THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO MAKE A SPLASH
Yes, “water, water everywhere… nor any drop to drink” as Coleridge wrote 215 years ago in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” We don’t need to drink sea water as long as we can also enjoy it by boating, sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, charter boating and more.
Kayaking on calm water that surrounds Hilton Head Island is not only relaxing, it can be a great adventure, too. And the best part? Kayaking is a sport for everyone.
“Ability is not a concern,” said Mike Overton, president of Outside Hilton Head, which rents kayaks and other water sports equipment. “If you can walk around the block, you can kayak. This is taking a nature walk through the marsh.”
With the abundance of accessible inlets, rivers and lagoons in the area, kayaking is an exotic yet practical exercise. But it remains uncharted territory for many locals and tourists. For those willing to try, here are some basic expectations and recommendations.
Whether starting with a lesson or tour, or for those who prefer trying solo, the necessities are safety precautions, knowing how to enter and exit the kayak and some paddling basics.
Important safety rules include wearing a personal flotat ion device, keeping safe distances from larger water vessels such as boats, maintaining balance and simply staying in a comfort zone.
Kayak paddles, unlike canoe prototypes, have blades on both ends. Once in the water, grip the paddle with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Then alternate strokes from side to side, forming an imaginary figure eight.
From there, one can kayak for leisure, or turn an afternoon into vigorous exercise. It’s much like deciding whether to walk, jog or run intervals, only on the water. The harder you paddle, the more strenuous the workout.
Depending on the location, expect to encounter marine wildlife. In this area, dolphins are aplenty and may come within feet of your kayak. Manatees, river otters and various fish reside here, too. Many local companies that rent kayaks also have guided eco-tours and dolphin tours.