There’s perhaps no greater joy than steering your own boat across waters calm or rough, one paddle at a time. With gorgeous landscapes keeping you company on your endeavours, kayaking is one of the most rewarding water sports out there! What is a kayak, you ask? A kayak is a long slender boat made either for single or double person use, steered either on still waters like lakes, white water rapids like rivers, or in open seas. With each different kind of water, come different kinds of manoeuvring skills. Very similar in its structure to a canoe, kayaking and canoeing are distinguished by their paddles. While a kayak uses a double-bladed paddle, a canoe usually uses a single-bladed one. Although kayaks were traditionally made with closed decks, inflatable and sit-on-top kayaks are slowly gaining popularity as well.

On still waters, kayaking is an extremely easy sport to learn and can be quite meditative as well! Both a recreational and a competitive sport, kayaking is now also being done in combination with other activities like diving, fishing and also being used for eco-tourism activities.

The ‘Then and Now’

Kayaking is an extremely old sport that first came into being by the Eskimos of the Arctic regions. The first kayaks were built with either wood or whale skeletons, using seal skins for the body. The original use of the kayak was for hunting and fishing. It wasn’t until the 1800s that kayaking became popular and in 1931, the whitewater kayaking as we know today seems to have been born when Adolf Anderle became the first-ever person to kayak through the Salzachöfen Gorge. Kayaking was only introduced as an Olympic sport by 1936 in Berlin.

Kayaking in India

Though a relatively lesser-known watersport, kayaking in India as is fun as any other water sport, perhaps even more fun! Though in other popular boating sports like rafting, the use of teamwork is needed, kayaking a sport that can be done and enjoyed solo. There are a number of places in India where kayaking is done as a tourist activity.

Best Places to go Kayaking in India



Contrary to popular belief, Rishikesh is famous for more things apart from rafting! The crystal blue waters of the Ganges and the fiery rapids every now and then make for a perfect kayaking adventure. With a combination of still water and whitewater kayaking, this experience can be quite an exhilarating one and will most definitely leave you craving for another round. Starting from Shivpuri and ending at the famous Triveni Ghat, kayaking in Rishikesh is done across an 18 kilometres stretch and is one of the best places for a kayak adventure!


The best open sea kayak experience you can get in India has to be in the Arabian Sea of Kudle Beach in Gokarna! With gentle waves pushing your kayak here and there every now and then, kayaking in Gokarna is sure to be an experience of a lifetime.


Famous for its backwaters and house-boats it’s about time we made Allepy famous for its kayaking too! Kayaking in Allepy includes steering through mesmerising waters lined with mangrove trees on the shores as you make your way through backwaters rich in biodiversity. Since the waters here are relatively stiller, this experience is also best suited for beginners and is sure to leave you craving to learn more!

Best Time to go Kayaking in India

The best time for kayaking in India is usually year-round, except for monsoons when the waters become rough and unsafe for the sport. Typically, October or November through May should be the best time for kayaking in India.

Kayaking Courses and Certifications

The Association of International Paddle Sports Federations is the global governing body that oversees all aspects of kayaking. India has its own federation for kayaking and canoeing, namely, Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association (IKCA) which oversees the Indian participation for kayaking and canoeing in World, Asian and Olympic Games. The various disciplines under the IKCA include Kayak Sprints, Kayak Slalom, Kayak Polo and Kayak Sea Touring. On the other hand, the International Sea Kayaking Guide Association oversees commercial kayak guides globally.

Although there are several institutions that offer kayaking courses in India, none of them is licensed by or affiliated to The International Sea Kayaking Guide Association. Some of these institutions include Kayak Himalaya in Uttarakhand and National Institute of Watersports in Goa.

Kayaking Career Prospects

Since kayaking as a formal profession is relatively underexplored in India, it offers enormous opportunities if tapped in. From being a professional competitive kayaker to a kayaking instructor and even a rescue kayaker, the career options in kayaking are limitless, and can be immensely rewarding!

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