Winter kayaking from Ravdoucha


We keep paddling in the winter, to keep fit, to keep exploring.

On this weekend we had a good day of sunshine, and we kayaked up the coast from Ravdoucha.

Giulia on the boat with me, Roy in the other kayak, we paddled all the way to the little beach of Agios Pavlos.

The sea was very calm. The swell was significant though, and we decided not the land in the crashing waves, only enjoy the view from the sea.

About 13km for a good 3 hours out paddling, watching the little inlets and the rocky cliffs along the way.

We will have to come back another time to take a closer look at the beach.

Kayaking in Elafonissi and Kedrodasos

Kayak in Elafonissi

Early December and the weather is still great. The sea is about 21° C, and on this day it would be pretty still on the South of the island, so I went out for a paddle from Elafonissi, which to me always brings to mind the idea of a tropical beach.

Nobody was on the road on the almost one-hour drive there. In the summer there is a continuous flow of cars and buses going back and forth. Around the beach, there were a few campers with campervans. I launched in dead calm sea from one of the small coves on the East side.

I paddled easy, playing hide and seek with shags. I admired the clearness of the water and the amazing visibility to the sea bottom.

After about one hour, I reached Viena, a hidden cove that is incredibly well sheltered. There are ruins of an ancient sanctuary on the shore. I had a quick snack and got back in the water.

I considered snorkelling around the shallow rocks, but the cool slight breeze that had picked convinced me against it for the moment. I navigated through the rocks instead and paddled back towards Kedrodasos little beaches.

I watched the turquoise sea under me and the cedar trees to the side. A good size rock offered a goal, and I paddled on.

I must have been now less than 1Km away from the start. After tying the kayak rope around my waist, I jumped in with mask and snorkel, swimming towards shore. I spotted a couple of small cornetfish in the shallow water.

It was a good, relaxing winter day out.

Total distance: 12.22 km
Average speed: 5.10 km/h
Total time: 02:40:32
Download file: Kayak-Elafonissi-Short03122019.gpx

Kayaking from Ravdoucha

Kayak Manu in Ravdoucha

Today we had a little adventure kayaking on the edge of Kissamos Bay. We started from Ravdoucha, as we thought we would be sheltered on this side.

Kayaking Sky

But as soon as we left the bay the wind started blowing from South-West, and it grew as we were out.  We rode the wind and the small waves for a fun time, an hour or so, then we found shelter in a small bay. We only had the time for a quick break and a bite, not even a swim – the wind grew even more during our break, to the point that the bay no longer offered shelter. We looked back, and the sea had become a lot whiter. On top of that, the sky that looked so clear in the morning, turned really dark towards Gramvousa and North-West.

Kayak Break in sheltered bay

So we turned around and resigned to get back, as quickly as possible, against the wind. We had an hour and a half of just paddling into the wind, without any breaks and without any talking. A rib with some divers passed us and asked Spiros whether we needed towing. He said no, we were almost back at that point. Still, we couldn’t resist a little playing between some rocks!

Kayak Paddling

In the end, we beat the storm to the little harbour in Ravdoucha. We managed to get everything packed away and the kayaks on the car before the rain. The storm arrived relatively slowly, only in the afternoon. The lightning and the flooding knocked out the power in our village for almost a day, and our telephone landline and internet for a week now and counting!

Total distance: 10.87 km
Average speed: 4.55 km/h
Total time: 02:38:39
Download file: Kayak-Ravdoucha-Short10112019.gpx

Kayaking from Afrata

Kayak Cliffs Afrata

We went out with Spiros for a paddle along the Rodopo peninsula, starting from Afrata and going North. The air was quite still, we were sheltered from the West wind by the mountains. There was a good swell though. It was not so big when we started, but by the time we passed the first big headland North of Afrata we had some waves higher than 1m, as proved by the disappearing of the horizon.

Kayak along Rodopo peninsula

I paddled in a regular sit-inside sea kayak that I borrowed from some friends, and while not an absolute first time, it took me a while to get used to it. While Spiros was enjoying paddling very close to the coastline, I was keeping a safe distance, and I was mostly feeling dizzy, then hungry and tired. Later I realized I was just not well that day.

Caves on the cliffs

Things improved a little after I tested getting back in the kayak from the water, and made it quite easily. With the knowledge that I could get in and out at will, at least in decent sea conditions,, I felt better prepared for snorkelling and emergencies, and relaxed.

A kingfisher on the rocks
A kingfisher on the rocks

We paddled about 10Km in total. We saw lots of cliffs, some caves, some interesting deep, wide bays. We had some boiling sea where the swell was hitting the vertical walls and rebounding straight back. In the end I even tried doing a roll, and realized soon that I wouldn’t be able to do it on the first go based on pure instinct! Still fun.

Total distance: 10.52 km
Average speed: 4.09 km/h
Total time: 03:16:23
Download file: Kayak-Afrata-Short031120192.gpx

Kayaking on Crete’s West coast

Kayaking in Sfinari

Early Autumn and the sea in West Crete is so inviting.

We took some sit-on-top kayaks and went out from Sfinari beach, near Kissamos. Around to Platanakia beach and on towards Afratolakkos.

We tied the kayaks to ourselves and towed them for a long snorkel, with plenty of time to jump in and explore the beautiful sea life and the impressive underwater rocky landscape.

A great day out with the Italian team.


Total distance: 8.05 km
Average speed: 4.02 km/h
Total time: 03:04:15
Download file: Kayak-Sfinari-Short17102019.gpx

Falasarna – Balos on a double kayak

Kayak Balos Panorama

Today Spiros and I kayaked along the North-West coast of Crete, for my real first kayak outing this summer.

After checking the forecast, we saw that Wednesday would be a good day to go, with 0-2 Beaufort winds.

We rented a basic double sit-on-top kayak in Kissamos and set off earlyish in the morning from a very quiet Falasarna beach.

Kayak Crew

The air was still as expected, but the wave height was bigger than forecast! It didn’t deter us though, we decided  beforehand to not press ourselves and just turn back in case the going got too tough.

As it happened, the going got smoother over the course of the day. Wave height fell as we got closer to Balos, and even more significantly on our way back. The wind only picked up briefly just as we were approaching Balos, to die down again in less than an hour as we had our lunch break on the beach.

The cliffs were spectacular, and they didn’t feel as daunting as in my previous solo expeditions along this route. Company makes it easier to keep the mind off thoughts of impending doom! I was also less tired than the previous times that I paddled on this bit of coastline. Another positive, setting off after 8am meant that the ominous shadows cast by the high cliffs were gone soon after the start. We only had time to enjoy some shady respite in the very first part of the day.

Cliffs between Falasarna and Balos

We enjoyed the paddling. First we rode some waves and kept some distance from the cliffs. We admired the colours and the formation on the rocks. We jumped in the water in turns for some snorkelling, but for the first half we didn’t really approach waters shallow enough to see much with the mask.

We got to the South side of Balos in about two and a half hours, and it felt pretty easy. We knew there was no easy landing on this side, only rocks. We scanned the coastline for a good place to have a break. We found some narrow passages between the very shallow rocks, and parked the kayak in a sheltered pool.

Kayak Parked in Balos

After eating our pic-nic, we had a quick walk around busy Balos lagoon. It was hot and it looked crowded in the distance. The midday wind was carrying towards us the familiar whiffs of the beach cocktail: sun lotion, sea salt and sweat. A Frenchman started a conversation about the kayak, how far we’d come from and good places to snorkel. Spiros picked some sea salt from the rock pool.

Kayak Balos Panorama

We restarted and the way back was even better. With lower waves, we could take in the myriad shades of blue in the sea and get closer to the rocky cliffs.

Just off Balos, we saw some promising shallow areas and jumped in for a snorkel. Beautiful underwater rock formations, that we could stand on and went down to deep dark in the space of a few strokes. A lot of sea life swimming around the rocks: Saddled sea breams, damselfish, parrot fish, rainbow wrasses, small blue and silver fish.

Kayak and Snorkel to Balos

We paddled and paddled. We warmed up and jumped in the water a few more times. We both went in at the same time, many times, taking turns to keep an eye on and hold the kayak. We swam in the bay just North of Falasarna, and again around the shipwreck. A last swim by the submerged rock off the beach. Big sea breams dancing around, more saddled sea breams.

Home beckoned. We landed in the small rock pool, dreaming of future expeditions.

Kayak From Underwater

Total distance: 21.25 km
Average speed: 3.98 km/h
Total time: 07:15:52
Download file: Kayak-Falasarna-Balos-Short10072019.gpx


A video taken by Spiros as we were snorkelling underwater just off Balos: