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Why kayaking is perfect for both weekend getaways and exotic locales

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 100 countries.  Niver is the creator of popular travel website, We Said Go Travel, a top 100 travel blog with monthly reach of tens of thousands and with international t...

The best kayaking spots for a gorgeous outdoor experience

Many people I talk with want to travel more but are worried about cost or distance for exotic locations. But you do not have to travel outside the United States for amazing experiences. Last summer, I went to Minneapolis for the first time and had fun kayaking right in the city.

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Try something new this year! Kayaking is something some people think is really hard exercise. Maybe you have seen whitewater kayaking with helmets in the Olympics and thought, I could never do that! Some people just don't want to learn to roll in their kayak. I have to admit I've been kayaking in many places and I have no idea how to roll a kayak.

Honestly, I have never even really gotten wet kayaking. Well, there was this one time in Florida I got soaked, but we were in a rainstorm and it wasn't from falling in!

Almost anyone can kayak for fun for a few hours. And you can always rent a double kayak and go out on the water, relax, see the sights, and let the other person do the paddling!

The best kayaking spots for a gorgeous outdoor experience
Image: Lisa Niver/SheKnows

Four favorite kayak spots:

1. I loved kayaking in Minneapolis with Above the Falls Sports. We walked just two blocks from their headquarters and got right into the kayaks. The scenery was beautiful, and it was such a contrast literally in the middle of the city!

2. In Broward County, Florida, we kayaked through a mangrove forest with our incredible guide, Dom Coscia. In West Lake Park's Anne Kolb Nature Preserve, we saw little blue herons, white ibis, striped mullets, giant spiders and gorgeous red mangroves! And it was all very close to our hotel, the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida. If you're visiting Miami or Fort Lauderdale, this is a great adventure to add to your itinerary.

3. If you're ready to go farther for your water sports, I highly recommend a visit to Palau. You can stay on Carp Island — part of the Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and kayak all day. A bucket-list visit to Jellyfish Lake to swim with the stingless jellys must be on your agenda. You can also snorkel and kayak in other parts of the Rock Islands. This is truly a lifetime highlight.

4. The islands of Vava’u in Tonga are another bucket-list destination for kayakers. I found Tonga’s tourism prices high for the value of the accommodation and food, but it is stunningly beautiful. Plus, swimming with the whales is amazing, and I got to watch Tonga’s Got Talent!

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History of kayaking

Ever wonder where kayaking comes from? It is believed the Inuit first invented the one-person boat for transportation and hunting. One of the main differences from today's kayaking is the use of a double-bladed paddle.

It's different from canoeing because a canoe has a one-sided paddle and the paddler sits on a raised seat. In a kayak, you sit on a low seat with your legs extended. Kayaking and canoeing have been in the Summer Olympic Games since 1936 in Berlin.

New technology in kayaking

If you already kayak or want to take your kayaking to a new level, I have the best new device for you! I recently interviewed former Navy officer Guy Aharon in Israel and learned about his Motionize paddle, a motion-sensor training tool for kayaking.

Imagine having a top coach with you on the water, giving you real-time feedback on where to place your paddle, how to change the angle and even earning badges for great progress. The user interface is easy to understand and use — take the iPhone app outside and learn with it. It's like a Wii on steroids, as you are actually doing a sport outdoors and your kids will still think they're playing a video game. The emergency-message feature adds a layer of safety to your time on the water, and the U.K. Coast Guard has already endorsed it.

Whether you go out for a water tour in Minneapolis or travel to a place like Vava’u, Tonga or Carp Island, Palau, kayaking is a great way to get some exercise, see the sights and enjoy family and friends as they move through the water with you.

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Find more activities and travel tales on my website, We Said Go Travel or my YouTube Channel.

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