Kayaking and Canoe in Kerala Backwaters

Kayaking and Canoe in Kerala Backwaters

If you consider geography of Kerala, one thing we can understand that, Kerala having many big and small rivers, most of them are originating from Western Ghats, it flows through different places and finally land in Arabian sea. These rivers and canals having lots of tributaries create many inland canals and lakes in Kerala.   So if you go anywhere in Kerala whether its South Kerala or North Kerala, there are lots of big and narrow canals, rivers and lakes were many a villages or places where either road access is not there or even if there, the local people use small boats to travel from one place to another place.   Most of these places are of tourist importance and kayaking or canoe is an idle recreational activity to explore the remote villages and understand the living style of local people.   

Single kayak

What is Kayak?

A kayak is a small open narrow vessel, made of polyethylene resins, used to roam around in the calm or flowing waters, self maneuvered using a double blade paddle. It does not have a sun shade or roof on the top. Different types of kayaks like recreational kayak, professional kayak etc available which can accommodate either one person (single kayak) or two persons (double kayak). Best suited kayaks for beginners or first time users are the recreational kayaks.

What are the types of Kayak available?

Most of the rivers, canals, and lakes are both flowering and still waters, therefore, considering recreational kayaking, the best kayak suitable for is Sit-On-Top, Sit-In, and inflatable kayaks.

1. Sit-On-Top

Sit on top kayak

These types of kayaks have a facility to sit on the floor, elevation of which is higher, enable you to keep your leg freely. Both side of the sit on top kayak is low from the water, so easy to wet during the trip. This type of kayaks is to be used in wave less, flat, and calm water during sunny days.

2. Sit –Inside 


These types of kayaks have an open hull inside the bottom where you can sit, keep your legs within the limited area of the hull. Mostly used by professional kayakers idle for flowing river.

3. Inflatable Kayaks

These types of kayaks have air chambers can be inflated for use and deflated for storage purpose.  Convenient to carry along and can easily place in a car. 

The best option for beginners is sit on top kayak.  This is the kayak most of the operators provided for recreational kayakers in Kerala.

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Should I have prior experience to go for a Kayaking?

No, you do not need to have prior kayaking experience to do a recreational kayaking activity in narrow canals.  But you may need such experience to do white water kayaking. Those who does not have prior experience, though the maneuvering is easy, the main challenge is to how to get in and came out.  A responsible and licensed operator has an experienced guide, who will give a 10 minutes basic training on the below subjects.

  • Usually a kayak may flip when a beginner try to get into and out of a kayak.   The guide will give lessons as to how to get in and came out from a kayak.  
  • During this short training, he will also guide you how to hold your kayak paddle, maneuvering, forward and reverse stroke, how to stop and wearing a life jacket etc.
Is it easy to kayak or difficult?

Though kayaking required some effort, it is a simple activity which children having age from 15yrs onwards and old age physically fit people can easily do. The main difficulty which we have seen in our previous trips is that after an hr or so, some people get tired and complained some shoulder joint pains.  Apart from that our previous guests have not faced any difficulty of doing this activity.

What are the equipment required for Kayaking?

Off course, you required a kayak, kayak paddle and a life jacket which are all being provided by operator with whom you book the trip. 

What happens if my kayak is flip?

Most of the kayaks used here are recreational sit-on-top kayaks and it has a flat hull which is super stable.  But it can flip during the below occasions.

  • While you get in and came out from a Kayak.
  • When you try to turn head and body to look behind you.
  • If your body leaning to either of the side.  Suppose you want to give something to your friend who is in another kayak. 

We used to provide an experienced guide with a backup kayak, who can rescue in case of kayak flip or any other problems.

What are the safety measures taken by the organizer?

Srees Tours provide kayaking and canoe in Aleppey backwaters since 2012.  We always ensure that the trip is enjoyable and no untoward incident is happened.  We used to take below security measures before starting the kayaking. 

  • A 10 minutes introduction cum guidance to beginners about maneuver, how to paddle and safety measures.
  • We used to provide a life jacket.
  • We provide a guide who is trained, experienced and licensed who will accompany the activity.
What are the common problems while kayaking?
  • Water Hyacinth. Due to this reason, some time, kayaking in small canals is difficult or may divert the usual route.
  • Over weight in Kayak.  Max weight carried in a single seat kayak is 100-110kgs.  In case of person, who booked a single kayak having more weight, single sit on top needs to be changed to a two sit on top.  This last minute change is difficult and it will cost more.
  • During a 2hrs kayak trip, some people may get tired after an hr or so.
  • If it is raining, a kayak tour is not recommended.

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What is the best time for canoe or kayak?

Always morning or afternoon time is suitable to avoid the sunlight since the kayak does not have a sunroof.  Considering this, 6 am till 10 am and evening 3 pm till 06.30 pm is the most suitable time for kayaking.    

Which are the places in Kerala Recreational Kayaking is available?

Most of the tourist places in Kerala have rivers and backwaters where recreational kayaking is available.  If you are visiting any of the below destination during your trip to Kerala, you can experience recreational kayaking. 

  • Kayaking in Aleppey Backwaters.
  • Kayaking in Kumarakom Backwaters.
  • Kayaking in Thattekkadu Birds Sanctuary.
  • Kayaking in Munroe Island.
  • Kayaking in For Kochi.
  • Kayaking in Chaliyar River, Kozhikodu.
  • Kayaking in Kannur.
What is Canoe?


In Kerala, the canoe is basically a local small wooden or fiberglass boat, without an engine, operated by a person who is experienced to maneuver.  It may have a locally made roof on the top and can accommodate a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 adults.  To know more about the open boat in Aleppey and Kumarakom photos, trip schedule, price, booking, etc – Book Now

What is Open Boat?

Open boat

Open boat is basically a wooden local boat, fitted with an engine, operated by a person who is experienced to operate. It does not have a sun roof on the top and can accommodate 4 to 10 adults. To know more about the open boat in Aleppey and Kumarakom photos, trip schedule, price, booking, etc – Book Now

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