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This is a sport that I've become acquainted with since moving to the Northwest. I've done a moderate amount of sea kayaking: Lake Washington, Lake Union, the San Juan Islands, various other places around Puget Sound, the Na Pali Coast on Kauaii in Hawaii, and a small amount of whitewater kayaking: easy stretches on the Snoqualmie River and somewhat harder stretches on the Skykomish River. Pretty much anyone can sea kayak. It just takes the ability to sit and paddle without tipping. Or, if you have a willing partner and a double kayak, it just takes the ability to sit calmly. Whitewater kayaking takes more skill and some courage.

I really must confess to still being a beginner but it been fun and rewarding. Kayaks give you a perspective that's hard to attain in other ways. It's like sitting on the water itself. In the case of sea kayaking, it's much easier to view wildlife from a kayak than from say a noisy powerboat. I've been 15 yards from bald eagles and had seals, huge turtles, and porpoises swim directly under or a few feet from my boat.

Here are a few pictures from kayaking the Na Pali Coast on Kauai in Hawaii. See my Hawaii pages for more information.

Kayaking the Na Pali Coast
Riding the current and enjoying the view An unothordox paddling position
Inside a sea cave Chasing our guide
Time for a break Headed for an arch
Journey's end

Whitewater kayaking also affords a unique perspective. Obstacles and waves look much larger when you're sitting eye-to-eye with them and sometimes you'll even get an underwater perspective. Whitewater suits adrenaline addicts well. It is thrilling but also dangerous.

If you're a student at the University of Washington, the University Kayak Club is a great way to get started. It's extremely affordable and they provide everything you need except clothes and food. They also take very frequent trips for both types of kayaking.

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Mark A. Martin <mark@mark-a-martin.us>

Last modified: Tue Jul 25 17:13:27 CDT 2000