The UK has experienced an unprecedented winter of battering storms, torrential rain, flooding and conditions not exactly ideal for paddling a kayak – unless you’re happy spooning about in 50 knot winds and massive waves.
Although temperatures have remained relatively mild it’s always nice to escape somewhere warmer and sunnier. Quality water time will rejuvenate and the Caribbean island of Grenada is perfect for soaking up some spicy kayak vibes.
Spice Isle kayaking – pic Conservation Kayak
Island of Spice
Noted for its production and export of nutmeg and mace, Grenada is where visitors head for rays, warm ocean toe dipping and colourful cultural immersion. There’s plenty of historical interest on the island and those not into briny activities will still enjoy a fulfilling visit.
Watersports options are pretty thin on the ground though, apart from diving, so when I spotted Conservation Kayak I was intrigued and keen to experience what they had to offer.
Conservation Kayak’s base at Whisper Cove Marina
Conservation and kayaking
Jamie and Amber Barrett have spent considerable time honing their craft. Fully trained up kayak guides, with expert in depth knowledge of the area, Conservation Kayak gives clients both a fun, unique and educational experience.
Based out of sleepy Whisper Cove Marina (Woburn Bay) the access to a variety of paddle routes is abundant. Hog Island lies a short distance offshore and offers the perfect kayaking focal point.
In and around Woburn Bay itself are numerous inlets, nooks and crannies that your sleek Wilderness Systems Kayak will fit snuggly into. A dazzling array of bird and marine life, flora, fauna and sublime views are just a few reasons to get involved.
One of the fellas you might be lucky enough to see on a Conservation Kayak trip – pic Conservation Kayak
Sit on kayaking is often perceived as a lesser cousin to its more hard core sit in sibling. It’s refreshing that Jamie and Amber consider their passion to be just as technical. Paddlers still require suitable skills and understanding to get the most out of sessions, even if these are relatively simple to pick up.
Route map and journey planner – pic Conservation Kayak
Before heading onto the water an in depth safety/technical briefing, designed to instil confidence and trust, took place. Newbies will appreciate this imparting of valuable knowledge and should be brimming with confidence before embarking on their paddling adventure.
No detail was left unchecked when it came to setting up Conservation Kayak. The quality of equipment is testament to this. A multi-coloured fleet of Wilderness Systems Tarpon kayaks, individually christened to reflect Bob Marley song titles (Kinky Reggae and One Love for example), will be your trusty steads for the day. Different colour ways make for a visually satisfying experience also.
Jamie giving one of his briefings
Propulsion modes are adjustable carbon Aqua Bound paddles. Easy to customise, guests are given accurate shaft lengths (based on height) and then free to adjust blade feather – helping to improve paddling efficiency when covering distance.
The Trade Winds were blowing hard on the day and I wondered if the session may be cancelled. Thankfully it wasn’t but due to being six months pregnant my wife would be left in the capable hands of Whisper Cove Marina staff. If you have non-paddlers in your party then relaxing in quiet seclusion here is blissful – the food and (non-alcoholic!) cocktails are pretty good as well.
Into the blue
After a short skill drill session our party spooned towards the horizon, hugging mangrove fringed shores to shelter from the breeze. There were plenty of rest stops and chances to observe Blue Herons diving for food, shoals of fish and generally take in the whole Spice Isle spectacle.
Things got interesting as we headed into open water. With no shelter we were at the complete mercy of Mother Nature. 25+ knots of breeze and rolling swell made for super fun conditions – much easier when heading down wind.
Hazel Da Breo gliding downwind – pic Conservation Kayak
At times it was necessary to navigate through reef keyholes, just yards from pounding Atlantic surf curling over shallow coral heads. With expert guidance we made it to our secluded beach lunch venue and took a breather from paddling under the hot Caribbean sun.
As part of the package Whisper Cover Marina prepare packed lunch for Conservation Kayak guests. Home baked bread, locally butchered meats and freshly grown produce quashed hunger pangs and everyone was soon satisfied.
Lunch stop! – pic Conservation Kayak
Quickly dipping into the bath warm sea to cool off, topping up liquid levels, we then left the confines of Hog Island and continued our journey.
The most strenuous leg of our circumnavigation was after passing under the bridge linking Hog Island to the mainland. Once through the gap it was a smash to the finish as we battled the stiff head wind. If anyone fancies a bit of watery exercise this is the perfect activity – no gym needed!
Homeward bound – pic Conservation Kayak
With a steady and constant stroke, our Wilderness Systems Tarpons cut through the flotsam like butter and soon enough we were all back safely in the sheltered waters of Whisper Cove. After a successful day paddling there was only one thing for it, a few cold beers to ease aching limbs.
A big thank you to Jamie and Amber at Conservation Kayak for all their efforts during the trip. Thanks also to Rob Bates (Grenada Tourism Authority UK), Grenada Tourism Authority on the island, British Airways (who offer two flights a week to Grenada), the Flamboyant Hotel and Kalinago Hotel for fab accommodation, Caribbean Horizons for car hire and Phil and Helen at Dive Grenada for the snorkelling – which we also enjoyed. Without all this help our Grenadian adventure wouldn’t have been possible.
Grenada – relax as hard as you like! – pic Conservation Kayak
For details regarding Wilderness Systems Kayaks in the UK email [email protected]