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Day Trip from London – Kayaking with seals


Last year I really enjoyed canoeing on the Thames and kayaking on the River Medway, so this year I decided I would like to do more paddling. Luckily there are lots of opportunities for kayak and canoe adventures in the UK. Rivers, lakes, canals, lochs and the sea make it possible to have different types of paddling experiences. During my research, I came across Nomad Sea Kayaking. I loved the company from the very beginning. Their website is very clear and well made with descriptions and reviews of each tour. They offer different types of kayak adventures all over the UK. They have a wide variety of kayaking trips and even courses for beginners. On their website, they encourage beach cleanups while on their trips and suggest different types of eco-friendly products to use on outdoor adventures!
I was particularly interested in the Eco Seal Colony tour, as it not only gives the chance to enjoy kayaking but also to see seals in their natural habitat. It is also a great day trip from London as the starting point for this trip is easily accessible by train from London, which was crucial for us, as we don’t own a car.
I am very much a beginner when it comes to kayaking and so it is important to me that I am in safe hands while out in the water. I know weather can change quickly, so I would never venture out by myself to the sea. Our guide Kurt, was very professional and I felt completely safe during our trip. He paid close attention to the wind and tide on the trip.

Meeting Point: Launch time varies, depending on the tide. We were happy that on the day we went it was at 1 pm, which gave us plenty of time to get to Harwich from London by train. In fact, we arrived early, so we could explore Dovercourt beach with its cute beach huts. It is a 30 minutes leisurely walk along the beach to get to the meeting point from Dovercourt train station, or you can also take the bus. If you arrive by car West End Lane Car Park offers free parking. It is advised to arrive an hour before the launch time to give you enough time to settle in your kayak, listen to the safety instructions and ask any questions you might have.

Our group: We had one instructor, Kurt and 8 kayakers in our group with different skill sets. Mostly beginners, but we also had a very experienced kayaker with us, who is a member at Nomad Sea Kayaking, has his own equipment and went on lots of trips with Kurt before.

Equipment provided: Nomad Sea Kayaking will provide you with all the essentials. We were given very stable sit-on-top kayaks, buoyancy aids and paddles. There is also a possibility to bring your own kayak if you discuss this beforehand with Kurt and you are already an experienced paddler.

What to pack: It is only a day trip, so you won’t need to pack really different things, than when you head out from home. Just use common sense! Sun cream and a hat if it’s sunny, packed lunch, energy bars and plenty of water to keep you going and camera to take awesome pictures. As for what to wear, you will need lightweight clothing that dries quickly. Merino wool and synthetic materials are great for any outdoor adventure. I also wore a raincoat and rain trousers to prevent me from getting wet, as you are bound to do so when you are paddling. Wet boots are great if you have them if not just an old pair of trainers will do. I also suggest bringing a change of clothes for after the trip, as it won’t be nice to sit in wet clothes on your ride home, particularly if you have a long commute ahead! The kayaks have plenty of storage, so you can keep them there in a dry bag during your kayaking adventure!

The Route: The trip covers 7 nautical miles. You will need to be quite fit to keep up with the group. Although the tide will be in your favour most of the way, it will still be hard work. Kurt made sure to always wait for the back of the pack when we spread out and he gave us good advice about how to paddle and keep the wind behind us. He is not only an excellent sea kayaker but also a wildlife and nature enthusiast. He explained to us about the seal colony and how to behave around them before we entered to their territory. It was such a unique experience to see them pop their heads up from the water and stare at us. We kept quiet and waited for them to approach us. As time passed they popped their heads up closer and closer often behind the kayaks. We spent about 10-15 minutes in the estuary when Kurt gave the sign to head off. While still thinking of this incredible experience we paddled towards Stone Point. We passed some barges that are protecting the Hamford Water National Nature Reserve. In about 40 minutes we arrived to Stone Point, where we had a break. It was around 4 pm at the time, perfect for a snack and toilet stop. We spent some time chatting about adventures, nature and wildlife. As we enjoyed the scenery the wind has picked up and Kurt suggested we head back as it was blowing in the right direction. I think we all appreciated this, as it made our paddle much easier on the way back. Once I got a hang of how to keep the wind behind me I really enjoyed that the waves and wind were pushing me back to our starting point. As we landed one of our group members threw up on the scene from seasickness. To avoid this I suggest taking motion sickness tablets if you get sick on choppy waters. The trip took us about 5 hours. We said goodbye to the group and Kurt and walked back to the train station.

We had an awesome time. If you like adventure, wildlife and nature and you are looking for day trips from London I would highly suggest this one. However, it is not for everyone! You will need a good attitude, a sense of humour and decent fitness level! If you don’t go kayaking very often like me you can expect some sore muscles the next day! But all the effort is worth it for seeing the seals and the incredible beaches and nature that surrounded us!

Price: The trip costs £89.99 per person, which includes equipment and the professional guidance of Kurt.

I can’t wait to do more kayaking this spring and summer. I enjoyed this trip so much that we are booked for a wild camping kayak trip in Dorset at the end of June with the same company. Hopefully, this will be enough practice for our upcoming trip to Croatia in August where we will spend one-week exploring islands and the coastline by kayaks!

How about you? Have you ever tried kayaking? Does this trip sound appealing to you?

Note: We were guest of Nomad Sea Kayaking, but as always all opinion is my own!

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  1. Taylor Taverna
    April 18, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    This sounds like such an incredible experience! I only visited London once in winter and I definitely need to go back and do this tour! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Carly
    April 18, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    It’s so amazing that you can be standing in the middle of a huge metropolis one minute, and then within an hour or two you can be floating in the water surrounded by animals in their natural habitat! You’ve made me think of London as an eco-tourism destination for the first time!

  3. Margarita
    April 18, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    This sounds like exactly my kind of trip! I saw the seals from the taller whale watching boats, but would love to see them from the low level of the kayak. I love how you talk about them popping out of the water closer and closer to your kayaks.

  4. Kristina
    April 19, 2018 at 12:33 am

    I’m not sure I’m fit enough to keep up with these row! But I bet it was an amazing experience to kayak next to the seals. Looks like a lot of fun!

  5. Lavieenmarine
    April 19, 2018 at 1:24 am

    What a wonderful experience! I love seals and being this close to them must be so amazing ?

  6. Sophie
    April 19, 2018 at 3:30 am

    My fiance is always very nervous in water, but this definitely sounds like a doable trip and something I would love to do! Love connecting with wildlife and nature when I travel 🙂

  7. Christina
    April 19, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    This sounds like a great option to escape the busy London streets/ I would not have thought that there were seals that close to London. We have gone kayaking two times. One time in the open ocean and one time on a a lake. We enjoyed the lake more since the water was much calmer. We do want to go again sometime soon. I think it is great that they include nature viewing while on the trip.

  8. nicky
    April 19, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Kayaking with Seals in England!! I didnt realise that was even an option. I bet it was a bit chilly out on those waters!

  9. UK Seaside - Possibly My Next Summer Destination
    April 19, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    […] eat specific foods, meet locals, enjoy the British spirit. One of the best options would be to go kayaking with the seals on a day trip from London. I haven’t told you yet, but I do love kayaking. I’ve done it in Greece, Turkey and […]

  10. Angela
    April 20, 2018 at 2:46 am

    I’ve tried kayaking several times. but haven’t tried it to london. looks like you had fun. great post!

  11. Lauren Pears
    April 20, 2018 at 5:59 am

    I didn’t know you could kayak with seals in England- and I’m from England! Definitely going to do this in the summer. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Susanna
    April 21, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    They are so cute! I love how they peek out and look at you!I made the mistake of going sea kayking before I was experienced and in bad weather. We had a terrible guide, so they can really make it or break it, I think. Sounds like you were in good hands and that this was a great day trip from London. I would love to give it a go.

  13. Joy Sheehan
    April 21, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    This looks like such a cool experience! I went stand up paddleboarding once and a giant sea lion popped up outta nowhere! It was amazing!

  14. The 4 best kayaking and canoeing adventures near London | Travel Hacker Girl - A blog for travellers.
    May 16, 2018 at 10:42 am

    […] would have thought that you can be in busy London in one moment and after a train ride, you can be paddling in the sea among with seals? This trip is really unique. I loved seeing the seals popping up their head from the water and […]

  15. THINGS TO DO IN LONDON ON YOUR OWN | From East to West | Detailed Travel Guides
    May 24, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    […] Kayaking With Seals day trip […]

  16. Wild camping kayak trip in Dorset | Travel Hacker Girl - A blog for travellers.
    July 9, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    […] previously went on an eco-seal colony kayak trip with Nomad Sea Kayaking, which I really enjoyed, so I knew I was in the right hands on this […]

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