You may have been living here in London for years but if you haven’t yet sailed around on the waterways, you’ve probably missed one of the best ways in which to see the city. Kayaking in London is a great way to unwind, and you’ll see some hidden gems and iconic landmarks as you go. Here’s a roundup of some of the absolute best companies to take you kayaking in London:
1. Back of Beyond Adventures
These adventurers offer an unmissable excursion for everyone in the British Capital. The Luxury Travel Guide award-winning Back of Beyond provides guided kayaking in London on the River Thames during the Summer months.
They offer two-and-a-half hours’ worth of self-guided and guided tours, and the ‘Grand Self-Guided Kayak Adventure’ which takes you down the River Lane in Richmond for five hours. Even if you haven’t been kayaking before, then this is a great option, as the staff will be on hand throughout to give you all the help and advice that you need.
They also organise ‘Kids Paddle Parties’ for groups of kids aged 8-17, with a minimum of six people in a group. Plus, they have two options for kids’ kayaking adventures; one in Richmond and the other in London. The London-based trip explores the Thames for almost two hours, while the hour-long excursion in Richmond will take you on an adventurous journey through dense woodland and past nearby islands that wouldn’t look out of place in the Swallows and Amazons.
You’ll find Back of Beyond Adventures at Petersham Drawdock, River Lane, Petersham, Richmond, Surrey. Nearest tube station is Richmond.
2. London Kayak Company
Ever been to Battersea? Then odds are you’ve spotted people kayaking in the boats of the London Kayak Company! One of the most famous operators for kayaking in London, they offer many options that will give you a different perspective of the capital.
You can take a one-way or 17-kilometre-long return trip between Greenwich and Battersea via ‘The Kayak Bus’ route, or you can go for a moonlit paddle onboard ‘The Night Paddle Kayak’ route. If you plan that excursion with your colleagues, they also organise ‘The Corporate ‘Bespoke Kayaking Trip’ – perfect for a work social we say! Other trips include the ‘Tower Bridge Return’ from Poplar to Tower Bridge, and the ‘Barrier and Back’, a to-and-fro trip between Greenwich all the way out to the Thames Barrier.
Only adults are allowed on board these trips, so this is probably one to do with your mates. The company provides you with all the protective gear, and they’ve also got waterproof cameras, so you don’t have to worry about capturing the views and can just focus on the kayaking instead.
You’ll find London Kayak Company at Qube Self Storage, Tunnel Avenue, SE10 0PA. Nearest station is North Greenwich.
3. Secret Adventures
If you have done kayaking in London before, you may have heard of Secret Adventures. Theirs are among the most famous kayaking excursions in and around London and offer daytime and nighttime tours. They also organise overnight camping trips to add even more fire to your experience on the water.
You can opt to move float around from London’s oldest canal in Limehouse to Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick – one of the best breweries in the city. Or, you can choose the three-hour-long daytime kayaking from Greenwich to Battersea, or a journey under a star-lit night sky in the opposite direction. Perfect for that date night you’ve been planning!
You’ll find Secret Adventures at the beach next to St. Mary’s Church, Battersea, SW11 3LX. Nearest station is Imperial Wharf.
One of the best water sports organisers in London, Active360, provides a beautiful trip through Central London along their main route that runs from Richmond to Hammersmith. Kids and people of all abilities are welcome to join in the fun, so this is a great one for all the family.
They based are at Kew Bridge on the Thames, in Paddington Basin by Little Venice on the Grand Union Canal, and at Brentford Lock too. Of these, their Brentford Lock centre is child and family-friendly, so you can be a beginner in kayaking and still get involved with a fun day out! Their Paddington trip takes you through some of the most picturesque parts of London on their two, three and full-day trips, and they even do SUP yoga and pilates on paddle boards too!
You’ll find Active360 at various different locations in London. You can find out more here.
5. The Pirate Castle
You can hire a kayak in London not only for fun but for charity too. You probably would have heard of The Pirate Castle. They provide excellent guided tours for charity and contribute 100% of their sales to give free boating adventures for children and vulnerable local community members. They take you from Camden Town to the London Zoo along Regent’s Canal and back again in 90 minutes.
Kids above 8 years of age are allowed on their trips, and this is a great day out for them as they’ll be able to spot the animals as they go!
You’ll find The Pirate Castle at Gilbey’s Wharf, Oval Road, NW1 7EA.
6. London Kayak Tours
The tours with London Kayak Tours are all qualified by the British Canoe Union. They run on three different routes; along the Regents Canal up to Camden Lock, on the Thames in Richmond, and out in Windsor in Berkshire. Their 90-minutes-long Regents Canal trip promises you a new, never-seen-before view of the city. They also take you through the ‘secret tunnel’ that was seen in the beloved James Bond movie Spectre.
Kids above the age of 9 years of age who can swim a bit are allowed on all their trips, but they will need to be accompanied by at least one adult.
You’ll find London Kayak Tours at various different locations in London. You can find out more here.
7. Moo Canoes Limited
The friendly team at Moo Canoes Limited will provide you with you kayaks at Limehouse Basin – an excellent spot to hire a kayak in London. Paddle your way up and down the canal and enjoy the views of the Thames as you go. Want something even better? Well you can even take your four-legged friends with you on board – what better day out for you and your pooch, hey?!
They’ve also got another site up in Hackney Wick with a floating bar-come-cafe, and they also do paddleboard and canoe rentals too.
You’ll find Moo Canoes at Limehouse Basin, 30 Pinnacle Way, E14 7JZ. Nearest station is Limehouse.
8. Whoosh Explore
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Central London, then look no further than Whoosh Explore. They’ll take you on scenic and guided kayaking trips down the River Stort – a lovely spot in the countryside bordering Essex and Hertfordshire. There are plenty of quaint pubs along the way, so this is a great one for weekends!
They’ll provide all the gear for the excursions, but they recommend you bring warm clothing and an extra pair of dry clothes for trips during the Winter months. Note that their paddling and kayaking sessions are for adults-only, but they do run taster sessions that suit kids and families too. They also run training sessions regularly for beginners.
You’ll find Whoosh Explore at 82 Rainsford Road, Mountfitchet, Stansted, CM24 8EA. Nearest station is Stansted Mountfichet.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best companies to take you kayaking in London. So if you’re looking to see the city from another angle, then grab your paddle and let’s go!