7 Best Places to Paddle and Rent Kayaks in Houston
IF YOU LEFT THE LAST BUFFALO BAYOU REGATTA you feel inspired to go paddling on your own, you’re in luck: although Houston isn’t always considered a city with many outdoor recreation activities, there is actually plenty of canoeing and kayaking to do.
In addition to the increasingly popular 26 miles Buffalo Bayou Paddle Trail – the first in town, designated by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which takes you from Interstate 6 to Allen’s Landing in the middle of downtown – Houston is home to a variety of waterways suitable for kayaks.
Beginners and children can enjoy the 4.8 miles Cooks Lake to Scatterman Paddling Trail in Beaumont, which offers abundant wildlife along the cypress lined Neches River. Those looking for something more epic should seek out the 35.4-mile Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail in Brazoria County, made up of four connected waterways: the Columbia Bottomland, which begins the trail at Brazos River County Park; the Passage of the old colonythe Sugar Mill Stretch and the Gulf Prairie Race which ends in Freeport.
Most of us, however, don’t have kayaks or the vehicles to transport them. That’s where these local businesses come in, giving you all the training, instruction, life jackets and watercraft you’ll need to enjoy an afternoon on the water, with no commitment to buy. a canoe.
Below is an overview of the best spots for kayak, SUP, canoe and pedalo rental and excursions:
Best known as the outfit that provides watercraft at Buffalo Bayou Park, this company also offers tours and rentals across town, with everything from stand-up paddleboards at Discovery Green and surf lessons at Surfside to private tours of paddling from Green Bayou and Armand Bayou. You can even buy season passes which give you unlimited rentals at both Discovery Green and Sugar Land Memorial Park, where Bayou City Adventures recently began offering kayak and paddleboard rentals along the Brazos River.
At Lake Conroe, you can cross the water on a jet ski or, for a quarter of the price from this outfitter, you can rent a kayak and glide past the pines. 1097 Watersports, who can point you to lots of pretty trails to hike around the lake, also offer canoe rentals and private boat rentals if you’re planning a party. Even better, you can book everything online.
On this operation on Clear Lake in Seabrook, you can learn to sail everything from sailfish to panfish to catamaran. But the aptly named Let’s Go Sailing also offers canoe and kayak rentals, picking you up and dropping you off at your request, meaning all you have to do is sit back, relax and paddle. You’ll also find tours of Armand Bayou and the lesser-known Jarboe Bayou, plus special prices and discounts all around: sunset sessions between 5 and 7 p.m. are less than half ($20 for a single kayak during two hours, as opposed to the standard $50) while rental fees are waived for law enforcement, retired military and “ministers of all faiths”.
Hermann Park Conservancy offers a fun and easy way to get out on the water with a hands-free, less conventional paddle ride (you still have to use your feet to pedal!). Take the family for a day at Lake McGovern to see fish, ducks, and waterfowl that call the 8-acre lake in Hermann Park home. Open seven days a week from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m., this makes it a great midweek destination. The cost is $12 per boat for 30 minutes. The boats can accommodate up to four people. For hours and information on riding the pedal boats, visit the website.
Head north of town to Woodlands Lake for Boathouse by the lakes, located in Hughes Landing and open to the public. The new facility offers kayak and paddleboard rentals just steps from Restaurant Row, Whole Foods and the Woodlands Lake Boardwalk. Rental options include single kayaks, tandem kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they have a second location at Riva Row Boat House, located on the lower waterway, and it’s about a leisurely 20-25 minutes to reach Lake Woodlands by boat from the docks. Prices range from $20 to $30 for one to four hours of paddling. Business hours for Lakes Edge Boat House are Thursday-Sunday 9am-sunset. The last chance to rent a boat is one hour before sunset.
If you’re looking for a peaceful, more nature-focused kayaking experience, drive 30 minutes north of the Woodlands to North Lake Conroe Paddling Co. Located on the northeast side of Lake Conroe, also known as the low-key side with less boat traffic, you will find a serene view, perfect for paddling in peace. Additionally, the north side of Lake Conroe is the gateway to Sam Houston National Forest. Fees and services vary, but prices have stayed the same for 19 years, according to owner Lawrence “Larry” Mason. Services include solo, tandem, youth and fishing kayak rentals, as well as SUP boards. Prices start at $30 for two hours of kayaking and include all fees, kayak, paddling and safety equipment, free area maps and dry bags. One must reserve.
Discover wildlife you never knew existed in the Houston area as you paddle the lesser-known Armand Bayou watershed and its surrounding waterways. Pinky’s Kayak Rentals begins your wildlife adventure at Bay Area Park, where you can paddle through five different areas: Big Island Slough, Spring Gully, Armand Bayou, Horsepen Bayou and Lake Mark Kramer. Services include single, tandem (two person) kayaks and three self-guided tours per day: 8 am, 11 am and 2 pm. Prices range from $45 per single kayak for three hours, $55 per tandem kayak for three hours, and group rates of five or more receive a 20% discount. Pinky’s Kayak Rentals is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are required for all services and can be made by phone or from website. The website even has some alligator safety tips, just in case you end up passing one.