So what’s the big deal with paddling a kayak . . .? You sit in or on a kayak, grab your paddle shaft, put the blade in the water and make the boat go . . . right? Well, sort of. . .
Kayaking is one of those wonderful outdoor sports that almost anyone can do at any level. Yes, it can be as simple as sitting there and paddling more or less in the direction you want to go. But there’s so much more you can do with a boat and a paddle if you take the time to learn.
No matter how good you are (or think you are) you can always find an opportunity to learn more, get better, go faster and farther, challenge yourself, be safer on the water. You can learn how to paddle long distances comfortably; how to play in wind and waves; how to go straight when you want to or turn quickly when you need to. It’s all there for the learning. You can learn how to roll your kayak upright if you flip, or how to get yourself out of the kayak and get back in by yourself or with help from others. Some of it, you could learn on your own with years of practice.
But learning from trial and error takes longer than learning from an expert. And, learning kayaking skills on your own can sometimes put you at risk especially if you make a bad decision on the way. You are always better off to learn from people who know what they are doing and can safely teach you how to do it yourself. Here’s a list of resources for anyone wanting to get better at flat water or sea kayaking. This list covers everyone from never-evers to experts seeking advanced certification from the American Canoe Association (ACA) or the British Canoe Union North America (BCU). We’ve already covered Whitewater Kayaking Instruction In the Northeast in another story.
This list is as comprehensive as we’ve been able to make it, but lists are always a work in progress. If you know of other opportunities we haven’t listed here, or changes in any of these listings, please let us know.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In Connecticut
Collinsville: Collinsville Canoe and Kayak offers a variety of kayaking classes from beginning to advanced, including women’s classes.
Danbury: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Eastern Connecticut/Rhode Island Coast (Mystic CT to Newport, RI): Kayak Waveology offers courses in advanced sea kayaking skills including BCU certification courses, surf and tide race training.
Marlborough: L. L. Bean offers a number of “kayak discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
“Mystic Coast” (New Haven to Stonington): Connecticut Coastal Kayaking offers a lesson progression: QuickStart, Coastal Kayaking I, Rescues, Coastal Kayaking II, and Rolling.
New Hartford: MainstreamCanoes and Kayaks offers beginning and advanced paddling lessons.
New Haven: Sea Kayak Skills and Adventures offers 4 levels of kayaking skills courses.
Norwalk: Sound Kayakers & Kayak Adventure does sea kayaking lessons by appointment.
South Windsor: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
West Cornwall: Clarke Outdoors has beginning and advanced lessons taught by ACA certified instructors.
Wilton: Sea Kayak Connecticut offers basic and advanced group and private lessons taught by ACA certified instructors.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In Maine
Statewide: Most of the resources listed here are members of the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides.
Belfast: Water Walker has courses from 2 hours (for an introductory sea kayak class) to 3 days long.
Camden/Rockport: Maine Sport Outfitters offers private instruction and kayaking clinics from basic introductory courses to Level V advanced skills clinics.
Cape Neddick: Excursions offers “Sea Kayak 101” and private lessons.
Castine: Castine Kayak teaches kayak basics on their daily summer tours and offers basic and advanced private and group instruction.
Damariscotta: Midcoast Kayak has lessons for both recreational and sea kayakers.
Edgecomb: Tideway Treks has skills classes for all levels of kayakers.
Freeport: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Greenville: Northwoods Outfitters offers 3-hour and full-day instruction classes and tours.
Kennebunk: Coastal Maine Kayak offers beginner and group sea kayaking lessons. Several EasternSlopes.com staffers have taken paddling lessons here and can highly recommend.
New Harbor: Maine Kayak has 4-hour clinics in basic and advanced sea kayaking skills.
Ogunquit: World Within offers kayak and sup lessons by appointment.
Orrs Island: H2Outfitters has winter pool classes and summer ocean instruction for paddlers of all levels. Head instructor Cathy Piffath guided EasternSlopes.com executive editor Tim Jones on his first-ever kayak outing, and look how that turned out . . . Highly recommended.
Peaks Island: Maine Island Kayaking Co. offers sea kayaking instruction at all levels including day-long clinics.
Port Clyde: Port Clyde Kayaks includes basic instruction in all its kayak tours.
Portland: Portland Paddle has a 3-hour intro kayaking course every Saturday and many advanced-level classes.
Stonington: Old Quarry Ocean Adventures offers group and private sea kayaking instruction, (and a great spot to camp and explore Penobscot Bay by kayak).
West Bath: Seaspray Kayaking offers group and private basic and advanced kayaking skills classes. $50 beginner lesson includes equipment rental.
York: Harbor Adventures has Intro to Sea Kayaking classes in July and August and also does combination lessons/tours. All equipment is included.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In Massachusetts
Beverly: Kayak Learning Center offers kids camps and classes for all ages.
Boston and suburbs: AMC Boston Chapter has inexpensive learning options for kayakers of all levels.
Boston and Suburbs: Boating In Boston has beginning kayak clinics.
Boston and Suburbs: Charles River Canoe & Kayak has flat water, sea and surf kayak instruction.
Boston and suburbs: EMS Kayaking School offers flat water and sea kayaking lessons at all levels.
Boston and Suburbs: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Boston and Suburbs: REI Outdoor School offers a variety of kayak classes.
Essex: Essex River Basin Adventures offers both clinics and private lessons for beginning and advanced paddlers.
Gloucester: Discovery Adventure Kayak Tours offers beginner and advanced kayaking instruction.
Hadley: Adventure Outfitters has clinics and kayak skills weekends.
Hanson: Wild Turkey Paddlers offers informal skills sessions on alternating Thursday nights in the summer.
Hull: Nantasket Kayaks offers basic interaction as part of its tours.
Hyannis: Sea Sports Cape Cod has beginner classes ranging from 2 hours to all day.
Mansfield: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Newburyport: Plum Island Kayak has beginner clinics May to August.
Norton: Norton Kayak Co. teaches basic skills and safety as part of its guided tours and offers a kids kayak camp.
Orleans: Goose Hummock Shop has an expanded schedule of kayak instruction all summer.
Plymouth: Billington Sea Kayak offers Intro to Sea Kayaking and advanced courses all season.
Pocasset: Cape Cod Kayak has intro and rolling clinics.
Salem: Salem Kayak has a full roster of clinics for all levels.
South Shore (Norwell, Duxbury, Plymouth): Coastal Kayak Educators has lessons for all levels, both children and adults.
South Shore and Cape Cod: Kayak Dave offers private and group instruction.
Wareham: Nemasket Kayak Center has instructional courses for all levels.
Westport: Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures has an extensive kayak instruction program from beginners to ACA Certification.
West Groton: Nashoba Paddler offers skills clinics and private lessons.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In New Hampshire
Concord: Contoocook River Canoe Company offers excellent basic kayaking and rolling and rescue clinics June through August each year. Private and group lessons are also available by prior arrangement. Members of our editorial staff have taken lessons with this company and we can recommend them.
Concord: Quickwater Canoe And Kayak has 3-hour evening lessons and 6-hour weekend classes.
Errol: Northern Waters Outfitters has kayak touring classes on Umbagog Lake.
North Haverhill: Hemlock Pete’s Canoes and Kayaks offers 2-hour lessons for all levels.
Pinkham Notch: Great Glen Outdoor Center teaches basic kayaking skills as part of its guided trips. Custom classes are available.
Portsmouth: Portsmouth Kayak Adventures offers private sea kayaking lessons, rolling clinics and kayak safety classes.
Raymond: Mountain Road Trading Post offers introductory lessons on Saturdays, beginning in June.
West Lebanon: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In New York
Albany : L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Ashville: Evergreen Outfitters offers 3-hour and 6-hour intro kayak classes.
Buffalo: BFLO Harbor Kayak offers daily kayak lessons.
Cold Spring: Hudson River Expeditions has instructional tours and classes.
Croton on Hudson: Hudson River Recreation has both private and group clinics.
Fayetteville: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Hyde Park: The River Connection has clinics for all levels, equipment included.
Island Park: Empire Kayaks offers Quick Start and advanced kayak clinics.
Lake George: Lake George Kayak offers basic and advanced kayaking instruction.
Lansing: Paddle-N-More has “Quick Start” and Master paddling classes.
Long Island (Island Park and Great River): Sea Kayak Skills and Adventure offers custom instruction at all levels.
New York City: Downtown Boathouse offers FREE kayaking classes.
New York City: Manhattan Kayak Company has basic and advanced kayak lessons.
New York City: New York Kayak Company has a kayak fundamentals clinic for beginners.
Northport: Glacier Bay Sports offered beginning and advanced kayak classes.
Old Forge: Adirondack Exposure offers everything from a kayak essentials class to a “total immersion” weekend.
Peekskill: Atlantic Kayak Tours, has a variety of skills clinics and instructional weekends.
Plattsburg: The Kayak Shack offers lessons on Lake Champlain.
Portlandville: Canoe and Kayak Rentals and Sales offers basic kayak instruction
Rochester: Bay Creek Paddling Center offers both basic and intermediate kayak classes.
Saranac Lake: Adirondack Outfitters has 3 different 2-hour kayak classes for different ability levels.
Southern NY/Northern New Jersey: AMC-NY offers lessons in a variety of locations.
Victor: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Waterport: Oak Orchard Canoe and Kayak does private and group lessons on a variety of kayaking topics.
Yonkers: L. L. Bean offers a number of “Kayak Discovery” and “Introduction to Kayaking” courses.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In Rhode Island
Statewide: Action Paddling offers private and semi private lessons at all levels.
Statewide: Rhode Island Canoe/Kayak Association holds annual paddling classes.
Lincoln and Rhode Island Coast: EMS Kayaking School offers flat water and sea kayaking lessons at all levels.
Rhode Island /Eastern Connecticut Coast (Newport, RI to Mystic CT): Kayak Waveology offers courses in advanced sea kayaking skills including BCU certification courses, surf and tidal current training.
Wickford and Charlestown: Kayak Centre of Rhode Island has an extensive lineup of classes and clinics.
Where To Go For Kayaking Instruction In Vermont
Burlington: True North Kayak Adventures offers all levels of instruction by appointment to groups of 4 or more.
Stowe: Umiak Outfitters offers intro and advanced kayaking skills workshops.
Waitsfield: Clearwater Sports offers several kayaking classes from intro to advanced.