Summer water sports are one of the most surefire ways to pass those lazy, hot days while getting in a little exercise – or just some adventure – too.
During the dog days of summer, there’s nothing better than a cool dip into the water, even if it only happens when you fall off a paddleboard. To get you fired up for the impending heatwave, we’ve gathered some inspiration in the form of nine different water sports to add to your summer bucket list this year. Which will you try first?
9 Water sports to try this summer
Kayaking is one of the most popular water sports of all, and with good reason. These personal watercraft are easy to maneuver, relatively lightweight, readily available and fun enough for even the most grinch-like outdoorswoman to appreciate.
If you’re a novice, hop into a recreational boat for easy control and great stability. Kayaks appeal to a wide range of people because of their versatility. No matter the type of water – winding creek, whitewater rapids or open ocean – there’s a kayak fit for the job.
Because they’re compact and stable, they often allow their paddlers access to otherwise inaccessible pockets of nature, making them the ticket into beautiful scenic spots reserved strictly for those who seek them out.
Kayaking is certainly a water sport in its own right, but it also opens the door to many other activities, from fishing to camping and hiking in remote areas, to racing and whitewater paddling.
If kayaks are the sports cars of the water, canoes are surely the comfortable family sedans. That’s not to say, of course, that canoes can’t be sleek and exciting. In general, canoes are much heavier than kayaks, which in turn, makes them much more stable. With a kayak, the paddler essentially “wears” the boat, sitting in or on a cockpit designed to fit themselves and not much else. Because of this, a kayak can be difficult to access for people with limited mobility, or who are nervous taking to the water. A canoe’s open hull is less intimidating and more stable for beginners and casual users.
Additionally, many canoes allow for two paddlers to power the boat at once, making it a more efficient option for couples, friends or groups. Another key difference is that kayak paddles are typically double-sided, whereas canoe paddles are usually one-sided. One-sided paddles are usually lighter, and create less wind resistance on the exposed end than double-sided ones.
Canoes are one of the most recognizable boats in the world. The general concept of the canoe’s design has been around for centuries, thanks to its usefulness, stability and speed. If you’re looking for a leisurely day on the water, perhaps with a friend or family member, you can’t go wrong by hopping into a canoe and paddling out for an adventure.
If you’re anywhere near a beach this summer, you’re one of the lucky few who will have the opportunity to go for a surf. Beyond its intrinsic value: plain old fun, surfing offers an intense full-body workout, and rewards those who do it with a thrill unlike any other.
Surfing has a reputation for having a harsh learning curve, and it’s a valid one. When learning to surf, standing up for the first time is a rite of passage in itself, so this isn’t a sport to dive into if you’re hoping to immediately master it.
The sport of surfing combines a knowledge of the ocean, its waves, a keen sense of timing, and cooperation with those around you. It’s a great sport to learn with a friend who already knows the ropes, to help with the fundamentals, but also with moral support.
If you get a chance to hop on a board and shred the gnar, don’t miss it – you might even get rewarded with a dolphin sighting!
Stand-up paddleboarding, also known simply as paddleboarding or “supping,” has become increasingly popular in the past decade. The sport combines the balance and attention of surfing, with the freedom and added power of a canoe-style paddle.
Much like kayaks and canoes, paddleboards allow users to access parts of nature that can’t be reached on foot. Even if it’s not a scenic mission you’re on, zipping along on a paddleboard is a great workout and balance activity that just about anyone can take on. While serious paddleboarders abound, the boards can also be rented at just about any popular body of water, and used by people with all levels of experience.
If you’re really serious about paddleboarding and want to get all your friends on board, you can also do that – with the right equipment.
5. Jet Skiing
Nothing says summer quite like a ride on a jet ski. It’s a quintessential water activity, whether you spend your days on a lake, ocean, river, or mysterious other body of water.
These zippy water-mobiles are fast, fun, and easy to drive for just about anyone. Plenty of water-lovers own both a jet ski and a larger boat for water activities, but for people who don’t want the trouble of a full-sized boat can find many of the thrills in the smaller size of a jet ski.
Depending on their power, some jet skis can pull skiers and innertubes, extending the fun past just the driver and passenger. While these little watercraft are an adventure waiting to happen, be sure to fully understand its handling and power before taking one out yourself.
The sport of sailing has been around for as long as boats have been around, with the first Olympic sailing race taking place in 1896.
Sailing opens up a connection to the water unlike any other, allowing you to become one with the earth around you in a beautiful, peaceful setting (most of the time.) Sailboats come in a multitude of types and sizes, but for those just looking to get their feet wet (both literally and figuratively, as smaller vessels sit very close to the water,) a lightweight, one- or two-person sized sailboat could be just the ticket.
You shouldn’t set out alone your first time on a sailboat. While much of its operation is intuitive, following the wind direction and water conditions, there are lots of considerations to be mindful of during every trip. Consider setting out with a sailor friend before deciding whether a sailboat is the right option for you. Before you know it, you may have fallen in love with the sailing life and ready to let the wind take the lead.
Kiteboarding – or kitesurfing, if you’re in the know – holds a reputation for being a sport reserved for backpackers living in hostels and soaking up the sun. While this is a big part of the kiteboarding culture, it’s a sport that anyone can take part in with a little guidance.
Sometimes, kiteboarding is confused with parasailing, as they both involve a parachute and open water. However, kiteboarding relies on the wind to carry the rider on a board similar to a surfboard, whereas parasailing uses the power of a boat to pull the rider up before letting the wind take over.
Kiteboarding isn’t inherently difficult, but having a general level of fitness, and using an instructor for your first few times out will be fruitful. Unlike surfing, kiteboarding doesn’t require waves, and can be done anywhere there’s a simple combination: water and wind.
If you’re feeling tired of all the “typical” water sports, why not try your hand at hydroflying? Typically, hydroflying is done on a single piece of equipment called a Flyboard. A Flyboard is a specific brand of “hydroflighting device;” a jetpack of sorts. Really!
While it looks impressive as an onlooker, the good news is that hydroflying is actually quite easy. A few minutes in the water wearing the board, and you’ll be flying above the water. While it’s not likely you’ll want to take up hydroflying full time, (popular models cost around $7000,) it’s a great thrill to try once or twice, and certainly a bucket list item not to be missed.
Parasailing is, arguably, the easiest “sport” on this list. Being lifted up in a parasail is an indulgently pleasant experience that combines the speed of a motorboat with the power of the wind, working together to lift riders up to great heights, incredible scenery and unmatched peace.
Within some weight and height restrictions, just about anyone can participate in parasailing, as it’s a hands-off adventure that relies on the boat captain to do most of the work.
Of course, if you’re not a fan of heights, this may not be the adventure for you this summer. With some parasail trips taking passengers up to 500 feet above the water, it’s not for the faint of heart. However, if you’re looking for an adventure that’s both thrilling and peaceful, you can’t go wrong with a parasailing trip.
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