Trying something new every year has been a family challenge now for the last few years. This summer having boys aged 11 and 13 years we are now at the stage that we can try more adventurous activities. We were in Arran on holiday and I thought it would be fun to take the boys on two half day sea kayaking sessions to learn some skills and explore the amazing coast line of Arran. So how easy is Sea Kayaking for a family?
Do you need experience to try Sea Kayaking?
No, you don’t and the best part of Sea Kayaking is how buoyant the kayaks are not like the small kayaks you get on the lakes or rivers which are designed for doing tricks and surfing waves. Sea Kayaks are designed for carrying lots of kit and being able to go camping and travel distances so small waves are not a problem and quite good fun. If the water is calm you can pick up speed quite quickly in a Sea Kayak.
Not being scared of the water is a must and I think having some element of fitness such as being able to ride a bike will help so you are used to the balance required. However, I do think if you’re up for trying new things paddling is a great way to get into more adventurous activities and I prefer it to skiing or mountain biking as being on the sea and close to nature is very special.
They have two-seater kayaks as well so during our first session I was at the back and my 11-year-old was at the front. We had choppy sea so as a parent I was happy that we were in a bigger kayak and I could keep an eye on my son. The 13-year-old loved having the freedom of his own kayak and took it up so quickly. During the second session my 11-year-old had his own kayak and ended up being the fastest on the water which surprised me and I had not expected him to pick up the skill so quickly and feel so confident on water.
What did we enjoy most about Sea Kayaking?
It has to be the wildlife as this part of Arran has so much to offer and on both trips, we saw plenty of seals. We also loved bird watching and there is a cheeky otter that lives next to a stream going into the sea. The visibility is fantastic off the shores of Arran so we saw crabs, starfish and one of them was as big as a football. Being able to paddle over to Holy Island on the second trip as the water was so calm was really special and considering the small boats are £15 each, we felt this was a bonus. The Island had horses, goats and a lovely retreat garden we could explore on our break. I do feel this bay is one of the most magical on the Island and of course at the end of the trip we decided to jump off the pier as it was high tide and lots of other families had come down especially to run and jump, dive and go crabbing of the pier as it’s a favourite spot for many.
Dolphins and porpoise have been seen in these parts and on a walk the day before we saw two porpoises so next time, we may be lucky to kayak next to them in the sea.
Skills we learnt Sea Kayaking in Arran?
I loved the fact that as we paddled our instructor was giving us tips and teaching us strokes. At the end of the session we all got a go of a capsize drill (well if you wanted to) and how you could exit your kayak, use the instructor’s kayak to pull yourself back over or even exit and turn your kayak back over by yourself. The design of the kayaks means you can actually climb back in and still paddle not like the river kayaks.
Who did we use to try Sea Kayaking in Arran?
The company Otterstail we used has just set up on the island of Arran and have a small office in Lamlash a few miles away from Brodick. They are based at the pier and have changing rooms and hot showers and a safe place for your things. We love the café also at the pier as the food is all home made and so many cakes to choose from. The instructors Andy and Elinor were fantastic and very experienced. They had a wonderful friendly manner and just made learning so easy we didn’t realise.
and to get a flavour of what Otterstail do, check out this video:
Sea Kayaking in Arran – Half Day
- Adult: £50
- Child, 8-18 years: £35
- Private booking (up to six people): £200
What’s next for us?
Otterstail offer Gorge Walking so we could try that! We loved the sessions so much and will book again and as the boys get bigger, I would really like to book a couple of days where we can use the sea kayaks to their max and put camping equipment in the dry holds of the kayaks and actually do a mini expedition around the Island. It takes 5 days in total to get round the Island so we would only do a section but the boys like adventure so what an amazing way to stay on part of the Island you can only get to by sea or walking.
If you want to check out Katy and families other adventures why not read:
Paddle boarding with Kids
How to learn to sail with kids
Family Skiing | Booking a Private Ski Instructor for all the Family