Sometimes you just want to relax in a kayak, slowly paddle and soak up the beauty as the world drifts by. Other times you’re looking for a rush — catching a swell or maneuvering down a Class IV rapid.
With miles of pristine coastline, rivers, bays and estuaries, there’s a waterway and an outfitter on Oregon’s South Coast for the biggest adrenaline junkies as well as the solace-seeking nature lover. Here are a few adventures for paddlers of all persuasions.
In Coos Bay, paddle a canoe or kayak through South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, 4,800 acres of open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas and forested upland. Gear up at Waxer’s Surf & Skate shop, which offers rentals as well as surf, kayak and SUP lessons.
If you’d rather follow a local expert, South Coast Tours leads eight different guided kayaking and paddleboard tours for groups of up to 20 people out of Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings. You can spot wildlife and learn to fish at breathtaking waterways like Orford Heads, the Arches Territory, the Rogue River, Rogue Reef or the South Slough Coos Bay. South Coast Tours’ overnight kayak trip is a 22-mile paddle along the heart of the Banana Belt Coast, including a fresh seafood dinner and camping on the beach at Crook Point National Wildlife Refuge.
In Port Orford, learn to windsurf or kiteboard with a lesson at Floras Lake Windsurfing & Kiteboarding. Beginners start out on a “trainer kite” on dry land to first get the feel of it, then learn to fly the kite in the water without a board before finally hopping on. The experienced guides work with adventurers of all abilities at their own pace.
Further south in Brookings, catch a swell on this glorious stretch of coastline with pro tips from Southern Oregon Surf Company. Learning to surf is more than just balance — it’s being properly equipped, learning to read the wave conditions and knowing your surfer etiquette, so make sure to brush up.
If river paddling is more your speed, take a one- to -three-day guided kayak or rafting trip down the Chetco River with Wilderness Canyon Adventures, offering Class I-IV rapids to suit various skill levels. The pristine Chetco River is home to more than 200 species of animals, and 97 percent of the watershed is forested.
Does it get any better than this? Go on, get out there and get paddling!
Photo: Chetco River by Wilderness Canyon Adventures