9 gorgeous kayaking trips to waterfalls
Kayaking over waterfalls should be left to the extreme sports experts, but paddling up to a waterfall is a thrill most of us can achieve. Read on for nine gorgeous places to feel the rush and the roar of nature’s most powerful shower.
1. Seven Sisters Waterfalls, Norway
There’s a reason why more than 700,000 tourists, including many kayakers, sail through the deep blue waters of the Geirangerfjord in Norway every year. Located in the western part of the country, the 9-mile-long fjord is home to seven 800-foot-deep falls, known to locals as the Seven Sisters Waterfalls.
Sign up for a day trip through Kayak More Tomorrow. A certified guide will lead you through the fjord to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls. Along the way, you’ll pause to enjoy lunch with a view of the crashing waters. This four- to five-hour trip includes your gear, so all you need to bring is weather-appropriate clothing and a sense of adventure.
2. Manai Falls, Japan
Manai Falls is one of the highlights of the Takachiho Gorge, an expansive V-shaped gorge created by the Gokase River in Japan. As the water cascades down the cliffs and into the river, clouds of mist form and rise from the water. While the view down into the gorge is stunning, the one from the water might be even better. Kayakers of all skill levels can enjoy an easy paddle that begins at the south end of the gorge and continues up to the base of the 54-foot waterfall. Insider tip: Visit in the summer to see Japanese azaleas and wisteria reflected in the emerald green waters.
3. Uluwehi Waterfall, Hawaii
Paddle through Hawaii’s only navigable river, the Wailua River, to discover the 125-foot Uluwehi Waterfall in Kauai. After a calm paddle past Kamokila Village and the North Fork, you’ll disembark at the Secret Falls trailhead for a moderate 20-minute hike. Swim near the crashing water in a natural pool surrounded by lush vegetation. The river’s name means “land of kings,” as this natural swimming hole was once reserved only for Hawaiian highnesses. Now, you too can experience the royal treatment by relaxing in this pool by the falls. For a day-long adventure, sign up for a river and waterfall kayak tour with Kauai Kayak Adventures, which lasts about four to five hours and includes a picnic lunch.
4. Navigate Italy’s Beachside Waterfall
Along Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast in Positano, Italy, the Marmorata Waterfall plunges down the side of cliff and into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Novice and skilled kayakers alike can sign up for a four-hour tour with Amalfi Coast Sea Kayak that covers 5.66 sea miles and explores natural rock arches, sea caves featuring sulfurous springs, and more waterfalls. Hop out of the kayak to visit secluded beaches only reachable by boat, or snorkel in clear waters.
5. Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Mreznica River, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Mreznica River in Croatia offer unforgettable waterfall views, along with rafting, hiking, and biking adventures. Take a week off work, pack your gear, and visit this World Heritage Site, which includes 16 waterfalls fed by the Black and White Rivers. Snap a selfie with dozens of waterfalls every day by signing up for the five- to eight-day Clear Rivers Country tour, available through Huck Finn Adventure Travel. This trip will take you down the Mreznica River, through Plitvice Lakes National Park, and to the Una River in Bosnia. Along the way, you’ll navigate past a whopping 93 waterfalls, gorges so narrow that sunlight peeks in for just a few hours a day, and warm pools of water so inviting that you just might jump in.
6. Glacier-made waterfalls, Alaska
Sign up for the Blackstone Bay Glacier day tour with Prince William Sound Kayak Center in Whittier, Alaska. You’ll paddle through “bergy bits” (floating chunks of ice in the water) on your way out, but ice chunks aren’t all you’ll spot in the water. You might encounter sea otters and, if you’re lucky, a whale in the distance. As you approach the glaciers, watch and listen as waterfalls created by glacial melt cascade down the ice and cliffs and crash into the ocean.
7. Bay of Islands, New Zealand
You won’t be lonely when you kayak through New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. A dolphin might swim by, owls may hoot in your direction, and a shockingly iridescent sea glow worm might leave you questioning your sanity. After you paddle through mangrove forests and past uninhabited islands, you’ll encounter Haruru Falls, a horseshoe-shaped waterfall that drops into the sea. Looking to get that adrenaline pumping? Book a trip with Bay of Islands Cruise and Kayak and paddle through the foaming waters and directly under the waterfall for an unforgettable cool-down.
8. Willamette Falls, Oregon
With a flow of 30,849 cubic feet per second, Oregon City's Willamette Falls is the second-most powerful waterfall in the U.S. Plunging 52 feet into the Willamette River, these falls form a unique horseshoe shape that spans 1,500 feet, splitting the upper and lower reaches of the river. Head out on a tour with eNRG Kayaking suitable for all skill levels and ages. Along the way, you’ll learn about the logging industry that powered the area back in the pioneer days. Consider this a hands-on history lesson with a spectacular finish.
9. Bridal Veil Falls, Alaska
Paddle past a ghost forest on your way to Bridal Veil Falls in Miller’s Landing, Alaska. Home to the remains of the 1964 Alaskan earthquake, this once-bustling logging town now features merely a post office and cemetery. You’ll spot a little more life as sea otters and sea lions swim by, mountain goats and black bears walk near the shore, and sea eagles soar overhead. All ages and experience levels can enjoy this kayak tour, which culminates at Bridal Veil Falls.