Top 6 kayaking vacations in the UK

Kayaking is a great way to get active outdoors – and it’s also an excellent option for anyone wanting to explore while barely disturbing the environment. Tailor made and small group kayaking vacations in the UK allow you to discover the island nation in the company of a local expert and qualified instructor. These are the people who will guide you safely around sea stacks and into echoing caves; they’re the ones who will help you get your water wings as you grow in confidence and paddle off for picnics on secret beaches.

From Devon and Dorset in South West England to Pembrokeshire in Wales and the Scottish Hebrides – here are our best kayaking vacations in the UK.

1. Family kayaking in South Devon

This family adventure includes two days of sea kayaking and good-natured coaching from local guides who know the twists and turns of the Devon coast well. They’ll glide you away from crowded beaches to hollow caves and kingfisher-friendly creeks only accessible from the water. Spend your nights slumbering in a self-catering barn house that’s all for yourselves, surrounded by a 15th-century orchard.

Our top selling trip: Family sea kayaking vacation in Devon
All our trips: Devon vacations
Read more: Sea kayaking in Devon travel guide

2. Exploring the wild Welsh coast

Explore the wild and woolly Welsh coast in a sea kayak, and you’ll soon realise what it means to truly get away from it all. This is where you can jump off sea stacks and explore dripping caves as you paddle against the rugged Pembrokeshire coastline in the company of qualified local experts.

Sea kayaking in Wales gives you a chance to get to grips with the basics before moving on to develop your technique and paddle skills. Some stretches of the coastline are stunning – and avoiding overcrowded car parks and opting for lesser-known launch points is the best way to keep them that way.

Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking vacation in Wales
All our trips: Wales vacations
Read more: Sea kayaking in Wales travel guide

3. Paddling around the Isle of Mull

If you’ve never been sea kayaking before, Scotland is a great place to dip your paddles in for the first time. The Isle of Mull, especially, holds some of Scotland’s most spectacular shores. This is where you’ll discover hidden bays connected by a continuous stretch of sheltered and calm water. Sea kayaking here also places you into the very heart of the Inner Hebrides, where sea eagles, basking sharks and porpoise reside.

On land, you can enjoy a host of hearty fare in pubs and restaurants that have been on Mull for generations. After all, sea kayaking in Mull is as much about getting to know the rich traditions of the west coast of Scotland as enjoying the great outdoors. See the medieval turrets of Castle Duart, the sheltered beaches of Erraid Island, and take a boat trip out to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles.

Our top selling trip: Isle of Mull sea kayaking vacation
All our trips: Scotland adventure vacations
Read more: Top 8 adventure vacations in Scotland

4. Short break kayaking & bird watching

Kayaking is one of the best ways to discover Devon without damaging the environment or adding to the busy summer crowds. South Devon’s coastline has particularly superb stretches to explore from offshore. Torbay is great for paddling in sheltered waters, with lots of deep, dark sea caves and secret sandy beaches providing opportunities for adventures.

While you’ll see spectacular sea cliffs and exposed headlands all along the coast, paddle inland and you’ll find reed beds, narrow creeks and wetland areas well-known for housing herons, cormorants and kingfishers. The Dart Estuary is great for watching wildlife while kayaking in Devon.

Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking short break in Devon
All our trips: Devon vacations
Read more: Sea kayaking in Devon travel guide

5. Discovering the dramatic Pembrokeshire coast

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is often regarded as the best place in Wales for sea kayaking. Setting off from the village of St Davids, you’ll be presented with a series of dramatic coastal stretches, as well as plenty of locally owned places to eat out and stay overnight on dry land. Wildlife watching boat trips, picnics on deserted beaches and exploring the rocky shores of St Davids Peninsula are all amazing ways to spend your time sea kayaking in Pembrokeshire. Offshore islands like Ramsey, Grassholm and Skokholm are home to colonies of puffins, gannets and seals, so make sure you pack your binoculars as well as your thermals.

Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking short break in Pembrokeshire
All our trips: Pembrokeshire vacations
Read more: Sea kayaking in Wales travel guide

6. Atlantic adventures in the Outer Hebrides

Sea kayaking in the Outer Hebrides is like paddling across a cool, clear glass of water. It’s an opportunity to experience the impact of the Atlantic Ocean on Scotland’s outer islands, where fjordlike lochs and crinkle-cut coastlines provide safe havens for seals and migrating and native birds.

Staying on the Isle of Lewis, the largest in the Outer Hebridean archipelago, you can take advantage of a warm and cosy bunkhouse before setting off for a wild camping trip around the island’s outer reaches. Practise your paddling on the sheltered waters of Loch Roag before gaining in confidence as you embark on a kayaking expedition around the tidal islets and skerries within the Sound of Harris. One final fish supper in Stornoway is all you need to toast your Atlantic adventures.

Our top selling trip: Outer Hebrides sea kayaking vacation in Scotland
All our trips: Scotland adventure vacations
Read more: Hebrides travel guide
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Roddy Mcdowell] [1. Kayaking & bird watching in Devon: Phil Gayton] [3. Paddling around the Isle of Mull: Andy Waddington] [5. Discovering the dramatic Pembrokeshire coast: Preseli Venture]