Gondoliers in Training
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Q: We are traveling to Lake Como, Italy and the French Riviera in March. Are there sea kayaking rentals/tours in either location? We are still beginners, but have been on a few sea kayaking tours already (Costa Rica and California). Do you have any recommendations?
– Karena, Colorado Springs CO
A: You won’t have trouble finding sit-on-top rentals in either place, but tours could be tricky. Kayak season on the Ligurian coast doesn’t really get going until mid-April. If you can stay a while, the Riviera’s finest guided trips will be yours for the taking. Otherwise, you’re on your own.
Not that it would be a huge loss to get stuck paddling Como unattended. You can rent decent kayaks at the youth hostel in Menaggio, then follow the shoreline from villa to villa, with the snow-tipped Alps in the distance. My only concern would be that it might be too cold for a post-paddle gelato.
Once April rolls around, you’re free to leave the mainland for some of Europe’s best springtime paddling. Sea Kayak Italy (www.seakayakitaly.com) operates the tour of choice: an 11-day visit to Sardinia, where you’ll hike, kayak and eat your way around the Mediterranean island. Rocky coves and prehistoric ruins top the list of highlights.
An early-season alternative: Enjoy the ocean from the shore with a hike through Italy’s Cinque Terre. The path from Riomaggiore to Monterosso will keep you occupied for the better part of a day. You’ll walk between fishing villages along a rocky coast, looking out to the cold, choppy sea and being very thankful that you’re not in it.