Family fun in open canoes

Open Canoe Taster

from £55

Rounding a small rocky peninsula, your canoe gliding silently over the shallow, turquoise waters, you spot ripples interrupting the reflections of mountains standing on their heads in the calm waters ahead of you.

Two big black eyes and a long snout let you know that a common seal is watching you from a comfortable distance.

Around the corner you land your canoes gently on a sandy beach to explore the shoreline and hear a local story of times gone by.

The Ardnamurchan Peninsulas are steeped in history and culture, just as open canoeing is; which makes them a perfect match for exploring the lochs and waters across the region.

  • Activity Level Leisurely
  • Group Size Large Group
All about the Open Canoe Taster.

Take to the waters of Loch Sunart for a half-day canoe taster where getting on the water and exploring stunning landscapes from a new perspective are more important than covering any particular route or distance.

Throughout your canoe adventure you will be accompanied by me, a fully qualified and highly experienced local guide who is there to ensure you get the most from your trip. I will offer advice on whatever aspect of your canoeing needs working on whether that be holding a paddle or efficient paddling, I’m able to guide you it whatever is needed.

I’ll also look after your safety throughout the trip and highlight any wildlife that appears or can be found as well as any relevant local cultural or historical sights or stories along the way.

These tasters are designed to give you an amazing experience on the water and a great introduction to the culture and history of open canoeing. Through this short human-powered journey you will be able to explore places you may never have realised existed.

Don’t worry about how fit you are as we probably won’t be paddling all the time we are on the water (approximately 2 hours) as exploring beaches and islands or watching any wildlife that appears is definitely part of these adventures.

The minimum age we take on these canoe tasters is six (6) years old which makes them an ideal opportunity to head out as a family and introduce your young children to the sport and the environment under the guidance of a qualified paddlesports coach.

If you’d like too head out for a full day adventure, please have a look at our Family Canoe Adventures instead. These are booked for one family at a time and tailored more towards the children and their physical needs and abilities. They also allow more time to explore the shoreline and eat snacks and drinks

I certainly intend you to stay in your canoe and dry (apart from your feet), but occasionally people do capsize canoes and fall in and it does (sometimes) rain, so please dress appropriately.

Changing facilities are very limited at present, so please come ‘dressed’ for the day and do your best to keep the canoe upright!

You may be asked to help move and lift canoes during the day, perhaps to load the trailer or stop them being washed away by the tide; so please let me know if this is going to be difficult for you or if you have any medical concerns that may affect your participation in the day.

Above all, enjoy your adventure and keep your fingers crossed for an otter to make an appearance!

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this activity?Items that are included in the cost of the activity

The following are included as standard:

  • Qualified and experienced guide throughout your journey
  • Use of our high quality, stable canoes
  • Robust paddle in a size to suit you
  • Adjustable buoyancy aid
  • Waterproof paddlesport jacket & trousers (recommended whatever the weather)
  • Drybags and/or one 30 litre plastic barrel per boat (to put your belongings in during the trip)

* Please feel free to use your own paddle sport equipment as long as it confirms to current UK safety standards and best practices and is less than five ears old

What's not included in this activity.Items not included in the activity price

The following is a non-exhaustive list of what we are not able to include in these adventures:

  • Clothes to wear under our waterproofs suitable for the weather (please avoid jeans and cotton clothes – modern outdoor clothing will be an excellent choice)
  • Shoes to wear whilst paddling (these will get wet)
  • Sunhat or beanie (depending upon conditions)
  • Spare jumper (better to start a little cool and add layers later if paddling has not warmed you up)
  • Sunglasses & retainer cord or band (if you wear glasses normally, please ensure they are secured by a retainer of some form)
  • Drinks and snacks to keep you going on the water
  • Spare clothes and towel (just in case!)
  • Personal accident and possessions insurance
  1. Guided Open Canoe Taster Arrangements

    Meet at Otter Adventures base in Strontian at 09:30 or 14:00 as per your booking. If we have arranged anything different, I will have communicated it well in advance.

    Don’t worry about being early I’ll probably be busy checking up to the minute weather and tide forecasts, and generally preparing some ideas for your trip based upon these. If you arrive on time I can get a feel for your level of experience before refining the options available for the trip, sharing these with you and helping you choose what suits you best.

    Please arrive wearing suitable clothing for the day as changing facilities are very limited at present. I will give you canoe specific waterproofs to wear over your clothes (if needed) so you don’t have to get yours covered in salt water or wet and have to dry them in your holiday accommodation. I’ll definitely give you a suitably sized  buoyancy aid to wear!

    I may ask for help loading and unloading equipment during the day- especially the canoes – so, please let me know if that is going to be difficult for you. Please also let me know in advance if yo have any significant medical or dietary matters that may affect the planning of the day.

    Once everyone is ready, we will head off to the location for the day. Ideally this will be on Loch Sunart – right outside our front door – but the wind and tide may mean that we have to go elsewhere. Don’t worry: we have ample water to choose from within 20 minutes drive, but we may need someone to follow us in their car with a few people in.

    If possible, we may be able to get dropped off (or picked up) and undertake a journey that takes in more of the amazing scenery and gives a greater sense of accomplishment.

    Our aim is to be back at Otter Adventures with all equipment returned by either 12:30 or 17:00. If the weather is amazing and the seals or otters performing, we may be a little late – please let your guide know before the trip starts if you have to be away promptly for any reason.

Good question – but it depends upon the weather and how much you feel the cold!

Most modern outdoor clothing is great – synthetic materials that dry quickly and are relatively warm and comfortable even if they should get wet (from rain, splashing … or worse). Please avoid cotton clothing such as jeans and T-shirts as these do little to keep you warm and are uncomfortable if they get wet. Choose walking trousers or leggings and thermal tops and fleeces instead.

Don’t forget that we can provide a waterproof jacket and trousers designed specifically for paddlesports. The jackets, from size ‘small’ upwards, have built in hoods just in case it rains or gets a bit windy and colder. We suggest taking at least the jacket with you whatever the weather as it is very useful for keeping the wind off once on the open water – it can be surprisingly cool in the breeze away from the shelter of land and trees.

The main thing to remember is a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. This is almost unavoidable when getting in and out of the canoes. The beaches are often covered in rounded, wet rocks or seated, both of which can be slippery, so choose sensibly. We don’t recommend walking or welly boots as these are heavy when wet; instead choose beach shoes, wetsuit boots or an old pair of trainers that have decent grip on the soles.

Finally, a sunhat is almost a necessity even when the sky is a little cloudy. If you have sensitive eyes, then adding sunglasses is really beneficial. However, do make sure they are attached to something with a glasses retainer (or even a piece of string tied to your buoyancy aid) in case they slip off your face when you are looking down into the clear water.

Aside from suitable clothing (see previous question), you don’t really need to bring much with you.

Bringing a camera or phone to record your adventure seems like a great idea, but how do you keep it dry and stop the sand and salt from getting in?

We do have barrels you can use that are almost waterproof, but a camera will rattle around in them as they are thirty litre capacity. When you take it out to use it your hands will be damp and probably salty.

If you choose to bring such items with you, then you do so entirely at your own risk. We strongly suggest you make sure it is appropriately insured.

Generally you should plan on meeting at Otter Adventures / Otterburn B&B in Strontian as that is where we operate from.

However, I can also be mobile and may be able to meet you at or near your accommodation. Most of our guests prefer to travel to Strontian on the day as this gives them an opportunity to see a different part of the peninsulas and paddle on a new stretch of water. Either way, we will have communicated this in advance and you should see the provisional meeting place an time on your invoice.

As with any outdoor activity, we are dictated by the weather – especially the wind – and the opal may need to change at short notice. SO please ensure you have given me a mobile number that you will be using on holiday in case I need to get in touch to change the plan because the weather has necessitated it.

We will finish where we started – either at Otter Adventures or at your accommodation approximately;ey three hours after meeting. A little more tired, but feeling a great deal more alive!