10 Most Breathtaking Kayak Routes Through Caverns and Under Cliffs | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Experiencing hidden natural wonders is possible through kayak routes.
  • Routes offer unique geological and historical features to explore.
  • Trustworthy insights provided on breathtaking kayak expeditions.

Ever paddled through a stone archway or glided past ancient stalactites?

Imagine experiencing this surrounded by nature's majesty.

Kayaking through caverns and under cliffs isn't just a paddle; it's an expedition into Earth's hidden wonders.

You're in for a treat, as we'll guide you through routes that aren't just spectacular—they're dripping with intrigue, begging to be explored.

Trust us, as we reveal secrets of the deep, from echoey chambers under the Apostle Islands to the mysterious sea caves of Channel Islands National Park, each route promises a story worth telling and a view worth the journey.

Table of contents


Apostle Islands Sea Caves (Wisconsin)

Ever dreamed of kayaking through nature’s own artwork?

Welcome to the Apostle Islands, where the sea caves are a paddle stroke away from taking your breath away.

Imagine gliding along the crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior, as you weave through towering sandstone formations.

The Apostle Islands, a cluster of 21 islands, serve as a hidden gem for kayakers like you seeking the thrill of exploration.

Why are these caves so mesmerizing?

  • Unique Sandstone Formations: The cliffs and caves boast intricate sandstone patterns, sculpted naturally by the waves and wind.
  • Year-Round Beauty: Whether adorned with shimmering icicles in winter or basking under the summer sun, these caves are a year-round spectacle.

Choosing Your Adventure:

  • Devil’s Island: For the gold standard in sea caves, set your compass to Devil’s Island. Here, the caves are plentiful and awe-inspiring. Just be ready for a bit of a journey, as they're not typically part of a kayaking day trip.
  • Other Notable Islands: Not up for the trek to Devil’s Island? No problem. The sea caves at Sand Island and the mainland near Meyers Beach also deliver on scenic beauty.

Safety Tips:

  • Check conditions: Always stay updated with the latest weather and ice reports before heading out.
  • Wear your life jacket: Keep safety as your trusty companion on this aquatic adventure.

So, are you ready to embark on a kayaking quest full of natural wonder?

The Apostle Islands Sea Caves await your paddle and spirit of adventure!

Just don’t forget your camera – these are sights you'll definitely want to relive and share.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Michigan)

Have you ever paddled through a watercolored canvas of towering cliffs and sprawling sea caves?


Well, your kayak awaits at Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!

Imagine gliding over crystal-clear waters while gazing up at multi-colored rock formations; it's an artist's palette come to life.

  1. Where to start? Try these highlights:
  1. Chapel Rock
  2. Miners Castle
  3. Lovers Leap

These aren't just creatively named rocks.

They are the gatekeepers of tales spanning centuries, all accessible by a kayak under your command.

The best part?

You don't need to be a seasoned kayaker to enjoy these routes.

But, hold your paddles!

There's something you need to know: since March 2022, an entrance pass is a must.

Your options are:

  • A 7-day personal pass for $15
  • A group vehicle pass for $25
  • An annual adventure for $45

And guess what?

If you visit after August 10, 2021, you're getting the best the guides have to offer, with updated routes that include over 30 miles of trails and a 7-mile shoreline kayak extravaganza!

With the latest data being as fresh as of March 2024, you're in for the experience of a lifetime.

Are you ready to paddle your way through nature's masterpiece?

Gear up, grab your pass, and embark on what will surely be a highlight in your book of adventures.

Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is not just a kayak route; it's a vivid journey that you'll paint with every stroke of your paddle.

Channel Islands National Park (California)

Ever paddle through a cavern while a symphony of sea birds echoes overhead?

At Channel Islands National Park, you can weave your kayak through magnificent sea caves and skirt towering cliffs, all while spotting an array of marine wildlife.

Kayaking Highlights:

  • Sea Caves: Get ready for an adventure through the park's natural sea caves. The most notable is Painted Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the world, stretching 122 meters long.
  • Cliffs: Keep your eyes peeled as you glide past 40-foot-tall cliffs at spots like Cathedral Cove, a superb backup option during those busy days.

How to Get There:

  • Access: The park is a secluded treasure, hiding 1.5 hours northwest of Los Angeles. A ferry ride, bookable through companies like SB Adventure Co., will whisk you to this kayaker’s paradise.
  • Planning: Don’t wing it! The key to a splendid trip is pre-booking your kayak tour and ferry tickets.

Quick Tips:

  • Weather: Before setting sail, call (805) 988-6610 for the latest updates or monitor NOAA Weather Service broadcasts.
  • Safety: Always respect the sea. Pack safety essentials and be aware of changing conditions.

What's waiting for you is not just a kayaking trip but a front-row seat to nature's marvels.

Imagine paddling amidst dolphins or under a canopy of starts if you opt for a night tour.

Why settle for just a day at the beach when you can immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Channel Islands?

Pack your adventure spirit, and don't forget your camera!

Lake Powell (Utah/Arizona)

Have you ever imagined kayaking through landscapes so striking they barely seem real?

Well, Lake Powell, which straddles the border between Utah and Arizona, offers just that—a kayaker's dream with its dazzling red rock canyons and towering cliffs.

Picture yourself gliding on glassy water surrounded by tranquil silence, where the only sound is your paddle slicing through the crystal-blue lake.

Why paddle here?

It's an eco-friendly way to travel!

You get to experience nature up close without leaving a trace.

Now, imagine the early morning; you're on the water by 7 am, with the sun painting the sky in hues of pink and orange.

The stillness of sunrise at Lake Powell is unmatched, and these are the moments you'll remember forever.

As you navigate through the network of canyons, you'll discover secluded coves and serene slots only accessible by water.

Keep an eye out for the Water Antelope Canyon, a hidden gem reachable by kayak where the interplay of light and shadow creates a mesmerizing display.

Ready for a fun fact?

Kayaking isn't just a feast for your eyes; it's also a fantastic workout.

Your core, arms, and back will thank you after a day of paddling in this watery wonderland.

Some logistics for you: Kayak rentals and guided tours are readily available.

Certified guides offer their knowledge on kayaking essentials and wildland medicine, ensuring a safe and insightful journey.

  1. Essentials for Lake Powell:
  1. When to go: Aim for sunrise to beat the heat and enjoy calm waters.
  2. What to bring: Sun protection, water, snacks, and a camera—you'll want to capture this beauty.
  3. Where to start: Bullfrog Marina is a popular launch spot, but water levels can be affected by drought, so keep informed.

Whether you're a seasoned paddler or it's your first time in a kayak, Lake Powell is a paddling paradise.

Are you ready for an "out of this world" adventure?

La Jolla Sea Caves (California)

Have you ever glided through natural wonders on a kayak, the sun kissing your face and the salty breeze running through your hair?

Then you'll adore steering your paddle through the La Jolla Sea Caves near San Diego.

Think of it less as a route and more as a treasure trail, guiding you through seven spectacular sea caves, each telling its own silent story.

  • Sunny Jim Cave: It's not just about the sun; it's a tunnel to the heart of cliffs!
  • Arch Cave: Ready for some natural architecture?
  • Clam’s Cave: Ever kayaked through a clam? Here's your chance!

Starting at La Jolla Shores, a mere 20-minute paddle delivers you to these masterpieces.

Picture yourself weaving between caves ranging from 600 to 800 feet deep—that's like paddling the length of two football fields, end to end!

Tours are conveniently available from 9 am to 4 pm; pick a single kayak starting at $44 or buddy up in a double for $69.

Everyday California gets you wetter with kayak and snorkel adventures, so how adventurous are you feeling today?

Oh, you're worried about missing those Instagram-worthy moments?

Don't be!

The vibrant marine life, including those show-off leopard sharks and bashful sea lions, might just photobomb your selfie.

Need specifics?

Dial up (858) 459-1114 or drift down to 2199 Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla, and sign up for your salty escapade.

Don't forget, every paddle stroke is a stroke of discovery.

So, are you ready to dip your paddle in the Pacific's pages?

Mendocino Coast (California)

Ever felt the urge to glide through mysterious sea caves or navigate under natural archways, with the sun on your face and the ocean's rhythm guiding you along?

The Mendocino Coast in California is your perfect playground for such an adventure.

Picture yourself paddling through these geological wonders, each stroke bringing you closer to nature's artistic beauty.

  • Tour Times: Daily departures at 9:00am, 11:30am, and 2:00pm
  • Reservations: Required, call ahead at 707-813-7117

The variety on offer is staggering—serene channels, home to sea stars and vibrant algae, await your discovery.

And don't be surprised if a curious harbor seal pops up to say hello!

Why Kayak Here?

  • Experience the Protected Ocean Bay: It's family-friendly and perfect for all skill levels.
  • Professional Guidance: Local experts bring over 40 years of experience to your tour, ensuring safety and fun.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Keep your eyes peeled for river otters and a diverse array of coastal birds.

Ready to Set Sail?

Grab your life vest and set out for a journey that will treat your senses.

Whether you choose to explore with Kayak Mendocino, take a Sea Cave Nature Kayak Tour, or go solo, remember to book in advance to secure a spot on this popular excursion.

Quick tip: Want to keep the vibes relaxed?

Rent a canoe or SUP for a gentle day on the water, and yes, you can bring your furry friend along to some spots!

Remember, the Mendocino Coast isn't just a destination—it's an experience.

So why wait?

Dive into your next kayaking adventure!

Elephant Butte Lake (New Mexico)

Have you ever heard of Elephant Butte Lake?

It's a tucked-away treasure in central New Mexico, calling out to adventurers like you who love to kayak through breathtaking landscapes.

With its large reservoir home to unique rock formations and cliffs, Elephant Butte Lake State Park offers an enticing escape.

What can you find around its rocky shores?

Picture gliding through the water and entering hidden coves that invite you for a peek.

Paddle under the vast cliffs and let the echoes of your splashes reveal the size of these towering structures.

It's pretty awe-inspiring!

But wait, there's more!

Elephant Butte is not just about quiet exploration; the lake can accommodate lots of watercraft.

From sleek kayaks to bustling jet skis, there’s room for everyone to enjoy the water in their own style.

And safety first, right?

Make sure to wear your life jacket while you create waves of fun.

What's On Offer?

  • Kayak-friendly Areas: Look out for calm spots, perfect for both beginners and the more experienced paddlers.
  • Watercraft Options: Bring your kayak, or opt for a canoe, jet ski, or even a sailboat.
  • Facilities: Need a break from paddling? The park provides restrooms, picnic areas, and more for that much-needed downtime.

Remember, a day-use fee applies, but it’s a small price to pay for access to this delightful spot.

So, are you ready to answer the call of Elephant Butte Lake?

Grab your paddle and let’s hit the water for an unforgettable journey through natural magnificence!

Grand Island Ice Caves (Michigan)

Have you ever paddled through a winter wonderland?

In the heart of Michigan's frosty landscape, the Grand Island Ice Caves await your visit.

Imagine kayaking under natural arches sculpted from ice and towering cliffs on Lake Superior’s coast.

Doesn't that sound like a chilly but thrilling adventure?

These caves form each winter with the cold kisses of Mother Nature.

As you glide along:

  • Expect surprises - The size of these ice caves can be astonishing. Grand Island’s caves are more expansive than the nearby Eben Ice Caves.
  • Prepare for a bit of a challenge - You'll need to crisscross a blanket of snow to access these icy marvels.

For the adventurous souls among you:

  • Trail to the caves - Although it’s a snowy journey, the trip to these caves is one you won’t forget.

Know Before You Go:

What to Bring Why You Need It
Cold-weather gear It can get really nippy out there!
Kayak suitable for icy conditions Normal kayaks may not hold up against the ice.
A camera You'll want to capture the moment, trust me.

Remember, each visit to the Grand Island Ice Caves is unique, as the ice formations change with the whims of weather.

It's an ephemeral experience that captures the imagination and the spirit of winter exploration.

Are you ready to bundle up and see what all the fuss is about?

Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)

Ever fantasized about paddling through a frosty wonderland?

At Kenai Fjords National Park, your daydreams turn into reality.

Kayaking here isn't just about the exercise; it’s a front-row seat to Alaska's raw beauty.

So, what can you expect when you dip your paddle in these icy waters?

  • Epic Scenery: Picture yourself weaving through caverns beneath colossal cliffs.
  • Glacier-Gazing: Get up close to ancient, creaking glaciers.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep your camera ready for seals lazing on ice floes and puffins winging past.

Do you enjoy a side of history with your adventure?

You'll be tracing routes once navigated by intrepid explorers and native peoples.

It's more than just kayaking; it's connecting with the past.

And the kayaking?

Oh, it's something else!

With about three hours of paddling available in Aialik Bay, you’ve got plenty of time to take in the sights:

  • Marvel at the ice calving off the glaciers.
  • Glide along as you spot otters playfully twisting in the water.
  • Feel the spray of the sea and maybe, if you're lucky, witness orcas in their natural habitat.

Remember, the water's choppy and the weather's unpredictable, so prep for an adventure.

Need to book a tour or rent gear?

Local outfitters are your friends.

Give them a ring; they’re chock-full of inside scoops and pro tips.

So, are you ready to embark on a kayaking journey that's both wild and wondrous?

Pack your spirit of adventure and head to Kenai Fjords National Park, where every stroke of your paddle writes a stroke of your story.

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)

Ever thought about kayaking in a place where wild horses might just be your audience?

Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia is your go-to for an experience that's as unique as it is breathtaking.

You're there, paddle in hand, navigating tidal creeks and encountering coves that are nature's best-kept secrets.

But wait, there's more!

Can you imagine riding the swift currents of the Crooked River with salt marshes as far as the eye can see?

And here's a neat stat: the tides can vary about 6 to 9 feet—believe it, because that can make your kayak adventure quite the thrill.

Here's a breakdown of what to expect:

  • Starting Point: Many kayakers kick off from Crooked River State Park to make it a bit smoother.
  • Paddling to the Island: Expect miles of serene salt marshes as you approach the island.
  • Where to Land: Your journey can lead you to the Plum Orchard dock—a perfect pitstop!

Remember, kayaking to Cumberland Island isn't just about the destination; it's truly the journey that'll fill your 'awesome memories' jar.

Yes, you must be over 16 and there's a park fee, but who's counting when such an adventure awaits?

Packing your kayak yet?

Just nod and start planning because those cliffs, wild horses, and untouched maritime forests are calling your name!

And hey, isn't life just better with a paddle in your hands and a bit of Georgia's natural beauty as your compass?