Boasting one of the most captivating natural settings in Ontario, Niagara Region is home to a number of rich outdoor adventure landscapes awaiting those ready to fill their lungs with fresh air and venture out to discover.
But the problem for many is: they’ve seen it. They have hiked the gorges. They have cycled the trails. They have walked and scooted and rolled their way around every nook and cranny of the beautiful peninsula. It is time to breathe new life into the same backdrop and add a fresh perspective on the beloved Niagara outdoors.
And there is only one way to discover a fresh perspective in our own familiar backyard; the secret is to paddle.
There is something captivating about spending time on the water in a kayak: water enthusiasts annually take to Niagara’s rivers with this vessel of choice to discover a new perception on Niagara’s natural habitat, beautiful shorelines and local wildlife. But for many, especially for the tourists visiting the region and many apartment dwelling locals, easy access to both kayaks and the water is limited.
Niagara Kayak Rentals removes the struggle from getting onto the water and allows it to simply be easy and fun for all. The first entirely mobile kayak rental company in the region, the family run business is 100 per cent user friendly; not only will they meet you at the launch location and supply all of the equipment – including user-friendly kayaks, lifejackets, water bottles, rain jackets and dry pack bags for your belongings – they will even lend instruction to new paddlers and pick all of the equipment up after you are done. So all your group has to do is show up ready to enjoy a day out on the water.
“We take all of the trouble out of the equation,” said Lisa Palmer, owner of Niagara Kayak Rentals.
“We fully facilitate the launch; we bring all of the equipment and anything else you may need for a day out on the water – then pick it up after you are done. We will even pick a group up at their hotel and drop them off at a winery or other location afterwards. We try to make it as easy as possible.”
Directed towards paddlers of all skill levels yearning for something different [with the appropriate swimming ability and confidence on the water], Niagara Kayak Rentals services all water ways in the region from the lower Niagara River to Lake Ontario; an area steeped in a rich history and natural beauty.
“Anywhere there is water that you can access by foot, we can launch from,” said Palmer. “There is zero other ways to enjoy those shorelines unless you are in a jet boat.”
Serviced waterways include the popular Niagara-on-the-Lake beach launch, Chippewa Creek, the Port Dalhousie Launch tour and guided tours that travel down from Queenston Heights; each offering their one unique set of wildlife habitats, nesting grounds and historic sights.
The mobile company’s fleet includes a full complement of 40 Canadian-made recreational, light touring kayaks. Both single and tandem kayaks are available to rent and ideal for families, couples, corporate team building groups and others in between.
“Transporting equipment can suck the joy out of the sport – it is a lot of work and these boats are heavy,” said Palmer. “It is about making getting out on the water easy and accessible to everyone.”
Palmer said the company began when her and her family noticed a strong need for increased water sports and light recreational use of the Niagara River. With her background in heritage conservation in both natural and built sectors and as an active member of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s sailing community, the company was simply a perfect fit for her and her three children.
“I have a natural inclination towards a less intrusive way of enjoying this corridor,” said Palmer. “It is such a beautiful, natural bird biosphere. And rather than my teenage children working summer jobs in hot restaurant kitchens, we thought what an opportunity here, that we could offer a service to both locals and
tourists alike that was easy and offered a low carbon footprint.”
All three of her children, along with the other employees, are avid paddlers and hold varying degrees of certification from Paddle Canada. Each season, the team undergoes training to ensure they are prepared to help guide newcomers to the river and make the trips as easy and enjoyable as possible. All paddlers are required to listen to the tutorial provided by the team leaders and fill out the company’s waiver before heading out on the water.
“[The staff] is trained to profile our guests to ensure they are in the appropriate equipment and offer a tutorial on safety and basic kayaking instructions,” said Palmer. “We cater to all types of groups, age brackets and paddling skill levels. We even cater to groups with prosthetic legs; we have trained our staff how to add counterweights to the boats so they can remove their prosthetic legs and be comfortable for hours out on the water.”
And as they enter their fourth season on the water, they hold a zero incident record and pride themselves on their steady growth.
With this growth, Palmer has expanded the company’s website to include an online booking section and pre-pay option as to better facilitate same day launches and make it easy for groups traveling from out of town to reserve boats and schedule tours with confidence.
“We can exceed 100 launches a day and the majority of the volume that we do on weekends is a lot of walk ups,” said Palmer. “We get lots of people who at the last minute decide that it is a beautiful day, they want to get out on the water, so they come to us. Online booking will allow us to better accommodate those last minute additions and have them feel assured that they have their time booked.”
Though Niagara Kayak Rentals has a retail location on Niagara Stone Road in Virgil, Palmer wants kayakers to understand that the business is not located in a single spot. The best place to reach herself and the team is always through the website or email.
“The beauty of being a mobile service is that we can literally be in the middle of Lake Ontario and still be able to process a credit card,” said Palmer. “This allows us to move with the paddlers and still cater to those not yet on the water.”
Rates vary according to style of kayak rented and chosen launch location.
All information on rates, how to book, where to download the waiver and contact information is available at niagarakayak.com.