Kayaking in Italy from Cinque Terre to Portofino, our advice:
Kayaking in Italy: Our advice about one of the most beautiful Kayaking trips in Italy. Stop-offs, suggestions, distances and highlights for a truly moving trip by sea, crossing the suggestive Ligurian coast.
Our paddle takes us from Portovenere a Camogli, passing through the Cinque Terre National Park and round the Portofino Promontory.
Giuseppe, a point of reference nationally for Sea Kayaking and head of the Outdoor Portofino guides and instructors, will get your heart racing to the beat of your paddle. He will accompany you on this kayak trip through the scent of the sea and the Mediterranean scrub, from the bright colours of the fishermen’s villages to mighty, wild and uncontaminated nature.
Kayaking in italy: Explore Liguria by Kayak. Why and when?
In Liguria, Spring and Autumn are the perfect seasons for spending your days on the sea.
The beaches are still free of throngs of parasols and the sounds are still those of the waves and of nature.
The ideal temperature allows long paddles and that healthy and electrifying early morning air seems just perfect for physical activity. Don’t ever underestimate the charm and tranquillity of Winter.
In this video, there are some images of Liguria, as seen from a Kayak!
Last January, over the course of this paddle from Marinella di Sarzana to Genova Nervi, I really appreciated the fact that I could take in, with just one excursion, most of Liguria’s most beautiful sights.
The kayaks in our group were the undisputed masters of the sea seeing as that, apart from a ship entering La Spezia harbour and a little boat off fishing, the only others that we saw on the sea were seagulls and cormorants.
Inevitably after a day in the water the child in me doesn’t want to go home, wanting to remain in the open air beside the sea, ready to set off again the following day.
These conditions have stimulated me to develop the Ligurian kayak trip and here we will share our suggestions with you.
Kayaking in italy = Earth and Sea
I particularly love combining the marine part of the Sea Kayak with the terrestrial part, such as when camping at night and preparing meals.
This fusion is a way to fully live outdoors, connecting the various trip participants with each other as much as possible and making the experience more satisfying and rounded.
Kayaking in italy: suggested itinerary
The stretch of the Ligurian sea that we suggest that you explore is that found between Genoa and La Spezia, which gives you the chance to spend several nights out in the open. We would suggest a camp or bivouac, but the Ligurian coast is also rich in farmstays, B&Bs and hotels for all different tastes.
Exploring the one way routes is the best way to use the time available, as each instant is used to see and live something unique.
It is stimulating at the end of the experience, to see how much road (…water) we have covered, using only our own power.
The“wild” Ligurian Coast as seen from the sea:
Kayaking in italy, especially Liguria has a multitude of hidden corners that can only be visited by sea.
There are stretches of coast that are barely populated, almost uncontaminated, unknown to those who are strangers to sea travel. So let’s start this journey in our virtual kayak:
Portovenere – Cinque Terre
One of the wildest stretches, around 5 nautical miles without any villages and buildings, is to be found between Portovenere and Riomaggiore. The rock named Ferale, known for its pyramidal form and from the cross on its point, is found about halfway.
The cobble and stone beaches make the easiest landings and are our direct connection with the land, the limestone and the Mediterranean maquis just above.
The red rocks of Tramonti are much loved and easily recognised thanks to their height and colour.
Flanking the coast in the Cinque Terre stretch, between Riomaggiore and Monterosso, you can admire the famous chalk layers where, hewn by the wind and the waves, more than 30 small and medium sized grottoes are located. Half a nautical mile divides Riomaggiore from Manarola (you will paddle under the famous Via dell’Amore, closed at the moment, but reopening in 2023). Around 1.5 nautical miles in all separates the villages of Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
The stately Mesco Point is worth a mention which, with its colours that lean almost towards red and its serpentine green rocks, is one of the few areas that is sheltered from the South west wind.
From Levanto to Santa Margherita Ligure
Once you round the Promontory, you reach Levanto, connected to Bonassola and Framura, amongst other things by way of a splendid cycle path.
The breathtaking cliffs and natural pools between Deiva Marina and Moneglia are another area where it is a must to spend some time exploring the coast, perhaps taking some artistic pictures (like this one!).
After punta Manara proceeding towards the West, first we reach the Bay of Silence which Sestri Levante faces onto, extremely charming at this time of year. Of note is also the stretch between Chiavari and Rapallo and the Bay of Prelo and Trelo (San Michele di Pagana, between Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure).
The Portofino park or, for us, “the Mount”
Continuing towards Genoa we meet the Portofino Promontory, which dominates everything. Historically an important haven for vessels arriving from all parts of the world, it is also deadly: 18 wrecks are still present here, sunk in front of the high rocks in the Southern quadrant.
Thanks to the creation of the Protected Marine Area of Portofino you can come into close contact with the environment and the rich biodiversity to be found here.
Leaving Portofino, all the way to Camogli, we will be immersed in nature; the only comfortable landing will be that in San Fruttuoso reached after 3 nautical miles.
With our kayaks we can paddle into the C zone of the Protected Marine Area of Portofino to the East and to the West of the promontory and along the Southern B zone (between Punta Faro di Portofino – the lighthouse point – and Punta Chiappa).
The only thing that is forbidden is entering the bay denominated “Cala dell’Oro” ( Zone A). The V-shaped bay is found West of San Fruttuoso (where on the other hand we are obliged to stop off, visiting both the abbey and the underwater statue, the Christ of the Abyss).
If you would like to know more, have a look at the article: “PORTOFINO PARK BY KAYAK OR SUP (PADDLE BOARD): OUR 4 FAVOURITE SPOTS”
kayaking in italy = Paddling amongst world famous tourist sites.
The kayak is not just about nature – apart from the wilder side you can also admire, from the the sea, world famous tourist sites. Many of these are UNESCO heritage sites, here are the ones that you can’t miss (following our route, from East to West):
- Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto Islands
- The Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso)
- Sestri Levante
- Santa Margherita Ligure
- San Fruttuoso and Camogli.
The chance to stop off and feel like part of society once again, harmoniously immersed in the local architecture, is a unique and special feeling. A piece of focaccia, a coffee or a plate of handmade trofie pasta with pesto on the promenade are the icing on the cake and have a further positive impact on the mood of anyone who has been paddling for multiple days.
Staying on land: eating and sleeping
My favourite way of spending the night is camping amongst the olive groves and vineyards. You can try out wines and typical foods, sometimes prepared by structures that we work with, at other times cooked in the field by ourselves.
When you go on a kayak tour, one of the most regenerating things is going off for a relaxing walk as soon as you land. I love walking with my kayaking clothes on, looking like an alien that has arrived on a new planet, ready to explore it. Often people come up close to ask where we are from and what our travel plans are – getting o know local people is a spontaneous process with a kayak.
For people who have more time on their hands, or who fancy walking and exploring, we recommend:
- Trekking to the Cinque Terre
- Trekking in Portofino Park
- Cycling from Santa Margherita to Camogli
What gear do I need?
The truth is that you don’t need a great deal, and at any rate a lot less than what you might think. A lot of the equipment is transversal, useful for many different outdoor activities:
- Sleeping bag
- Camp kitchen
- Technical clothing (suitable both for the water temperature when paddling and for the air temperature when on land). Remember the adage “The cold does not exist, if you are properly equipped“
The technical kayak equipment includes
- Life jacket
- Splash guard
- Rock/reef shoes
For safety reasons, the kayak must be of the “sit inside” type, with watertight chambers and perimetral ropes.
You can join in our multi day paddles with you own gear or alternatively can hire everything you need from Outdoor Portofino.
This kayaking in italy tour is suitable for….:
This paddle trip has been devised thinking of those who already have kayak and outdoor life experience, people who are in good shape physically and have been in training.
People who have already frequented FICK, BC, ACA courses of Level 2-3 (or higher) have the right preparation for this sort of adventure.
Remember that it is better not to adventure out to sea unless you have the suitable knowledge to do so or unless you are accompanied by guides or other experienced kayakers.
Anyone wanting to undertake this paddle autonomously, as well as having the technical capability should make sure that they have a good knowledge of the marine environment and a competent understanding of the weather.
Ok, all this has made you want to leave on a kayak trip, but:
- You are capable of navigating on your own, but you don’t have the gear? Here is all the info regarding our Self Guided Tours
- You don’t feel like leaving on your own, discover our guided trips
- Are you an expert and are suitably prepared, but you feel that you need a refresher course? Take part in one of our courses before you leave!
Are you a Pro, well equipped and trained, but need some advice logistics wise? Get in touch, we would be happy to help you!