Looking for the best places to go kayaking in Sydney? Whether you’re a kayaking pro or you’ve never done it before, discover more places to visit in Sydney by paddling your way to secret beaches, hidden spots and new places with your friends, family or even a date too.
In this article we’re going to break it down and share places you can rent a kayak from and head off on your own adventure. There are also a few tours mentioned in this post so you can join a group instead if you like. We’ll also share some awesome day trip ideas from Sydney so you can find new ways to kayak in Sydney and nearby too.
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What makes kayaking in Sydney special?
Sydney is surrounded by water so if you are looking to explore all it has to offer, you need to get on the water! Kayaking is an awesome way to discover secluded beaches only accessible by kayak or boat, incredible views and a unique perspective you just can’t get on-land. Paddle your way to a classic Australian adventure, toned arms and feel-good endorphins!
Let’s start with the basics – different types of kayaks
As with most sports, there is a huge range of gear from beginner to specialised. We will cover the basic types you can find at most kayak rental shops to help you choose the best for you.
Sit on kayaks have a sealed hull which means your legs and torso are open to getting wet. This kayak is easy to get on and off and would be great if you are fancying a swim or you are new to paddling. They are generally available as single and double kayaks.
Sit-in kayaks have an open hull so the paddler’s legs are enclosed in the cockpit. They are harder to enter and exit, especially if you capsize in the water. However, they generally have more stability than a sit-on kayak as they have a lower centre of gravity. They are usually available as single and double kayak hires.
A note on double kayaks: the paddler with the best coordination or sense of direction should be positioned at the back of the kayak to synchronise the steering with the paddler in front. This can cause arguments between friends but if you are like me, you will swallow your pride and sit in the front (pssst, it’s an easier job!).
A sea kayak is sit-in only and comes with a rudder which you control with your feet to help you steer and track straight. This would suit you if you are planning a longer kayaking adventure, however not all rental kayaks will offer this type.
Places to kayak in Sydney
1. Sunrise kayak with Sydney By Kayak is a must!
Sydney By Kayak offers everything from kayak hire, lessons, corporate groups and tours. We would absolutely recommend the sunrise kayak tours for a unique and incredible Sydney Harbour adventure costing $155 per person (at the time of writing).
When we jumped on the tour, it started at 6 am from the North Harbour in Lavender Bay. We were met with a coffee order, lifejacket and sit-in kayak ready to go! Please note there are no toilet blocks so come dressed and ready to go.
The guides led the group paddle to the Sydney Harbour Bridge in time for sunrise and even on an overcast day it is a spectacular view as the bridge towers above you. After a short photo shoot, the guides lead the group on a paddle tour into Berrys Bay and were full of interesting facts on Sydney Harbour history and the Living Seawalls Project which is aiding new sea life into the harbour.
This kayaking in Sydney tour is a wonderful way to start your day and also is one of the most popular date ideas in Sydney as well!
2. Kayak to a secret cove on Sydney Harbour’s Goat Island
Not an early riser but want to see the best of Sydney Harbour by kayak? Jump on this kayaking tour to Goat Island led by a Sydney local who will show you some hidden gems right on the harbour!
3. Self-guided Middle Harbour kayaking adventure!
Explore Sydney’s Middle Harbour in Mosman on a fun self-guided adventure! Bring your friends and enjoy doing something a little different in Sydney by exploring pristine secluded beaches, and much more. You’ll be given all of the equipment as well as loads of different options to explore this beautiful part of Sydney! Find out more about this affordable Sydney kayaking adventure.
4. Explore Rose Bay to Shark Island
For an unbeatable view of Sydney Opera house and Sydney Harbour Bridge; you can pack a picnic lunch, hire a kayak from Rose Bay Aquatic Hire right on the beach from $25 an hour and paddle to Shark Island. The paddle there and back is fairly smooth but the route gets very busy on weekends and public holidays as you join paddle boarders, windsurfers and boaters enjoying this stunning view.
The island has a toilet block, water tap and picnic tables for comfort but no public BBQ. Make sure you set aside a few hours to enjoy a paddle, lunch and maybe explore the beaches along Vaucluse on your route back.
5. Paddle out to see the famous penguins in Manly
As soon as you get into Manly Wharf, you can hire (from $25) or book a tour from Manly Kayak Centre next door and head out to discover the hidden beaches along Manly cove or the northern beaches.
The waters are calm and stunning all year round, but if you are there between May and February then head to Store Beach to spot the cutest colony of fairy penguins. This beach is only accessible by kayak or boat so is one of the many reasons kayaking in Sydney is next on your adventure list! If you’re looking for more things to do in Manly, check out our guide below!
If you love chilling on calm and transparent waters, then Balmoral Beach is the one for you! You can hire a kayak from The Boatshed directly on the water and either head out towards Spit Bridge and check out Chinamans Beach or, make your way around Middle Head and catch a glimpse of Sydney Harbour.
Once done, you can return your kayak to The Boatshed and refuel upstairs at The Boathouse on the water and toast to getting into kayaking in Sydney!
7. Paddle around Port Hacking from Bundeena
If BBQ’s and stunning views are your thing, head just south of Cronulla to Bundeena and pull up at Bonnie Vale picnic area. This area caters for all; rent a kayak from $25 at Bundeena Kayaks and either paddle the pristine waters of Port Hacking or head into the bush river in Cabbage Tree Basin.
It is a great area for fishing, sunbathing on hidden beaches or bushwalking some of the Royal National Park. They even offer a kayak tour if you wanted a guide to show you all the best spots. What more could you want? Answer: Nothing.
8. Discover the secret gem of the Woronora River
Now, Woronora River is a place I would definitely recommend for a relaxing morning kayak, mainly because you can rent your kayak from The Boatshed which does incredible Breakfast platters.
If you are planning to kayak on the weekend, definitely book your hire and table ahead as it’s a popular spot in Sutherland Shire. The staff are incredibly friendly and will help you into your kayak from the Boatshed decking.
Once on the water, if you turn right you can head through the winding shallow waters of Loftus Creek or turn left to make your way into the Woronora River which is 36km long!
9. Kayak in the world’s oldest national park: Royal National Park
The historic Audley Boatshed in The Royal National Park has been running since 1893 and is the perfect place for a nature lover! Kayaking is the gateway to exploring the impressive natural wonderland of untouched thick forest, bushland, wildlife and birdlife.
Paddle your way along the tide free Hacking River or Kangaroo creek to experience the tranquillity of kayaking in the Royal National park and you will be thankful you decided to take up kayaking in Sydney. If you’d like to combine a hike in your day trip, make sure you check out our best walks in the Royal National Park guide!
11. Discover the Hawkesbury River and Dangar island
If you don’t mind travelling for a little while, kayak the Hawkesbury River as it’s well worth the 62Km trip – think kayaking and fresh oysters! Hawkesbury River Kayaks are the place to go for rentals or kayak tours and they even have a BnB to stay in, accessible only by kayak!
You could spend a whole week here with so much to explore from circumnavigating Dangar island, Jerusalem Bay, the infinity pool in refuge bay, a shipwreck and a waterfall in Cascade Gully to name a few.
This stunning area is a natural wonder, mostly untouched and steeped in Aboriginal history. Paddle up and tie your kayak at Hawkesbury River Oyster Shed for an excellent lunch stop and views. If you’re not been on the Riverboat Postman Cruise in the Hawkesbury River yet, check our guide below!
Running through Penrith, the 100Km Nepean River starts from the Southern Highlands to Hawkesbury River and is a tide-free and calm route for kayaking in Sydney. Rent from Horizon Line from only $15 and spend the day gliding along the river looking for wildlife only found in Australia.
Looking for kayaking near Sydney? Check these out
13. Kayak in Jervis Bay’s turquoise waters
Known for its white sandy beaches and turquoise sea, Jervis Bay is one of the most tranquil kayaking spots you can find. The waters are so crystal clear, you will be able to see marine life without leaving your kayak! Check our popular Jervis Bay guide for more activities to bring you to this special part of NSW.
The Southern Highlands is known for its beautiful green rolling hills, rainforests, and waterfalls so what better way to explore this than from a kayak. Kangaroo Valley Canoes offers rentals and multi-day camping kayak tours and is one of the most popular things to do in Kangaroo Valley!
We’ve got heaps of guides for the Southern Highlands, you might like to check out the following:
15. Go on the oyster farm trail around Batemans Bay
For one of the best kayaking adventures I have ever had, head to Batemans Bay on the Eurobodalla coast for an oyster kayak tour with an award-winning local company, RegionX.
Paddle around 4th generation family oyster farms, learn how to shuck an oyster and taste the freshest oysters you can, taken from the river that day. It really is one of the best things to do in Batemans Bay.
16. Nelson Bay
Situated in Port Stephens, Nelsons Bay is known for its resident dolphins and is a great whale watching spot. Kayaking in Nelsons Bay could bring you into close contact with dolphins, sea turtles and birds of prey which you could not get on dry land! For the best chance, book a tour with Paddle Port Stephens.
The Myall Lakes National Park is one of the largest natural coastal lakes in NSW and its idyllic waters make it a must-see on your kayak adventure list.
Adventure Activities Outdoors are committed to promoting an understanding of the environmental conservation and sustainable practices in the region and can guide you around the reaching, teach you about kayak fishing or tailor a tour to suit you!