but taking safety seriously is essential. When kayaking in open water, you’ll be exposed to a range of potential hazards, from rough waves and currents to changing weather conditions and wildlife encounters. To ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience, it’s essential to be prepared and to follow good safety practices.

Essential Sea Kayaking Safety Equipment

To stay safe on the water, it’s crucial to have the proper safety equipment. This can include:

Personal flotation device (PFD). A PFD is a must-have for any kayaker. It’s a wearable device that provides flotation and support in the water and is designed to keep you afloat if you capsize or fall overboard. Make sure to wear your PFD when kayaking, and choose one that fits properly and is appropriate for your size and activity level.

First aid kit. Accidents and injuries can happen, so bringing a basic first aid kit on your kayaking trip is a good idea. Your kit should include bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and other essential supplies.

Whistle and signaling device. A whistle and signaling device can attract attention and signal for help in an emergency. Make sure to bring a loud whistle and a signaling device on your kayaking trip, such as a flare or mirror. These items can be essential for getting help in an emergency and can be a lifesaving tool. Make sure to familiarize yourself with how to use them properly and keep them easily accessible while kayaking.

Basic Sea Kayaking Safety Rules

Basic kayaking safety rules are essential for ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. Some fundamental rules to follow include:

Wear a PFD. A personal flotation device is essential for any kayaker. Make sure to wear your PFD when kayaking, and choose one that fits properly and is appropriate for your size and activity level.

Follow the rules of the water. Make sure to follow all local laws and regulations when kayaking, including any rules regarding speed, alcohol consumption, and the use of personal watercraft.

Stay within your limits. Don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities when kayaking. Know your limits and be prepared to turn back if conditions become too challenging.

Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to your surroundings when kayaking, and be mindful of any hazards such as rocks, currents, and other boats.

Communicate with your group. If you’re kayaking with a group, communicate with each other and stay together. This will help ensure that everyone stays safe and can help each other in an emergency.

Handling Emergencies on the Water

Despite your best efforts, accidents and emergencies can still happen when kayaking. If you find yourself in an emergency on the water, here are some steps to take:

Stay calm. It’s important to stay calm and focused in an emergency. This will help you think clearly and make good decisions.

Signal for help. If you need assistance, use a whistle or signaling device to attract attention. If you’re with a group, make sure to stay together and signal for help as a group.

Get to safety. If you’re in a capsized kayak or on the water, try to get to the nearest safe place as soon as possible. This could be a nearby shore, an island, or a boat.

Seek medical attention. If you or someone in your group is injured, get medical attention as soon as possible. Be sure to bring a first aid kit and any other necessary supplies on your kayaking trip.

Sea Kayaking Techniques and Tips

Sea kayaking is a fun and rewarding activity that requires a combination of physical fitness, coordination, and technical skill. To get the most out of your kayaking experience, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of basic techniques and tips.

Basic Strokes and Maneuvers

Basic strokes and maneuvers such as the forward stroke, backstroke, and draw stroke are essential for moving and steering your kayak. Practice these strokes to improve your control and efficiency on the water.

Navigating Currents and Tides

Currents and tides can have a significant impact on your kayaking experience. To navigate these forces, you’ll need to understand how they work and how to use them to your advantage.

Paddle Strokes for Different Conditions

Different paddle strokes are more suitable for other conditions. For example, a low-angle stroke is best for calm water, while a high-angle stroke is ideal for choppy or rough conditions.

By mastering these techniques and tips, you can significantly improve your kayaking skills and have a more enjoyable and safe experience on the water. So, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these techniques and to practice them regularly to improve your skills and confidence.

Enhancing Your Sea Kayaking Experience

There are many ways to enhance your kayaking experience and make the most of your time on the water. Some key considerations include the following:

Choosing the Right Kayak and Gear

Having the right kayak and gear can make a big difference in your enjoyment and safety on the water. Consider factors such as the type of kayaking you’ll be doing, your skill level, and your personal preferences when choosing your kayak and gear.

Training and Improving Your Skills

Training and improving your skills are essential to enhance your kayaking experience. Many resources, including instructional videos, books, and kayaking clinics, can help you learn new techniques and improve your skills.

Environmental Considerations

As a kayaker, you have the unique opportunity to explore and experience the natural world in an intimate and personal way. Respecting the environment and being a responsible steward of the places you visit are essential. This can include following Leave No Trace principles, protecting wildlife and habitats, and minimizing your impact on the environment.

Final Thoughts on Cruise Sea Kayaking Excursions

In conclusion, cruising and kayaking are a match made in heaven. Sea kayaking on a cruise vacation offers a unique and exciting way to explore the world and experience the beauty of the outdoors. With the proper planning and preparation, you can enjoy all the benefits of kayaking, including physical activity, adventure, and connection with nature, while enjoying the convenience and luxury of a cruise vacation.

Whether an experienced kayaker or a beginner, there are many opportunities to try sea kayaking on a cruise vacation. With a wide range of destinations, itineraries, and activities to choose from, there’s something for everyone. So why not give it a try and see the magic of cruising and sea kayaking? You won’t be disappointed.

Featured Image Credit: [@bornin54/Deposit Photos]


Cruise Tips: How to Plan and Pack for a Sea Kayaking Excursion
Alex Buchnev

Alex Buchnev is an avid outdoors enthusiast and the founder of He is passionate about kayaking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. When he's not exploring the wilderness, Alex can be found spending time with his two daughters or working on his website.