5 Best Offbeat Kayaking Destinations In India

Few experiences can be as calming, and as exciting, as kayaking. It is simultaneously physically challenging and relaxing at the same time, and it is this paradox that makes it a widely-loved adventure activity. In fact, kayaking has increased so much in popularity that popular kayaking destinations see crowds of people lining up to partake in the activity. Whether it is creating ripples on the calm surface of a lake or navigating the churning waters of rapids, offbeat kayaking destinations are rare to be found. Thankfully, we’ve come up with a list of just that. If you’re itching to hop into a kayak, head to one of these destinations.

5 Best Offbeat Kayaking Destinations In India

  1. Mulki, Karnataka
  2. Chapora River, Goa
  3. Thiruvallam Backwaters, Kerala
  4. Subansiri River, Arunachal Pradesh
  5. Nagin Lake, Kashmir

Mulki, Karnataka

Karnataka has hidden several gems along its coastline that curious travelers are beginning to discover. Gokarna has steadily become a familiar name, and yes, its beaches offer kayaking. But a truly offbeat kayaking destination that rests along the same coastline is Mulki. Mulki is a small village that lies between Mangalore and Udupi, and is quite off the beaten path, perfect for those seeking to go sea kayaking in seclusion.

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Prior experience of kayaking is good for people sea kayaking for the first time, though there should always be a trainer on the beach with you to tell you all about it. The tricky bit is getting out to sea while navigating the breakers, once you’re on calm waters, it’s just you and the sea for company. There are kayaking organizers in Mulki from whom you can rent the kayaks and the life-jackets to go with them.

Getting To Mulki

Mulki has its own railway station and is a stop on the Konkan Railway line. There are a handful of trains that connect it to major cities like Mumbai. It is also well connected by road, and the nearest airport is in Mangalore.

Also Read: Best Beachside Hotels And Resorts In Gokarna

Chapora River, Goa

Yes, Goa. The perfect beach destination, complete with nightlife, alcohol, a great vibe… and hordes of tourists. Several of Goa’s beaches have sea kayaking, but turn away from the roaring sea and head to the still, serene backwaters instead. Surprised once again? Few people ever choose to explore the peaceful, tranquil and ‘susegad’ (laid-back) side of Goa; this is just where you’ll find your offbeat kayaking experience.

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The Chapora River is one of six rivers that wind their way through Goa, and its backwaters are something out of a dream. Breaking the surface tension of the still waters, you'll see mangrove forests, mudflats, minibays, coves and backwaters. Along the way, you’re sure to get a glance at the many feathered and scaled critters that call this paradise ‘home’, like otters, herons, tiny fish, and kingfishers. The kayaking is easy-paced, perfect for novices and seasoned kayaking enthusiasts alike. Time your journey right, and you may even be able to see migratory birds flocking together.

Getting To The Chapora River

The Chapora River is in North Goa, near Siolim. However, you will likely have to meet your organizers at a certain specified point; make sure you confirm this with them beforehand. 

Also Read: Authentic Food Hideouts In Goa

Thiruvallam Backwaters, Kerala

Kerala’s backwaters are world-renowned, and houseboat stays, kayaking and fishing are some of the musts when in God’s Own Country. However, most tourists land up flocking to certain locations that attract them like magnets, whether it’s Alleppey or Kozhikode. Lesser known are the backwaters of Thiruvallam, that boast the same wondrous scenery yet go overlooked by most.

The Thiruvallam Backwaters are in the district of Thiruvananthapuram, falling on the way to Kovalam. Here you can go bobbing along in Kerala’s famous kettuvallom boats, but better yet is the experience of navigating a kayak through the mangroves. The backwaters are situated between the rivers of Karanama and Killi, and the emerald green water is sure to enthrall you, making for some stunning photos.

Getting To Thiruvallam

Thiruvallam is well connected. The nearest railway station is in Thiruvananthapuram Central, and the Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest airport.

Also ReadIslands In Kerala

Subansiri River, Arunachal Pradesh

The biggest of the Upper Brahmaputra’s tributaries, the Subansiri River is also called the ‘Gold River’ by locals. It makes its way down Arunachal Pradesh, over rocks and through forests. Vertical rock faces and sparse inhabitation keep this river isolated, and it is here that people seeking that adrenaline rush should be. Kayaking down the rapids gives you a thrill like no other; navigating your boat through the gurgling waters and avoiding rocks is exciting, and an experience open to all.

Whitewater rafting has different classes based on the level of difficulty, and the rapids at Subansiri fall into classes III and IV. This means waves that rise up to around 6 feet, crashing over the bow of the boat, with narrow passages and obstacles like rocks to avoid. Only the most experienced can go kayaking here alone, while everyone else is highly advised to go with organizers so you have a guide on board. Novice or not, this is one of those must-try experiences of a lifetime.

Getting To Subansiri

Most expeditions around Subansiri begin at Daporijo, a headquarter in the Upper Subansiri district. The nearest airport is the Lilabari Airport, 260 km away from the town. Lilabari also offers helicopter services up to Ziro, 155 km away from Daporijo. From here you can hire a taxi to take you to Daporijo; the drive is 8 hours long.

Also ReadThings To Do In Roing

Nagin Lake, Kashmir

The beauty of kayaking is that it is isolating in its nature. After all, there’s just one other person on the kayak with you, and you’re bobbing along alone or with a friend, away from crowds of people. Which is why it works out well if you happen to find other people on the banks of the Nagin Lake. Also spelt as ‘Nigeen’, it is connected to its more famous counterpart the Dal Lake by a narrow causeway.

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The lake is locally known as the ‘Jewel In The Ring', and is a deep, non-polluted lake. It was given the name Nagin, meaning ‘jewel in a ring’, after the ring of poplar and willow trees that surround it. Behind the trees are the rearing heads of mountains, and overhead is the clear sky; this is the view that greets you when kayaking on the still surface of the lake.

Getting To Nagin Lake

The lake is in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar has an airport of its own and is also connected by rail.

Also Read: 10 Things To Do In Kashmir


Is Kayaking Dangerous For Non Swimmers?

Yes, kayaking can be dangerous for non-swimmers in the event that the boat topples. Knowing how to swim means you can keep your cool after it tips, but non-swimmers can panic easier. This is why it is important to have the right gear, especially a life jacket when kayaking.

What Kind Of Kayak Is Most Stable?

A type of kayak called a pontoon hull is the most stable, and least likely to tip over. These are best for calm waters. There are many different types of kayaks, each suited for different environments and water bodies.

What Should You Not Do While Kayaking?

Never mix alcohol with kayaking since you must have your senses about you. Never enter a kayak without a life jacket, and without being given instructions on what to do.

How Dangerous Is Kayaking?

Kayaking can be quite dangerous, but this can be said of any sport. There are dangers of dehydration, drowning, injury and more. However, all things done right, kayaking can be an exhilarating and enjoyable experience.

Is Kayaking Good For Fitness?

Yes, kayaking is quite good for fitness. It can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Specific health benefits are improved muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Where Is Kayaking Most Popular?

Rishikesh is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in India. This is where novices and seasoned kayakers go to navigate the white water rapids.

Is It Hard To Kayak In A Lake?

Kayaking in a lake is one of the easiest ways to experience this sport. The calm surface of the lake is perfect to relax for a while, and beginners especially will enjoy it.

Do Kayaks Flip Easily?

No, kayaks are built to be sturdy and do not flip easily. However, this also depends on the water around, and the person in the kayak. Too much movement can cause imbalance, which can definitely tip the kayak over.

Is It Ok To Kayak Alone?

It is perfectly fine to kayak alone, as long as you have some experience kayaking and you have informed people of your decision to kayak alone. Make sure people know where you are going, and carry safety gear.

Is Kayaking At Night Dangerous?

Yes, kayaking is dangerous at night. It is advisable to avoid it, and if you do go out, place a green light on your right side and red on your left to indicate which direction you're moving in. This will save you from the risk of getting dashed into by any other bigger boats that may not see you.