Explore the Arctic and Antarctic coastline in a kayak
One of the best things about a polar voyage is that you’re never done exploring. Even if you think you have walked every shore, climbed every mountain, and spotted every penguin (or polar bear), there is still a whole other world to explore on the water.
Polar kayaking is a great way to tour the blue-and-white beauty of the polar seas up close, visiting stunning ice formations and waterways too small for our ships to enter.
Do I need to be an experienced kayaker?
The amount of experience we require depends on the cruise you choose. If you have no experience at all, we suggest one of our Basecamp voyages, where we will happily introduce even the most inexperienced kayakers to this wonderful outdoor sport.
Kayaking in Spitsbergen © Pete Gwatkin-Oceanwide Expeditions
The toughest part of kayaking in gentle waters is usually getting into the kayak itself. After that, you just have to keep a steady rhythm with your paddles.
Some of our cruises require that you have more kayaking experience because they involve longer kayak excursions. These excursions expose you to water that might not be as gentle as a sheltered bay, and you stand more of a chance of encountering rougher weather conditions.
You will not need to be able to do a kayak roll, but you should be able to demonstrate that you’re comfortable in a sea kayak. On these non-Basecamp excursions, our guides reserve the right to refuse you access to a kayak if it is clear you don’t have the necessary experience. This is for your safety as well as theirs.
Getting ready for kayaking © Elke Lindner-Oceanwide Expeditions
How physically fit do I need to be?
You will want to be in decent physical shape and possess a good sense of balance. Kayaking can be demanding on your core and arm muscles.
If you’re not sure if you are quite ready for kayaking, please do not hesitate to check out our kayaking FAQ or simply contact us. We would be happy to explain more about the activity and help you with any additional questions you might have.
How many times can I go kayaking?
On basecamp trips, we aim for each guest to kayak once. On regular voyages, we aim for four to six excursions per passenger who has booked the supplement. Our kayaking activity is always determined by weather and water conditions, since your safety is our primary concern.
Kayak fun © Oliver Richter-Oceanwide Expeditions
Is polar kayaking safe?
All of our kayaking outings are led by certified and experienced guides, but you must always take caution when kayaking in the polar regions.
We will provide you with suitable outer clothing for kayaking. Kayak excursions are limited to 14 passengers per kayak guide. This number lets our guides keep track of everyone and make sure our guests are having a good time.
One guide stays with the group in a support kayak, while a safety boat follows in case of emergencies. All guides will try to scale excursions to the skill level of the group.
Do I have to bring my own kayaking equipment?
We will provide the following items:
- Six single-seat & seven double-seat sea kayaks on Plancius & Ortelius
- 14 double-seat sea kayaks on Hondius
- Paddles with anti-drip rings
- Basic (4 mm neoprene) wetsuits in different sizes
- Kayak spray cover
- Waterproof lightweight jacket (cagoule)
- Life jacket / kayak vest
- Neoprene boots
Please bring the following gear:
- thermal underwear, bottom and top (for under the wetsuit)
- fleece jacket or vest to wear over your thermal underwear
- gloves (insulated ski or snowboard gloves with grip or neoprene watersport gloves)
- waterproof bag (if you are bringing a camera or binoculars)
- fleece hat
- turtleneck or neck gaiter
- thick socks
Avoid bringing cloth clothing like T-shirts or jeans. Once it gets wet (from water or sweat), it will stay wet for a long time – not a comfortable experience in polar weather!
What will I see while kayaking?
You’ll see rugged shorelines sloping up into snow-capped mountains, pristine beaches, and icebergs that turn the water beneath you a brilliant blue. You may also see some local wildlife, which the peaceful nature of kayaking makes even better.