Kayaking Tips for First-Time Paddlers

Have you ever day-dreamt about the rivers in Napa Valley during dreary work hours? It’s okay to enjoy such guilty pleasures; whatever you need to survive the daily drill, right?

But you know what’s not okay? Never giving yourself the chance to take a trip to the Wine Country and experiencing these places in person. Everybody deserves a little break from their routine life, to spend a few days in the embrace of lush green hillsides and listen to the sound of rivers gushing amidst long-stretching meadows. That’s the life!

However, just booking a luxury vacation home and enjoying fancy meals indoors is for the old souls. Younger people have a fire in their hearts that makes them sign up for challenges that are a test of their stamina and grit. But that’s not the case with kayaking!

Imagine meandering through the Russian River as smoothly as a lazy breeze, with the soft rays of the sun playing peek-a-boo through the branches overhead. With the trees canopying the rivers like nature’s shade, you won’t have to squint to enjoy the heavenly views of herons and deer spotted along the banks. Imagine stopping by at a clearing and taking a dreamless nap while the sun caresses your skin with its toasty warmth. Or think of enjoying a delicious glass of wine with the river water trickling softly in sweet murmurs, by your side.

That’s a quintessential kayaking experience for you!

All of this sounds like a dream you don’t want to wake up from. But when we make it happen, you wouldn’t want to close your eyes for a second! Wait no more and head over to the Wine Country for a kayaking trip and wine tasting. If it’s your first time kayaking, you needn’t worry because we’re just about to offer some tips to help you make the most of this adventure. Here’s what you need to have before you sign up for a kayaking trip.

First time kayakers paddling down the Russian River

Kayaking Clothing Essentials

Let’s begin with dressing the part for adventuring in a kayak in Napa River. If you’re preparing and packing for your trip, make sure to keep your sunscreenbecause there’s going to be a lot of sun out there!

While it’s a golden chance to get a perfect tan, you wouldn’t want to miss out on having a sun hat. Because sunny days can make it difficult to see far ahead and you don’t want to miss any views while squinting or shading your eyes. It’s even better to have a pair of sunglasses on you.

Kayaking Tips - What to Wear on Your Adventure

Talk yourself out of wearing any fancy sandals or flip flops because you need sturdy shoes for a kayaking trip. You need footwear with a gripping sole and comfortable fitting, in case there’s an emergency and you need to hike your way back.

Don’t forget to pack a lightweight jacket or windbreaker because with views like that, you may lose track of time. The evenings can be windy and chilly, and if you’re not dressed appropriately, you might feel uncomfortable.

And this goes without saying, make sure you’re wearing or carrying a life vest. No matter how good you are at it, you still need to cover all bases and make sure you stay safe.

Length of the Trip

While it’s common for vacationers to sign up for really long kayaking trips because they get greedy for the views, it’s better to start with a short trip. Once you’re in the boat, you’ll know better how long a trip you can take.

We’d suggest that you save your energy and do only as much you’re ready for. And it’s not even like you can experience kayaking once and for all in your first trip only. You can always sign up for another round if you feel like sailing over the rivers and enjoying the views.

Weather Conditions

Even though Napa Valley experiences favorable weather on most days, you still need to check the weather forecast before heading out. It often gets unexpectedly windy on the Russian River on some days and that can make paddling more work than pleasure. There’s added resistance due to the strong winds and it can make paddling hard to handle for a first-timer. In contrast, your trip can be absolutely fun if the sky is clear and the sun is out.

Avoid Going Independently

We know it’s tempting to take on big challenges solo but it’s not advisable to take on a new sport unsupervised. We offer reliable kayaking services in Napa Valley and our tour guides are aware of the terrain, climate, routes and challenges.

You never know when you might need a little help steering your boat away from potential collisions or paddling through rough weather. This is why we assign trained kayaking guides who are fully equipped to handle any emergencies to our guests.

For a challenge, this might not be a great option but for a vacation, let us handle the tough job while you sit back and enjoy!

Allaying Natural Fears

If you’re scared of jumping in a pool or going close to the sea, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to overcome this fear. It’s only natural for some people to get goosebumps near a water body and it’s completely okay. Kayaking is the ideal solution because it’s a slow sport, it’s fairly easy once you get the hang of it and it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Man fall overboard on kayak

This will allow you to set aside your fears and enjoy the mesmerizing views before they’re gone. And best of all, you won’t have to paddle through rapids or rough river currents so it’s pretty much a smooth sailing journey. Keep reading for our top 3 kayaking tips to concur your fears!

  • The fear of falling: If you’re scared of the kayak flipping over and you drowning in the river, it’s next to impossible. It takes a lot of skill to turn a kayak over and a tandem kayak is even tougher! And with our guide on the trip with you, you’ll be in safe hands.
  • The fear of lacking stamina: Don’t be scared of not getting the basics right. There’s no such thing as being bad at kayaking. All you need is some training and the right weather. This is why we suggest that you take your trip during the early hours of the day because the winds are calm, and the sun is out. Later in the day, the winds can pick up and make it slightly challenging.
  • The fear of animals: Trust us; there are no sharks in the Russian River! And no animal from the river banks will be able to attack you from the other side. Rest assured, you’ll be safe and unharmed.

Body Posture While Kayaking

Once you get past all those confusions and reservations about kayaking, it’s time to learn the basics of it. Your body posture is crucial when you sit in a kayak. Your back should be straight at all times without tensing up your muscles. Your legs will stretch out in the front, with your knees slightly bent. This posture allows you to maximize your stability while kayaking.

Foot Position in a Kayak

There are foot pegs fitted inside the kayak at the front. Once you’ve settled in, you need to place your feet on the pegs such that your knees bend, move apart and touch the sides. Make sure your legs are not too up close with your upper body or fully straightened out in front of you! If it is so, you must request your tour guide to adjust the foot pegs for you. It’s a long trip so it’s best to be in a comfortable position from the start.

Kayaking Tips - How to Hold the Paddles

How To Hold The Paddles?

Holding the paddles in a kayak is much like gripping the handlebars on a bicycle. Your grip needs to be firm but not tense. However, it’s best to stay mindful of the paddles at all times because strong winds might want to tug them out of your control.

Always remember that the angle of your elbow to your body is important so pay heed to the guide’s instructions. A good tip is to ensure that the scooping sides of the paddles are always facing toward you. And most of all, stay relaxed and enjoy your trip! Everything else will fall into place with the right guidance from our guides.

Do you feel like you know more about kayaking now? Then what are you waiting for! Put this knowledge to test and plan a trip to Calistoga, CA soon. We also offer luxury vacation homes in Calistoga CA and Healdsburg that’ll fulfill all your luxury vacation fantasies to the fullest!