Enjoy breathtaking views of the city as you work on your arm muscles on a half-day tour with Sea Kayak Australia. The tours, which involve about two hours on the water, are suitable for amateurs and the non-athletic.
The panoramic views of the city and St Kilda endured for the entire tour. Photos courtesy of Tom McClelland, Sea Kayak Australia tour guide.
I attended the St Kilda tour on a chilly Saturday morning. First, we put on kayaking gear, which comprised of a waterproof jacket, a life vest, and a strange looking skirt which attaches to the kayak to prevent water from getting in. It gets quite hot under all that gear, so it is advisable to dress lightly. Once you're in the kayak, you can't take off the jumper, you're wearing underneath three layers of bulky kayaking apparel. Sun protection is paramount, with sunscreen, sunglasses and hats recommended.
There was minimal instruction time at the start - we paired up within about a minute of heading down to the sand. We pushed our kayaks off the beach, into water which was relatively still that day - perfect paddling conditions.
Once we got out onto the water, it was easy to pick up the tour guide's instructions on how to paddle and turn (paddle right to go left, left to go right). Our first, and possibly only, challenge was manoeuvring through the yachts which bobbed in the water near our starting point. Other than that, there was plenty of room, so we didn't have to worry about the wind diverting our course too much.
Instead, there was plenty of time to consider the views of St Kilda and the city from our sea vantage point. About an hour of paddling later, we stopped on the beach for a break and a snack. Then, we were off on our way again, kayaking back to the start. While I expected the way back to be nothing new, the different perspective on the cityscape as we approached it from the opposite direction provided plenty to look at.
A piece of advice I must offer is make sure to choose a kayaking partner pulls their weight. My kayaking partner kept putting her paddle down, leaving me to paddle away as we lagged behind the group. Unless you are endurant enough to paddle for two, try to be in a kayak with someone who looks fit! It's also important to bring a bottle of water. Kayaking is thirsty work, and it would be very frustrating to be surrounded by water too salty to consume upon forgetting to bring your own.
I anticipated having sore arms the next day - but, to my surprise, it wasn't too bad. However I did get sore hands from holding onto the paddle. Others in the tour group who had more experience in kayaking had the foresight to wear gloves.
Sea Kayak Australia also runs Half-Day Tours in Williamstown, Victoria Harbour, the Docklands, and the Yarra River. Pricing ranges from $55 to $85, or $95 for the St Kilda Republica Tour, which includes lunch at the beachside Republica restaurant. If you're looking to learn how to kayak rather than a few hours of sightseeing, they have an extensive range of courses for all abilities.