Benefits of kayaking – stay fit and zen

I discovered kayaking far too late. Don’t make the same mistake because kayaking is one of the best ways to stay fit and zen at the same time as well as explore secluded parts of this world. I fell in love with it and kayaking became one of the main activities of our adventure tours in Croatia.

Kayaks were created by Inuit tribes thousands of years ago and a name kayak translates to “hunter’s boat”. It was mainly used for fishing and even nowadays many fishermen favor kayak more than other means of moving through water. Few kayak designs were developed during the time and different versions were used according to various needs. In the modern times kayaking was recognized as a sport and other various activities were made possible by redesigning kayak, for example white water kayaking in which smaller and wider kayak is used as opposed to sea kayaking where long and narrow kayak is much better fit. According to a cockpit style there are sit-in kayaks in which person sits and with a usage of spray deck makes kayak completely closed system and sit on top kayaks in which person is not closed and can jump out of kayak at any given moment.

First time I got a chance to try this awesome activity was back in 2006. I was member of local adventure club called “Osmica” (figure 8 knot in rock climbing). Me and my best friend (same one as in Biokovski vuk story) decided to participate at hardest adventure race in Croatia of that time – Cetina adventure race. Part of the challenge was kayaking on a Peruča lake in total distance of 22 kilometers. We never tried kayaking so we took one from a club, DAG Tribal it was, went to nearby Baćina lakes and…paddled in circles for about one hour. That was my first ever touch with kayaking. “Shit” – we thought, we will never prepare for the race in time, we can surely paddle for 22 kilometers but we’ll reach nowhere.

But that was not the case. In about hour or so we managed to control the boat and from that time onward kayaking was fun. We went to race, did a kayaking part with no problems as well as other parts of the race which covered more than 100 kilometers in total.

Later on I went to university in Zagreb. It was far from the sea so I didn’t even think about kayaking for a while. Until the last years of my university education when I decided to join kayaking club in Zagreb. And so I was paddling every second day on a Jarun lake. Not even the winter could stop me, nothing, I would grab a kayak from a warehouse, sit in it and just enter the zen paddling state. If you tried kayaking you’ll probably know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t you might not believe me until you try. There is something meditative in repeated paddle strokes that propel you through the water. I was training kayaking for about a year and then I had to stop because of other obligations I had at that time.

Later that year, just few months before the summer I saw an ad in which largest Croatian adventure travel agency was looking for adventure guides with kayaking being one of the activities. I applied, got in, ended a 2 months education and spent whole summer kayaking on Zrmanja river as well as some other places too. Awesome summer, kayaking down the rapids every day with nothing but a nature around you. “I could do this forever” – I thought. And that’s how Life and Ventures adventure tours started. Kayaking is part of some of our most popular adventure tours in Croatia such as Baćina lakes kayaking and Makarska Riviera sunset sea kayaking.

I saw what’s to become my first kayak on a very first day I came to Zrmanja river. It was a DAG sea kayak Miwok and it was only DAG kayak among Prijon flotilla. Prijons were newer and Miwok was last in line, abandoned. I asked the boss if I can buy it at the end of a summer and he agreed. And that’s how I got my first kayak ever which I still use today and wouldn’t exchange for anything. Later that summer I bought 2 more DAG kayaks – Biwoks which are 2 seated versions of Miwok. Spent almost everything I earned that summer on kayaks. But it felt nice, it was part of a larger scheme, part of a dream.

So what’s so good about kayaking? Here are some reasons why kayaking is great for both your body and mind:

— you are out in the nature

— you are far away from the stress and any problems

— you can explore most secluded parts of the coastline

— you move around only by your strength (makes you feel good)

— you can burn up to 450 calories per hour of kayaking (depends on some factors)

— it’s excellent exercise for upper body and core muscles

— you can lay or sit in a kayak whenever you want to and just enjoy in nature

— the list goes on and on but we don’t want to make this post a list

As a time went by I got into kayaking more and more. I love the sole feeling of paddling, I like how fast you can go, how you can struggle with high waves and other bad weather conditions. Every type of kayaking has it’s beauties. Calm water will make you enjoy the reflections around you while sea waves will make you go up and down like in roller coaster (sometimes you’ll just run through the waves with water splashing all around you). Being in a sit-in kayak makes you almost invincible, you are like a submarine and you cut through the waves easily. This, of course, does not mean that you should get out in the sea in a really bad weather. Know your limits.

There are many kinds of kayaks as well. If you seek fast kayak for longer tours you’ll probably choose composite ones. If the ease of transportation is your main goal then you’ll go for inflatable kayaks. There is also a kayak surfing as an activity in which you must use special narrow kayaks. Never tried it but from a videos I’ve watched it seems like a great fun. I found that sea kayaking and plastic touring kayaks are a best fit for me. Sometimes I like to paddle for hours and just get lost in the process.

You can go kayaking in pretty much any weather conditions (with a proper equipment) and that’s nice too. There is nothing better than kayaking in a summer rain or fight with the southern wind waves. Of course, severe weather is better for cup of coffee near the window. Be smart. Don’t underestimate power of nature and overestimate yours.

As we are born and living in Croatia which is a country with beautiful coastline and many islands we have a chance for a lifetime of kayaking exploration. Croatia is simply perfect for sea kayaking. As well as Greenland with all those iceberg kayaking routes. But we are nowhere near Greenland so we spend most of our kayaking time in finding secluded beaches and swimming far from everyone.

So to conclude, if you ever find yourself on a vacation and you get a chance to try kayaking, try it. You’ll have a great time a possibly fall in love with this activity. On the other hand, if you live near the sea (or river and lakes) and you want some hobby or activity to keep you active, consider buying yourself a kayak.

Enjoy your adventures!

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