There’s never been a better time for outdoor pursuits—and kayaking has been topping our list of favorite summer activities. Responsibly social distance while getting some fresh air and exercise with four of our favorite scenic kayaking spots across the U.S. (and stay with Inspirato along the way).
Lake Tahoe, California
It’s no surprise that Tahoe tops our list of kayaking destinations. Its crystal-clear waters surrounded by the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas make for a swoon-worthy backdrop to a day on the lake. If you’re looking for a guided paddle, the Tahoe Adventure Company offers plenty of tours to choose from, like a sunset tour or an outing on the lake’s East Shore, the only undeveloped side of Tahoe. Stay at the Resort at Squaw Creek, offering easy access to the lake’s North Shore.
Big Island, Hawaii
Kealakekua Bay, tucked along the shores of Hawaii’s Big Island, offers an abundance of marine life. Spot a pod of dolphins playing among the waves, or get a little more up close and personal with a kayak fishing tour, where yellowfin tuna await. Family-owned Ehu & Kai outfitters has an abundance of rental options—and you’ll be only an hour’s drive from the bay with a stay at Inspirato’s spacious homes within Auberge’s Mauna Lani resort complex (they all feature private pools, too).
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Explore the inlets and estuaries of South Carolina Lowcountry with a serene paddle around Hilton Head Island—the locals say it’s the best way to get a feel for the area. Keep an eye out for manatees and dolphins in the Calibogue Sound, staying close to shore for the smoothest waters, or follow the marshes and streams branching off Broad Creek to see herons and other marsh-dwelling feathered friends. Kayak Hilton Head is also happy to do the work for you; the long-time outfitter offers dolphin boat tours for a laid-back way to take in the wildlife.
Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, Lake Dillon fits the bill for a paddler seeking a view. This alpine retreat, clocking in at just over 9,000 feet of elevation, serves as a reservoir for the city of Denver. Learn about the area’s history and wildlife (and spot moose, beavers, and bald eagles along the way) with a narrated kayak outing from Adventure Paddle Tours. Nearby Breckenridge is a quick 20-minute drive from the lake and offers several Inspirato homes. Swift Landing, an expansive home that sleeps up to 21, boasts a hot tub built to accommodate a group of that size that’s the perfect respite for a breezy mountain evening.