Kayaking Perth: A Guide
Nov 28, 2020
With the temperature rising and summer well and truly here, now is the perfect time to take to the water in a kayak and fall in love with Perth, Western Australia.
Just by looking at a map, you can see that Perth's golden coastline, offshore islands, and a long waterway weaving its way through the city centre are a kayaker's heaven.
Come along as we take you through the top paddling spots around Perth to make the most of exploring the city and its surrounds.
Where can I kayak in Perth?
Around Perth, you can choose from a wide variety of beautiful places to take to the water for your kayaking adventures, from rivers to open water adventures. Join tours or go solo to enjoy these places, and maybe even float past wildlife such as dolphins.
Best for: Exploring the city and its bird and sea life
Top tip: The best view is just west of Heirisson Island, where the South Perth foreshore provides a panorama of the city skyline.
The Swan River has 50 km of great kayak water. It is a spectacular way to see Perth from a different perspective. The Swan River runs past the wineries of the Upper Swan to the river mouth of North Fremantle, and right through the heart of the city centre.
The trail can be broken into smaller sections depending on the experience of the paddler.
Heirisson Island to Ascot Waters
Heirisson Island is a great place to set off, as it shelters the water. Paddle north towards the Maylands foreshore to explore Claisebrook Cove and beyond to Ascot Waters.
Ascot Waters is a quiet, relaxing residential area around an island. You can kayak past beautiful houses, and you might glimpse some herons and pelicans.
The perfect view comes west of Heirisson Island - the vista is particularly beautiful at sunset when the city lights flicker on and the evening light blacks out a silhouette of the CBD skyscrapers. So, time your adventure to enjoy this golden hour on your way back.
If you're in luck, you might even see some dolphins near the canals. This tranquil spot is perfect for kayaking amateurs.
Middle Swan Reserve to Lilac Hill Park
Another popular start point on the river is Middle Swan Reserve - you can cruise around nearby to enjoy the peace and quiet, or follow the west shoreline down to Lilac Hill Park and back for more of a vigorous paddle.
Maylands Foreshore Reserve to East Perth
Start at Maylands Foreshore Reserve where there’s parking just off Clarkson Road. From here you can head towards East Perth.
You'll pass Belmont Park, then go under Windan Bridge before getting to Claisebrook Cove on your right where you can pull in for a break before heading back.
South Perth to Burswood
Head to the foreshore at the end of Coode Street in South Perth, where you’ll find plenty of parking. From there, paddle across to the city-side of the river, taking care around this busier water way, then head east towards Heirisson Island.
You can stop at the south end of the Island where there are two or three kangaroos inside a protected section. Keep going under the Causeway and do a loop around Heirisson Island, turning around near Burswood Park, and head back to the South Perth foreshore.
If you don’t have a kayak, you can hire one at South Perth where the catamaran hire is on the west side of Coode Street Jetty.
Canning River Regional Park
Best for: A relaxing day trip
Top tip: Canning River Regional Park is an easy 20-minute drive from the CBD and is accessible by all vehicles on sealed roads.
A great way to experience the park is by taking your kayak to the waters of the Canning River, another of Perth's beautiful rivers.
The park extends for six kilometres along both sides of the river. Given how the flat the park is, you feel totally enclosed in nature while still being surrounded by suburbia.
The stretch of river that passes through the park should take around 2-3 hours to kayak one way, or a full day if you take a round trip.
You won't find rapids or pulse-racing sections in this stretch - it's an area for an easy tour with spectacular views of nature.
Penguin Island & Seal Island
Best for: Island hopping
Top tip: You can hire kayaks in Rockingham if you don't have your own.
To many, this is Perth's perfect kayaking spot, to be found a 45-minute drive from the city centre.
A kilometre off Rockingham, the popular Penguin and Seal Islands are full of the wildlife of their namesakes. Look out to see sea lions, little penguins, pelicans and the thousands of sea birds that take refuge in Shoalwater Bay, as you paddle past. You can also snorkel in the warmer summer months.
Start from the beach where the Penguin Island Ferry leaves, and it's a short paddle across to Penguin Island. At low tide, you're kayaking in fairly shallow water, due to a sandbar that links the island to the mainland.
Once you reach the island, you can either do a circuit around it, or head north to Seal Island, which is close by, to make it a longer trip.
Rockingham to Garden Island
Best for: Competent paddlers looking for an ocean tour
Top tip: There's a bay to the west of the causeway on Garden Island where you can land.
This is a fairly short paddle, if you launch your kayak from Point Peron and paddle north across the channel straight towards Garden Island. Keep the causeway linking Point Peron to the mainland on your right, and there's a bay to the west where you can land.
For open water paddling, don't kayak alone and take the regulation safety equipment, including life jackets and flares.
Ensure you stay on this side of the causeway, as public access is restricted to the east.
This is a short paddle, at just 2.5km each way, but is across open ocean, so you need to be a competent paddler.
Don't set out if the wind is strong or if there's a chance of being caught in a strong wind on the way back.
How much is kayaking in Perth?
If you don't have your own kayak, or even don't want to transport your own, then hiring a kayak is a good cost-effective choice. You can expect to pay around $25 for an hour, or $40 for two hours.
If you're less confident, or are looking for the inside scoop, you may prefer to join a tour for the places listed above. As they are all popular destinations, tours are available for all of them, ranging from an hour to full-day trips.
Experienced guides will be able to point out elusive wildlife, such as dolphins, and even help you to come close to them safely.
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