It’s a big world out there, and 71% of it is covered in water. The possibilities for watercraft enthusiasts are virtually endless, it’s just a matter of finding the right spots to launch. While each adventurer and each vessel has their own unique needs and abilities, we’ve compiled a list of tips for identifying the right put in locations for kayakers at any level. With a bit of planning and a kayak designed for convenience and adventure, the possibilities are endless. Happy exploring!
Understand Kayak Launch Conditions:
A successful kayaking trip starts at the point of entry. Having a safe, smooth launch can make or break the rest of your journey. When preparing to launch, evaluate the following conditions to help you find the best kayaking launch site.
Safety should be at the core of every put in. Learn about the launch site’s currents, shoreline conditions, and weather patterns, particularly if there could be offshore winds that make it difficult to return the way you came. Based on what you learn, devise an alternative route back out of the water in case conditions require a new exit point.
Know your skill level and select your paddling location accordingly. Invest in a kayak designed with durability in mind. The Pakayak features designs used in airplanes and underwater dive cameras, ensuring the most dependable experience. Consider environmental factors like prevailing wind, waves, launch and landing points, boat traffic, and swimmer traffic. You can gain insights into launch conditions by consulting with the locals or finding trip documentation in community forums or larger databases like paddling.com’s Paddling Locations Map.
Some put in locations can be selected by your ability to even get to them. The most common launches are directly off of the shore or from a dock. An ideal shore launch site has ample space to prepare and board your kayak. If you plan on launching from a popular spot, consider how much room you’ll have from parking to put in with all the other people and their own boats around.
If the dock or the shore are favorable, you also must consider the parking situation. Can you bring your car up to the water, or will you have to walk with your kayak, and how far? The size, weight, and shape of your boat can determine what level of accessibility you’ll need. For an increased range of accessibility, the Pakayak nests into itself and fits snugly in its zipper bag with wheels, so you can take it with you on your next adventure.
Are you looking for a quiet, reflective excursion, or do you want to share the moment with other eager ‘yakers? Your sentiment towards how much company you’ll have on this outing can help you identify the right place to launch. If you’re going to a popular spot, either be ready to share the launch site or time your launch so you beat the crowds.
Furthermore, be mindful of swimmers in the area, and try to stay as far away from them as you can. A good kayaker is focused on their own safety as well as the safety of those around them.
What are you hoping to do during your outing? Are you looking for wildlife? Going fishing? Or are you simply looking to connect with the water and take a break from life on land?
When you’re searching for the best put ins in your area, include in your search all the features you’re going after. A lot of local nature guides and resources will let you know about the surrounding habitat and specific destinations from the best fishing coves to nearby islands. Align your launch point with accessibility and proximity to your adventure destinations in mind.
Find Kayak Launch Sites
Establishing the conditions of your launch is phase 1, so next it’s time to hone in on finding your site and launching. Whether you’re scouting out new put in locations in your community or planning out a vacation across the country, there are many stones you can turn to find the right places to paddle. Consider the following resources to help you find the right put ins for your skill level and interests.
5. Connect with Kayakers
Who doesn’t love the internet? These days, so many launch sites have been documented on forums and within local paddling groups and all it takes is a quick search including your location to find them. And with the highly portable Pakayak, you can explore new put ins anywhere you go. Websites like Meetup and Facebook have plenty of local or regional kayak groups to join so you continue to learn new put ins, new routes, and perhaps make new friends in the process. If you’re having trouble finding an active group in your area, start one up! Many others will be glad you did.
6. Review State/National Park Resources
Every state, and many counties and towns, provide comprehensive guides to parks and other forms of outdoor adventure. Parks bordering rivers, lakes, and oceans nearly always have some form of boat accessibility.
As more and more people rely on technology to plan their activities, you won’t have to look hard to find an interactive map that allows you to search parks by your exact criteria. For instance, we love how California’s Department of Parks and Recreation lets you search not just for boating, but boat ramps. And if you’re still in the really early phases of planning your trip, national park and forest sites have plenty of recommendations too. How many of the 14 best places to canoe and kayak in the national forests have you crossed off your list?
7. Ask the Locals
Folks at the local outdoor gear shop will likely have some launch site advice and would be happy to share their knowledge with you, whether you’re there for vacation or a local yourself. When you’re at the potential site, strike up conversation with other visitors and see what they know. Just like with environmental conditions, sometimes the best resources are the people who have direct contact with the area.
8. Map it Out
Some kayakers like to survey the area and chart their course by using good ol’ fashioned maps. Google Earth is an especially useful tool for getting a birds eye or street view of many potential locations. Plus, if you’re trying to plan around a particular length of time, you can use the Google Earth ruler tool to calculate distance. After you’ve considered general proximity to the specific features of your kayak trip, use a map to dial in the time and distance your journey will take.
9. Seek Your Own Adventure
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with going out there and finding your own ways. Make your kayak trip purely your own and you might just discover a better put in than you could have imagined! Make sure you have the best kayak for the job, and you’re on your way.
As always, exercise caution keep safety in mind. When you’re going somewhere new, always let someone else know where you are and how many are in your group. Then, get out there and explore. When you have a kayak that’s built not only for durability and performance but for accessibility and adventure – finding the right launch site is easy as can be.