I had been on a kayak once before when a friend took me along on a family trip kayaking on the Brazos river close to Waco. I really enjoyed it then, so when we found ourselves in Austin last weekend with nothing to do on Monday morning, the choice was an easy one: try out kayaking in Austin. I looked around online for places to rent kayaks from and possibly coupon codes to make it a little cheaper. I quickly zeroed in on Zilker Park Boat Rentals. You can find their address, directions, hours, and a two for one coupon on their website: www.zilkerboats.com. I’m sure there are other rental places in Austin, but this is the only one I’ve tried myself and I would totally recommend them. They’re located right by the Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park and have a big banner that says “Canoe Rental is Open” right be parking lot where you can walk down.
Kayak or Canoe?
Marco had been on a canoe before and I had been on a kayak before. We compared notes and while the thought of staying completely dry in a canoe was appealing (there’s always some water in a kayak), the promise of not easily tipping over a kayak (apparently tipping a canoe is easier) won out and we rented a double kayak.
Where to go?
The friendly guy at the rental place recommended we take a left after getting on Lady Bird Lake. By the way, I always thought it was a river that was flowing through Austin. Instead it’s actually various reservoirs of the Colorado river. Anyways, if you take a right where the water that flows from Barton Springs joins Lady Bird Lake you’ll end up in downtown Austin. If you take a left you end up seeing more nature and have less downtown noises. Either way, there’s lots of cool things to see.
What to see?
During our few hours on the water we saw probably hundreds of turtles; some were swimming under the kayak and most were enjoying the sun and warming up on the sides of the river. We also saw a little swan family and a mom duck with her little ones. There were flowers that bloom under water. How cool is that? Once in a while a dragonfly would land on my legs or on the kayak. Once we found our rhythm (after we figured out that both using the paddles on the same side actually worked better than trying to go me left, he right, me right, he left), we went a little further towards the bridge and saw lots of other people on the water coming from another rental place. There were other kayaks (single and double), canoes, and quite a few people standing on surfboards and paddling forward. I don’t even know how you would do that. Balancing must be quite hard standing up. I loved all the huge trees on the sides of the lake and their reflections in the water. Check out how cool the part of the trees close to the water looks in the pics below.
Know before you go
- There is no bathroom right by the rental hut, but there is a public bathroom right by the “Canoe Rental is Open” sign in the parking lot.
- The sign says “Canoe Rental”, but they have canoes and kayaks for rent.
- Use lots of sunscreen. The Texan sun is strong even if it’s hidden behind clouds once in a while.
- If you go with the kayak option, wear a bathing suit or trunks. Your butt will get wet 🙂
- We didn’t have one of those fancy keep-things-dry bags because it was such a last minute idea, so we improvised and bought zip lock bags at a grocery store on the way.
- Bring something to drink. Even if you’re out for only a few hours you’ll get thirsty in the Texas heat. We brought along a tiny cooler with some water and Gatorade and stored out zip lock bags with our keys and phone and placed it in the front of the kayak.
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