I’ve never really been one for outdoor sports, least of all water sports (in fact, me and sport just don’t really mix at all)! I spent three months in Negril, Jamaica and went to the world-famous Rick’s Cafe countless numbers of times, but I never once dived off a cliff (a popular pastime over there and at Rick’s Cafe, in particular), although I was brave enough to jump off a rope swing into a waterfall. So, when I signed up for a kayaking and snorkelling session in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal with Kayak Adventures (from €40), I was feeling pretty daring.
Meeting our guide
I attended the session with my friend, Antonia, who I met whilst staying at the nearby Big Chill Hostel. We met our instructor at the Kayak Adventures kiosk at around 1.10pm, 20 minutes before the session was about to start. Here, we were given life jackets and a sealed, waterproof bag to keep our valuables dry. At first, we were concerned about how secure this bag would be, but it was actually near impossible for any water to get in.
At 1.30pm, we went to meet the rest of our group on the beach of Cais do Solario, next to Praia da Batata beach and a 16th century fort, Forte da Ponte da Bandeira. In front of the fort, there is an old drawbridge and a ship’s anchor. Coming from the fort, Kayak Adventures is the second company, with a closed trailer bearing the Kayak Adventures logo, a Portuguese flag and lots of yellow kayaks.
Smothered in sunscreen and holding our paddles, we stood in front of our guide and listened to his safety instructions and advice for developing a good kayaking technique. Then, we carried our kayak down to the sea and carefully got into it. The most experienced kayaker should sit at the back because they’ll be responsible for the steering, so I got it into the front seat and my friend, Antonia got into the back as she’d already been kayaking once before.
At first, I felt scared being in the kayak. Every time a bigger boat went past us it would send ripples through the waves, causing our kayak to bob up and down. I was worried that the kayak might turn upside down and that we’d have to clamber back into it, but I think I was being too paranoid. After hearing my shrieks and yelps, the support boat that was following our group sailed over to us, and the skipper reassured me that everything would be fine. He did a really great job of making me feel at ease and from here on, it was plain sailing (sorry – couldn’t resist!)
Ponta da Piedade
We continued to paddle along the most stunning section of Lagos’s coastline, known as Ponta da Piedade; a collection of rock formations featuring caves, grottos and sea arches developed by nature over thousands of years. As Kayak Adventures have been operating for 11 years, the guides know exactly where to take you to see the best caves and grottos, including some that resemble animals and objects, such as King Kong and a wedding cake.
After paddling for around 45 minutes, we reached a small, isolated beach known as Praia Grande. It was here that we decided to stop off for half an hour of snorkelling. Kayak Adventures supply a complimentary snorkel kit, although it doesn’t include flippers (but these aren’t completely essential). I’ve never gone snorkelling before, but after testing out the kit a few times to make sure it was completely watertight, I took to it like a duck to water. I had so much fun, the time flew by. I’ve since invested in my own snorkel kit, and it’s always one of the first things that goes into my suitcase when I’m travelling somewhere hot and sunny. I even took it with me when I spent Christmas in the Algarve last year, although I think I was being a bit too optimistic – I would’ve needed a dry suit to go snorkelling, as the water was freezing!
Unfortunately, the quality of my photos isn’t up to much as I was only using a single use Fujifilm waterproof camera, but my friend, Delia managed to get a few videos on her waterproof camera, including this one.
After a spot of snorkelling, we could either paddle back to the beach in our kayaks or get into the skipper’s boat. After being out in the hot sun for so long, my head was pounding and I was feeling rather tired, so I caught a lift back with the skipper. It was a good job that I wore a hat and took plenty of water and sunscreen with me, as is recommended for this tour.
Antonia and I really enjoyed our kayaking and snorkelling tour in Lagos, Portugal with Kayak Adventures. One of the advantages of kayaking is that it enables you to explore areas that would be otherwise difficult to access. In our small kayak, we were able to see every inch of the caves, grottos and archways that make up the Ponta da Piedade coastline.
That said, kayaking is hard work in the hot Portuguese sun. I wouldn’t let this put me off doing it again in future, but it’s important to bring lots of water, a hat and some sunscreen, and remember to get a bite to eat beforehand as you’ll be in the water for around three hours.
Now that I’ve got into snorkelling, I’d love to learn how to scuba dive. It’s an expensive hobby, so it’s important to shop around to make sure you get the best prices for training courses and diving equipment. I’m no expert, but the prices on Simply Scuba are fairly reasonable in comparison to what I’ve seen elsewhere.
How to book
You can book a kayaking and snorkelling tour with Kayak Adventures from their website, from their kiosk on the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, or from Bom Dia Sailing Cruises in Lagos Marina (next to the yellow kayak on the wall). At the time of writing, tours are priced from €29 and have now finished for the winter, recommencing in March 2018.
Avenida dos Descobrimentos
Cais da Solaria
Clube de Vela de Lagos
Loja 1, 8600
+351 913 262 200
Have you ever been kayaking or snorkelling before? What’s your favourite water sport?