Sea Kayaking in Spain with Siesta Advisor – Javea, Costa Blanca
LAST UPDATED ON JANUARY 6, 2018 BY JASON JENKINS
Sea kayaking in Spain may be the best way to witness the beauty of the Mediterranean. That’s certainly what I was thinking as we slid through the turquoise water under the Spanish sun. We were in Javea (also spelled Xàbia), in Spain’s Costa Blanca region. This eastern corner of the country juts into the Mediterranean, pointing like an arrow towards Ibiza and Sardinia. After a weekend of wandering around fishing villages and riding roller coasters in the Benidorm area, we chose here to spend a day on the water. Our family loves water sports, but this would be our first time sea kayaking in Spain. We enjoy surfing, paddle boarding, rafting, canyoning and wild swimming.
Even with experiences like these, we weren’t prepared for how beautiful a day sea kayaking in Spain would actually be. It was November 1st , and most people in the Northern Hemisphere were already wearing their winter gear. Yet despite sharing a similar latitude to Beijing and Baltimore, people in Javea were still sunbathing on the beach, and we were preparing to paddle out to a cave along the coastline for some snorkelling. For this adventure, we were fortunate to have an opportunity to work with Tamas and his wife Audrey of Siesta Advisor, an outdoor sports specialist that run tours in and around Javea. We met them at Playa de la Granadella, a small stone beach down a narrow road about 20 minutes outside of downtown Javea. After some short greetings, an introduction to sea kayaking and a few minutes prepping our kayaks and paddles, we were on the water. Our goal: the Cova del Llop Marí, one of the several spectacular caves nestled into the limestone cliffs along the coast.
We were in two-person sea kayaks, and the kids had decided to ride together. At first, they bickered with each other and had trouble paddling as a team. Soon they fell behind the group. Keiko and I weren’t much better, but Tamas and Audrey circled back to check on us, and we gradually began to row more efficiently. After a few stops here and there, we arrived at the main cave. The water was so clear that I could count the purple and lavender rocks on the bottom. Tamas & Audrey led our kayaks through a few small chambers in the back of the cave, and then we pulled the boats up onto the rocks for some snorkelling.
Snorkelling in November
Remember when I said it was so warm? Well, the water was a different story. While not frigid, it was certainly a shock when I jumped in. However, I was determined to swim into the chamber Tamas had pointed out on the other side of the cave. The boy followed me, and soon our swimming had warmed us up.
After drying off and having a snack, we paddled behind Tamas and Audrey to a small cove. Here the sun warmed us until we were ready for another round of exploring. Tamas led a few of us to a massive rock sitting in the cove nearby. With a snorkel mask secured on my face, I took a deep breath and plunged under the rock. Seconds later I was in a small underwater cave, gawking a school of fish on the other side as they floated through the azure light of another entrance on the other side of the boulder.
Tamas patiently answered everyone’s questions and checked on the kids to make sure everyone was having a good time. Before we knew it, the hours had passed and it was time to turn back.
For the return trip, Keiko and I switched up our kayak seating: girls in one, boys in the other. With this, the boy’s competitive edge began to show. He was ready to really paddle now, he said, and we decided to beat Tamas and Audrey back to the beach. We had a head start after all, as they were still in the cove, waiting for the last of our group to shove off. Alas, we were still last to the shore. Despite leaving ten minutes later than us, Tamas & Audrey passed us and arrived first. They didn’t even look like they were breaking a sweat. The boy and I had a lot to learn about paddling a sea kayak.
TIPS FOR SEA KAYAKING IN SPAIN
Sea kayaking in Spain can be a great day out with the family, but make sure you’re really ready for it. Here are a few tips to get the most out of a sea kayaking experience in Spain with kids.
Assess your kids’ arm strength
Kayaking in the Mediterranean on an outing like this isn’t overly strenuous, but it requires paddling for 20-30 minutes at a time.
Our kids are fairly fit, adventurous and enjoy lots of outdoor sports, including jungle trekking, rock climbing, and many forms of hiking. They’ve even climbed a volcano in Sumatra. Despite being harder work overall, all of these activities mostly use the legs and have frequent rest periods. In order to stay with the group, the sea kayaking required constant arm work. Our girl (now 10 years old) was beat. Her arms were tired by the end, and she more or less stopped paddling on the return trip.
Paddle lightly, paddle together
Kayaking newbies like us use more energy than is needed. The result: we tire out a lot earlier. Tamas explained that the right way to paddle is like dancing. On a scale of one to ten in exertion, he said, we could paddle this course at about a two or three. Nice and easy, but smooth and together.
We didn’t really get it until after watching he and Audrey glide through the water for an hour or two. They weren’t really straining themselves, but they were in sync.
Beware of the Mediterranean Sun
If you plan to go kayaking in Spain or spending any time on the Costa Blanca, don’t forget sunscreen and a hat. There is no shade on the open sea, and if you snorkel as well, then a lot of your first layers of sunscreen will wash off. Keiko and I wore our rash guards.
Bring enough snacks & water
You and the kids will work up an appetite out there. Siesta Advisor provides a big waterproof container for you to bring snacks. We brought empanadillas, tangerines, and bananas.
Carry towels with you too. This helped our girl dry off and warm up quickly after her chilly 15 minutes of snorkelling.
Consider your children’s ages and interest
Kayaking in Spain is for just about anyone. However, Tamas suggests that trips like this one are really for school-aged kids and up, and not just because of the paddling. Sure, some kids could just go along for the ride, but that involves a lot of sitting still, and little kids may grow tired of the journey long before their parents will.
Tamas does take some little ones, but usually on a much shorter trip. You know your kids better than anyone, so judge for yourself and consult with Tamas before you book.
Be prepared to change clothes in public
Many of Spain’s beachside changing rooms are open only during the summer vacation season. If you go kayaking in Spain during the off-season like we did, then showers and changing rooms are often closed. Be prepared to change out of your wet swimsuits in the parking lot — either in a car or under a sarong.