I didn’t think I would add sea kayaking to my bucket list. The first time I ever thought of it was on my trip to the Algarve in Portugal, where pushy tour guides waived flyers in my face for all sorts of aquatic adventures (including sea kayaking). The Algarve is world renowned for its sandy beaches and rusty red rock formations; all of the most popular activities involve water. The amount of tour options was extremely overwhelming, so I turned to Rick Steeves as our guiding light. His recommendation was a sailboat tour (with Bom Dia tours) of the most famous caves of the Algarve. We had a magnificent time leisurely cruising the coast with a caipirinha in hand, and transferred to a small motorboat to navigate the tight caves. This is where I came across the sea kayakers. The waves were choppy and the inexperienced kayakers were being shaken around like maracas. It didn’t help that our Portuguese boat driver was yelling at them to make way for our little speedboat. At that moment, I was very content that we didn’t opt for the sea kayaking experience.
When I got back to Halifax, Nova Scotia (where I currently call home) Summer was on the horizon. This leads to regular walks along the boardwalk, which is where I came across a group of kayakers getting ready to paddle out into the harbour. Intrigued, I looked online and found Kayak Halifax, which hosted a variety of different kayak tours. The waters seemed a bit calmer in the Halifax harbour, so I thought I would give it a try.
I booked my trip online for the two hour kayak out to George’s Island (a tiny little island at the entrance to the harbour that is featured on a plethora of postcards). Of course, this was in September after a Summer of procrastination. They had options for a 6 hour tour, but I was definitely not ready for that.
When I showed up to the meeting point, there was shipping container that had been turned into their boardwalk facility. I was pleasantly surprised that the tour group was only about 5 people (perhaps this was because it was late in the season). They provided us with all of the necessary equipment (paddles, lifejacket, kayak), but they also had little waterproof dry sacks so I could bring my phone along for the tour without fear of getting it wet. They also locked up all of our belonging that we didn’t need for the kayak. Our tour guide, Ed, the owner of the tour company was fantastic and genuinely seemed like he wanted to get to know us. He taught us the proper paddle technique that used our core muscles instead of quickly exhausting our smaller arm muscles.
We headed to the dock, where Ed was able to tell us about the marine life that was present. He managed to find some periwinkles (sea snails) on the side of the dock and passed them around for people to hold. He also was able to catch a starfish and give us a bit of an anatomy lesson, explaining how starfish eat. He instructed us about how to get into the kayak without flipping it. This was one of the parts I was most nervous for. We had a little bit of an audience, as a crowd of tourists gathered around. I was able to get in the kayak seamlessly without getting a splash of water on me.
The timing of our tour was perfect; we paddled around George’s Island at sunset with an amazing view looking back at the city. Ed recounted us with some history of the Halifax harbour and stories of his wildlife encounters. Ed made sure to snap some quintessential Nova Scotia photos of us with the lighthouse in the background.
This tour was the perfect amount of time, and we headed back into the dock at dusk. Because we were the last tour of the day, we helped Ed transport the kayaks back to the dock.
I’m glad I overlooked the chaotic kayak tour in Portugal because I had a fantastic time kayaking the Halifax harbour. I was able to look at the city from perspectives I’ve never seen in 5 years of living here. I would definitely recommend checking out Kayak Halifax if you’re in the city,
Comment on this post if you want to hear more about my Nova Scotia adventures!