The Paddler magazine asked 26 world-class sea kayakers two questions, “Which is your favourite location and why?” Jeff Allen, JF Marleau, Justine Curgenven, Leonardo Esch and Marcio R. Pereira gave us their answers and more to follow over the next week…
“Being asked where is the best place you have paddled is to an expedition paddler a nightmarish question. Why? Well, the thing with sea kayaking isn’t about where you’ve been but where you are going, we sit forward facing in our sea kayaks, leaving the places we have been before, in our wake, we are quite different to ocean rowers who are continually looking backwards to where they were.
“But if in all the thousands of miles I have paddled I were forced to make a recommendation for you to go and visit, I would offer you one location which is very close to my heart and this would be northern Norway, this is not just because of the Tolkienesque Mountains, which run all the way down to the ocean and it would not be because of the many hidden white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
“The thing that entrances me the most about northern Norway is the contrasts of light, something ever changing and quite entrancing, I can sit for hours and just watch on how the light changes the way we perceive our surroundings.
“The area is a continual archipelago of islands and the coastline is deeply riven by fjords cutting cleanly through the mountain peaks. It’s a beautiful place for any paddler to aspire to. ”
Skookumchuck, British Columbia, Canada
“It is difficult to single out one specific place as my favourite destination. Depending on whether I want to play, socialize or travel, I will opt for different locations.
“Clayoquot Sound and the Canadian Arctic for sea kayak touring are deeply inspiring, kayak surfing at home in Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island is a much needed therapeutic routine, for playing in the currents and socializing with friends and clients, Surge Narrows and the charm and warmth of the Discovery Island Lodge on Quadra Island is truly a magical place.
“However, there is one specific place that is absolutely outstanding and world class to surf an almost endless green wave pending appropriate tides and currents’ speeds. This place is called Skookumchuck. It is a First Nation name meaning turbulent water or rapid torrent. True to its name, you can play on a large green wave formed by high flowing water rushing underneath your kayak. I am amazed by the power of nature. The rush created by surfing this powerful tidal wave is overwhelmingly good.
“But don’t be fooled… What awaits you, not if but when you miss your exit will make your eyes go wide and your heart skip a beat.”
Bardsey Island, Wales, United Kingdom
“The Queen Charlotte Islands has its blended culture and natural beauty, New Zealand challenged me with her ring of surf and the Aleutian islands dazzled me with her wild remoteness, rich wildlife, unknown currents and stark beauty.
“I love travelling the world and paddling in unknown, untouched places. I’m always wanting to know what’s around the next headland. But there’s beauty and magic all over. When I’m home in north Wales, I always know I’ll have a special day if I head to the charming island of Bardsey at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula.
“The Welsh name, Ynys Enlli, means ‘Island in the currents’ as currents of up to 6 knots swirl around the island, apart from a brief slack period. In wind and swell, a turbulent wave train blocks the way to the pretty island. Despite this – or perhaps because of this – Bardsey used to be a destination for pilgrims. Seven visits to Enlli was equivalent to one visit to Rome and 10,000 saints are said to be buried on the island.
“Bardsey is only a few miles in surface area and just a couple of miles from mainland Wales but there’s magic crammed onto that little island. A stripy lighthouse adorns one end and a bulbous hill stands proud opposite it. Over 100 seals, 36,000 nesting shearwaters, choughs, guillemots, puffins and many other birds make it their home.
“One family lives on the island year-round, looking after the sheep and cattle who graze the land, watching the winter storms, making honey from bees and weaving rugs from wool. I alway look forward to my own pilgrimage to Bardsey, I wear a quiet smile the whole time I breathe in the fresh island air and I leave with a deep contentment. There are magic places all over our world, but there’s something extra special about your own local piece of magic.”
South east Brazil
“Imagine paddling in a place with mild weather, where the mountains are covered by lush forest that comes down to meet the sea. Or do you want white sand beaches, protected from bad weather or maybe open challenging waters? Caves? Rock gardens? Do you want more islands than you could ever explore in one lifetime? Or want to paddle in a tropical fjord?
“In south east Brazil all of this is possible, and you will never need to paddle wearing a dry suit! Please look a little video about the Sugar Loaf of Mamanguá (tropical fjord).”
Marcio R. Pereira
Santa Catarina, Porto Belo, Brazil
“Imagine a place with tropical climate where you paddle between islands with crystal clear water and beautiful spots of deserted and paradise beaches; a place where you can paddle on sheltered waters or open water with turbulent flow. You can even surf on perfect waves. A place for paddlers of all levels.
“Believe me, I have found this place. It is situated in the state of Santa Catarina, in the region of Porto Belo, Brazil. At least twice a year I go rowing in this region and each stroke is always a great surprise. Sometimes, I find dolphins, other time sea turtles and have had pleasure of seeing penguins.
“I have not had the luck to see whales yet. Although it is not common, I know they usually go through this region. “Because of all this I reported I will come back soon and bring some friends with me, so, they will know more about my favourite place to paddle. “I would like to invite all paddlers to come and know this paradise. I am sure, you will be amazed.“