One of the best decisions we ever made was opting for the water booties and fleece-lined base layer tops that Manly Kayak Centre offers to all its visitors. Why? Because this was the wettest and wildest kayaking tour we experienced – all thanks to the enthusiasm of our guide Belinda who was raring to go ahead on a winder-than-usual Saturday.
Launching off metres from the Manly ferry was a thrill in itself, but soon we were working up a sweat navigating moving boats, a rising tide and drenching sea spray. We buddy up on a double sea kayak for maximum power as we paddle out towards the ocean. Hugging the coastline as much as we can, we steer into the secluded Store Beach for a much-needed rest and refuel.
As part of the tour, Manly Kayak Centre organises a picnic table, chairs and loungers as well as a platter of sandwiches, fruit and lamingtons for the salty kayakers. The beach is accessible only by boat, which makes it a popular spot for proposal picnics. Though they’ve packed a couple of stand-up paddle boards, we opt to get back in the kayak and scoot around to Q Station.
As each tour is four hours long, there’s time for a scenic walk wherever you moor up. We take a stickybeak around the historical, and possibly haunted, buildings at the old Quarantine Station. It’s a good opportunity to stretch the hip flexors and flex the wrists after the challenging 40-minute paddle. When the seas are calmer, Belinda takes her tours across to Dobroyd Head, but we’re more than satisfied with the 360-degree lookout points from Sydney Harbour National Park.
We ride the surf back into the harbour, taking half the time and half the effort, before marching our soaking activewear to the nearest pub. Manly Kayak Centre runs tours throughout winter and they offer SUP lessons, fitness and yoga sessions and kayak hire from $25.