Kayaking in Virginia Beach

Kayaking in Virginia BeachFour single-person kayaks were lined up on the beach. Four paddles were stuck between the kayaks, a hard-to-miss beacon in the sand.

I slid into one of the kayaks easily, and a guide pushed me into the water. The boat glided along the water, disturbed only by the weight of this new apparatus that forced waves to ripple gently to each side. Though not a stranger to kayaking, the single-person kayak was new to me.

I dipped my paddle into the water and pulled back, propelling the boat forward.

I floated, slowed and stalled.

I dipped my paddle into the water on the other side and pulled back, propelling the boat forward.

I floated, slowed and stalled.

A single-person kayak is a one-man job. This was going to mean work.

The guides slid into their kayaks and pushed off from the shore, their pace matching mine and the other paddler’s. Slow, I imagine, for them, and a bit awkward and choppy for us. Matt, our lead guide, slowed his pace and asked us where we were from and what we were doing in Virginia Beach. I answered, juggling my responses with the need to rhythmically slide my paddle through the water, first on one side and then the other.

We paddled with the shore of First Landing State Park to our right. This is Virginia Beach’s most popular state park, but we were the only people in sight. On our left were a few scattered homes, their large windows looking out into the bay. And straight ahead the bay opened wider and wider, leading out into the ocean.

A breeze began to pick up as we paddled.

Right stroke. Left stroke. Right stroke. Left stroke.

We stopped at an oyster reef, and Matt explaineKayaking in Virginia Beachd why there was a need to reestablish the oyster population. Further on, we beached our kayaks and walked to a viewpoint in First Landing State Park that looked out over the bay. Our pace on land matched that in the water: leisurely, in sync and in the moment.

Crossing a bridge on the way back to the beach, Matt pointed out crabs scurrying along the sand. Near a marshy area, we stopped to listen to frogs croak and watch waterfowl duck below the surface for a meal.

After our short excursion, I sat again in the kayak, and Matt pushed the boat back into the water. He spoke with the other guide about where to go next as I practiced the skills I’d picked up in the last 45 minutes. I paddled in a slow circle, first going clockwise and then counter clockwise. The breeze pushed ripples across the water and the slice of my boat fought against the current.

With the wind now blowing from the bay inward, our guides decided we should head back instead of pushing forward. The current worked with us as I dipped my paddle in and started a slow, steady rhythm back toward the beach.

Right stroke. Left stroke. Right stroke. Left stroke.

Matt asked me about my travels. I answered, my paddle propelling me forward with minimal thought. He asked me about the Peace Corps. I smiled, knowing there was no easy answer. My paddle continued to slice through the water as I pushed the kayak forward.

First Landing State Park passed by on the left, now at a faster pace than before.

I slid the boat onto the shore, the grit of sand rubbing against the plastic as I came to a stop. I stepped out, my shoes slightly damp, and stretched, holding the oar above my head. My arms and chest, stiff and sore from the paddling, felt strong. I dug my feet into the sand, closed my eyes and felt the sun intermingling with the breeze against my cheeks and forehead. I had floated, slowed and stalled, and then I kept going, one paddle stroke after another, kayaking in Virginia Beach.

Guided kayaking tours are available through Chesapean Outdoors, a company owned by Matt Redford. Website | 757.961.0447

My kayaking experience in First Landing State Park was made possible by the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau but all opinions are my own.

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Kayaking in Virginia Beach
JoAnna is a globe-trotting, idea-inventing, culture-collecting creativity connoisseur with big dreams and a desire to touch all seven continents. You can also find JoAnna at joannahaugen.com and at The 52 Letters Project.

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5 Responses

  1. Anita Mac says:

    Love getting out and kayaking — something great about the water, the sun and the movement.

  2. Spencer says:

    I did this when I went to Virginia Beach in 2004! It was an awesome experience!

  3. Claire says:

    Laura and I went kayaking around Tybee Island, GA for a few hours last summer and we were sore for days! We had no idea it would be such hard work!

  4. JoAnna says:

    After I got the hang of it, I found it quite soothing, though I did get a bit of a blister on my thumb.

  5. JoAnna says:

    It is a great workout for abs and arms. You’d never know it while you’re paddling, but you can definitely feel it afterward!

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