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There’s a reason you’ll start to see more and more brightly-colored plastic boats atop cars heading north in the next couple weeks: kayaking. One of the best ways to relax AND get a workout. Tan AND exercise. Spend time with friends AND challenge yourself. View the bay AND the peninsula. Any more contradictions to dissolve with kayaking? Whether you’ve paddled before or you’re thinking about heading out for your first time, Door County is a perfect place to start, explore, and build up your kayaking repertoire.
I learned how to kayak in my high school swimming pool. They stuck a class of us in white water kayaks and watched as we struggled period after period trying to flip our kayaks back over. (I have yet to be successful.) Even after a brash first-taste of kayaking, I’m still a huge fan of the sport. And typically, the kayaking most of us would do has nothing to do with endlessly trying to flip a kayak back over (tipping is not that easy on a sea kayak!) Whether it’s for a workout for my wimpy arms or to relax and watch the sun rise or set, kayaking is my favorite boat to be on in the water. Luckily, Door County is literally surrounded by water with over 300 miles of shoreline and beautiful views. It makes for the ideal place to hop in a boat and paddle to your hearts content spring through fall.
Kayaking is so versatile, it suits all abilities and most seasons. May is bringing warmer breezes and pretty blossoms to the Peninsula and the ice shoves have finally melted back into the lake, making the waters ready for a little boat action. Ideal for your first taste of Lake Michigan, kayaking gives you the chance to get on the water early while not having to get wet in the still-chilled waters. Since it’s not difficult to learn, it’s a sport you can start early in this summer season and grow into over the year. Summer obviously is a great time to kayak, but fall brings on a special view as well. The fall colors couldn’t be more gorgeous reflecting off the water. Beginner-friendly and accessible, kayaking is almost a perfect way to enjoy Door County three seasons out of the year.
Have you heard of the stand up paddle board craze? Kayaking is the sit-down version of the now popular stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP). While the hype may be around the SUP, I still recommend grabbing kayaks for the waters in Door County. I find it more relaxing to sit as I paddle around. I love to dip my feet in over the edge and feel the water (completely unproductive with the drag it causes, but so relaxing!). It’s also calming to just float after a long stride as kayaks have an intriguing crisp cut through the water on a calm day. While paddle boards require you to stand if you want to be effective, I’d rather plop in my boat and cruise along as I please, pausing casually to take in views. Plus, how many activities allow you to get a workout while sitting down? Not many my friends, not many.
Bring your own boats up or save time and energy (and the worry of having them atop your car!) and rent from one of the many kayak rental shops on the peninsula. No matter which part of DC you’re staying in, there’s a kayak rental spot nearby. They also offer great expertise and guidance if you’re a new paddler and able to guide you to the best places to go for the conditions that day…or encourage you to take one of their guided tours! I’ve had some great experiences with guides on kayak trips, they always add that extra flair or break the ice when people in my groups are a bit apprehensive about their first paddle. That being said, if you are traveling with a group, kayaking is a great option for a day’s activity. The combination of having independence in your boat while still being a part of a group is unique and can keep multiple personalities entertained and challenged. You can also find tandem kayaks and paddle with a partner, making for a great team or couple activity.
There’s a place for every paddler in Door County, whether you’re looking to venture off on your own or more comfortable with a guide, no matter how many times you visit you’ll always discover a new spot to explore. And it won’t get old; come back spring, summer and fall and the views you love will morph into their own personalities as the seasons pass by. If it’s your first time kayaking, go for it! Kayaking is a great sport to get hooked on that will keep you active for years to come. It’s a great way to view the waterscape and see the peninsula off the shoreline. As Confucius once said, “A man of wisdom delights in water.” Be wise, choose a kayak.
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