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Family on a boat in London - for London's best watersports for kids feature

The best watersports in London for kids and teens

Make a splash this summer holiday with watery activities on London’s canals, rivers and docks

By Charlie Allenby
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So you've been to all the best parks, and you've marvelled at the walrus at the Horniman Museum, where next for cooped-up kids and teens in London? It's time to take to the water.

On a clear day, there's nothing better than getting out on the river. From paddling down the Thames on a bovine-inspired canoe to putting the wind in your sails at a Docklands windsurfing session - here are eight great splashy sports for kids and teens.

Not the best weather for outdoor fun? Take a look at our list of indoor activities for kids in London. And for inspiration that’ll keep you going through the summer holidays and beyond, check out our list of 101 things to do in London with kids to fill your free time and weekends.

The best watersports in London

Paddleboarding in Paddington
Paddleboarding in Paddington

Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding (aka SUP) is all the rage with ripped adults (we’re looking at you, Orlando Bloom), but kids can get a slice of the action too. Nippers as young as eight can try Active360’s canalbased lessons at Brentford Lock or Paddington Basin SUP schools.

© Kayaking London.jpg
© Kayaking London.jpg
© Kayaking London

Kayaking

Similar to canoeing, but with a double-bladed paddle, kayaking is a fun activity for all ages to try. Kayaking London offers regular classes for nine t o19-year-olds, and its base on the Thames makes for some amazing views from the water.

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Goboat, London, UK
Goboat, London, UK

Boating

Take things at a more leisurely pace. GoBoat offers self-drive tours of the canal from Paddington, with the longer routes sailing past London Zoo. There’s space for eight, should your kids fancy bringing crewmates. Plus, dogs are welcome for the complete family day out.

White water rafting
White water rafting

Rafting

Throw them in at the deep end (not literally!) with a Go White Water white-water rafting adventure at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, the London 2012 Olympic site. Kids as young as ten can experience an adrenalinefuelled ride as they twist and turn their way around the Legacy loop. With a maximum of five people per raft, get stuck in with the kids. Just remember to hold on tight!

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Moo Canoes in London, uk
Moo Canoes in London, uk

Canoeing

Paddle your way around the canals and rivers of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and get up close with Hackney Wick’s waterborne residents with Moo Canoes. Suitable for two adults and two small children, each canoe is extremely stable (so there shouldn’t be any chance of a little one going for an unplanned dip), while its jazzy cow-pattern design will get you moo-ving.

Docklands windsurfing session - watersports for kids in London
Docklands windsurfing session - watersports for kids in London

Windsurfing

Put the wind in your sails at a Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre windsurfing session. Beginners will grasp the basics of balancing before moving on to mastering various sailing techniques. Knot to be missed. 

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Rowing

Think you’ve got a future Olympian on your hands, but not sure how to get them started? Royal Docks Adventure will be hosting taster sessions for anyone aged 11 and above to take up an oar for the first time. That gold medal just got one step closer.

Man Wakeboarding
Man Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding

Got an adventurous ten-year old? This Wakeup Docklands hour-long introduction to wakeboarding should put smiles on little faces, while you can sit back and watch them whizz around the Royal Docks from the comfort of the site’s sandy beach.

More things to do in the summer holidays

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