From beginners to well-seasoned experts, Wales is perfect for canoe and kayaking holidays. With mountain lakes, shady canals and wild coastline there's plenty to choose from. If you're looking for socially distanced activities, getting outdoors on the water is ideal. Just enjoy the ride.
What to bring for a kayak boating trip
All our kayak and canoe operators are safety vetted and they provide the essentials for your time on the water - so you don't need to worry about lifevests and paddles. Obviously you should wear clothes and footwear that you don't mind getting wet!
Take a look at the weather before you set out. If it's looking cool and potentially windy, pack a windproof top layer and maybe even some gloves. If it's sunny, bring a hat and sunglasses. Even on dull days, it's a good idea to have sunscreen with you as it's surprisingly easy to get burnt on the water.
A water bottle with something to drink in it and a few snacks are always useful. And if you're planning to snap some shots with your phone on your canoe trip, invest in a waterproof holder for it that you can hang round your neck.
When to go
Most people tend to go on a kayaking trip in Wales in the warmer months of summer, late spring and early autumn, but if you have the right gear on, it's quite possible to paddle year-round, especially if you have a guide with you.
Kayaking and canoe trip locations
Here in Wales we've got plenty of great locations for canoe and kayak boating trips. More adventurous paddlers will love the thrill of sea kayaking and the excitement of spotting rare wildlife. Families will have great fun on the tranquil waters of our inland lakes, whilst our rivers offer something for all levels - from rushing rapids to lazy days floating with the current.
Sea canoeing and kayaking
Sea kayaking can be an adrenaline-fuelled experience of amazing tidal rapids, deep surf and booming swells. If you prefer to chill out at a slower pace, you can enjoy a relaxing paddle along the coast taking in the wildlife-rich scenery. Either way, it’s not to be missed!
Pembrokeshire, West Wales
An intricate coastline, rare wildlife and tidal flows - go for a kayak in Pembrokeshire and you'll certainly have fun. You might even see seal pups towards the end of August. For the more experienced kayaker, favourites include Abereiddy to Abercastle and exploring the sea around Ramsey Island. St Govan's Head is also a challenging, but beautiful, spot to paddle.
Intermediate and confident beginner paddlers can take longer, quieter journeys exploring the tiny bays and pools along the stunning coastline with only seals and the odd dolphin for company. For a sheltered paddle, give Porthclais to Newgale a go.
If you're paddling on the sea we'd recommend going with an experienced guide, particularly if you go any distance from the shoreline. You're also likely to see far more wildlife this way.
Ceredigion, Mid Wales
The sheltered waters of the Teifi estuary at Cardigan are ideal for a gentle excursion by canoe or kayak and there are places to hire them in the town. Cardigan Bay north of Cardigan is a little wilder and you’re best off going with a guide. A nice route takes you from Llangrannog beach north to Cwm Tydu. You can stop off in hidden coves along the way for a swim, spot seabirds diving from the cliffs and have a bite at one of the beach cafés at Cwmtydu.
There are few things more relaxing than a gentle canoe on a glassy lake. With no currents to worry about, you can take your time to sit and stare – drinking in the atmosphere and taking a moment of calm.
Snowdonia, North Wales
You're spoilt for choice with lakes in Snowdonia. On Llyn Padarn, near Llanberis, you can paddle beneath steep cliffs of old slate mines with the pretty little steam trains of the Llanberis Lake Railway puffing along beside you. The scenery at Llyn Gwynant, looking up at Snowdon, is spectacular and the lake has a truly magical charm to it. And Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) is one of Wales’ largest natural lakes, popular with windsurfers and paddle boarders too. All three locations offer kayak boat hire and instructors too.
Brecon Beacons, Mid Wales
Try out Llangorse Lake - legend has it a drowned city lies beneath this Brecon Beacons lake. Not that you will need to look out for that, as scenery above water is so gorgeous! Keep an eye out for all sorts of interesting bird life as you paddle. You can hire stand up paddleboards, kayaks, Canadian canoes and pedaloes from Llangorse Lake Boat Hire.
Along with all sorts of interesting bird and wildlife, a paddle along one of our canals reveals fascinating insights into the engineering brilliance of the Victorian era.
Llangollen canal, North Wales
Close to the pretty town of Llangollen you can explore some of Britain's most spectacular industrial heritage as you paddle a Canadian open canoe. You take a full day to paddle around eight miles through green rural countryside, drifting past floating plants, diving beetles and kingfishers. As part of the ride, you get to paddle right across mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of Wales' UNESCO World Heritage Sites, high above the ground (don't look down!) and through two spooky brick-lined tunnels.
Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
The shady Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal runs from Brecon into the lovely Usk Valley. There's over 30 miles to explore and most of it is lock-free. Expect beautiful scenery in the National Park, ice creams in pretty villages and lots of friendly ducks. There are several places along the canal to hire kayaks and canoes including Brecon, Llangattock and Goytre Wharf.
To see some of Wales’ most spectacular scenery from a different perspective, look to our winding rivers. You can enjoy a day out on the water and discover meadows and woods that no footpath would reveal. Of course, there’s always a good riverside pub to stop off if you need vital refreshment.
River Wye, South Wales
Britain’s favourite river reveals its best side by canoe. Head for the River Wye and hire at Glasbury. Then drift downstream past waterbirds and over gentle rapids for lunch and book-browsing in Hay-on-Wye. Or why not go overnight? Some operators provide multi-day adventures, to stretches of the river not normally seen by other paddlers. You might cross the border into England and reach Symond's Yat and even paddle past the mysterious remains of Tintern Abbey. On full days afloat, dawns burn brighter, evenings are stiller. And cups of tea are tastier.
River Teifi, Mid Wales
For a magical family paddle, get out onto the River Teifi. Start in the deeply wooded valley and look out for otters, herons, buzzards and kites, then slowly winkle your way down until you pop out into the sea near Cardigan. En route you'll glide past Cilgerran Castle, through a gorge and then into wetlands where water buffalo graze. There's a handy pub at St Dogmaels, perfect for a lunch or coffee stop. The trick is to start just before high tide, then you hardly need to paddle.
Read more: Wonderful Welsh rivers and waterways.
Exploring the outdoors is fantastic fun and provides great opportunities for adventurous activities, but please read up on the risks and make sure you are prepared.
- Carry a means of calling for help on you,
- Wear a personal floatation device,
- Check the weather forecast and tide times,
- Follow these tips from the RNLI for staying safe on the Welsh coast,
- Visit AdventureSmart.uk for further information on how to stay safe whilst exploring Wales.