New to Paddling

New to Paddling in WA? Then you've come to the right place!

How Do I Start?

It's likely you will start as a recreational paddler. This is what you see when you drive around our state near our waterways. It's people having a great time on our rivers, lakes and sheltered bays. If you are a beginner paddler we recommend your first paddle is on a sheltered body of water. You want to be sheltered from the wind and waves. We also suggest you do some reading or watch some videos showing basic paddling skills. If you have the time and interest we highly recommend completing an Introductory Paddling Course. We occasionally offer a Basic Skills Course and a couple of our clubs provide Introductory courses.

You could also start as a competitive paddler and go straight to weekend racing - usually through a club pathway. There are many paddle sports you can try, such as sprint, slalom, marathon, wildwater, sea kayaking and more.

No matter if you are recreational or competitive, paddling helps improve your mental health and stress levels. Paddling combines cardiovascular activity with low impact strength training for an all round workout. Even the most leisurely paddle will give you a good aerobic work-out.


The equipment requirements will change depending on the location and type of paddling you plan to do, however the essential items you will always need are:

  • Kayak, Canoe 0r Sit-on-top
  • Paddle
  • Life jacket
  • Clothing that can get wet. Thermals, wetsuits and non-cotton based garments will keep you warm
  • Footwear that can get wet, such as wetsuit booties
  • 360° light for low-light and dark conditions
  • Drinking water, hat and sunscreen
  • Spray deck for sit-in craft (optional)

Additional Items, which are very handy to have, can be easy to carry or packed in a waterproof bag can include:

  • First aid kit
  • Repair kit (tape, cable ties, scissors)
  • High energy food
  • Spare clothes
  • Mobile phone
  • Money for coffee or food
  • GPS or activity tracker watch, it's a great idea to know how far you paddled



Here are a few tips to ensure you are safe out on the water. These cover your boat and equipment, things to check and think about before you get on the water.

  • We recommend wearing a life jacket
  • Make sure you are clearly visible when on the water
  • Wear bright clothing, and where appropriate, pick a light-coloured craft
  • Display a light when paddling in the dark or low light
  • Consider reflective tape to increase visibility
  • Keep your equipment in good condition

Before You Go Paddling

  • Check weather and tidal conditions before you head out and adjust your plans accordingly
  • Pick a suitable craft for the conditions and location and set it up for your needs before you start paddling
  • Make sure that you will be paddling within your abilities, feel confident on the water and remain in control of your craft
  • Secure any loose equipment to improve your stability

While On The Water

  • Paddlers have great visibility of their surroundings so we keep and an eye on everyone and everything
  • Stay close to your paddling group
  • Be aware of surrounding vessels, which can include other paddlers, rowing skull, jet skis and larger powered watercraft
  • When passing other craft, keep to the starboard side (right-hand) of the channel

Most of all, have fun, create memorable experiences and enjoy the adventure.

Where can I buy paddling equipment & craft?

There are a number of dedicated paddling stores in WA which can be a one stop shop for all your paddling gear from craft to clothing. These stores and their personal are a valuable resource. They have extensive knowledge and experience about all aspects of paddling. In addition to these, camping and outdoor stores also offer paddling equipment and craft.

We recommend trying craft before buying to ensure that it is fit for purpose. Consider your purchase wisely as craft are made to last for many years, as does good quality clothing and equipment.

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Where Can I Paddle in WA?

There are so many waterways to paddling in WA, it is easier for us to mention the couple of areas you can’t paddle. In the Perth Metropolitan area on the Swan River you can't paddle in the ski area in front of Burswood Park and the Jet Ski area near Narrows Bridge.

To ensure you can paddle as many places as possible Paddle WA works closely with government organisations responsible for waterway access, including disability access.

There are a few sites that are a good resource of where to paddle in WA. See useful links below.