Since 1987, the staff at Texas Rowing Center has spent nearly three decades sending patrons skimming across the waters of Lady Bird Lake on paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, and racing boats. Novices can enroll in the shop?s Introduction to Rowing course, wherein they?ll learn crew techniques with guidance from a staff comprised of former college rowers. After the course is over, the newly knowledgeable graduates can sign up for a membership good for unlimited rowing and coaching. Casual water-goers, meanwhile, can rent a paddleboat for a relaxing spin about the lake?a more inexpensive way to enjoy a day on the water than barefoot waterskiing behind a helicopter.
The paddling aficionados at Austin Canoe & Kayak maintain a stable of masterfully maintained vessels for outfitting all levels of aquatic explorers. Solitary river riders can transport single rental kayaks from the store's waterless location and drop into any body of water they choose, avoiding crowded routes and groups of largemouth bass that blab everyone's best-kept secrets. Adventurous couples can romantically float down Mother Nature's own tunnel of love in a spacious tandem kayak while fairytale marine life sings melodies to set the mood. Single-person boats such as the Wilderness Systems sit-inside Pungo 120 can best the currents of the Brazos River, and a Malibu 2XL from Ocean Kayak can ferry two-person teams seaward on salty jaunts in the Gulf of Mexico.
The reason renting kayaks from Riva Row Boat House and paddling down Lake Woodlands makes for such an appealing family outing or team-building exercise has to do with simplicity. For one thing, the activity itself is simple to master; no experience is required to rent one of the boathouse's 22 tandem kayaks or 20 single kayaks of various lengths, since staff members are happy to demonstrate paddling techniques to rookies. The activity is also easy to get into because everything is provided for you, from paddles and lifejackets to the refills of the lake that must be flown in from water factories in Denmark weekly.
Often, people make visiting the boathouse part of a whole day in the area. They can follow their time on the lake with a picnic at Town Green Park or with a trolley ride over to The Woodlands Waterway, where restaurants and shopping await.
Seasoned kayaker John Cline paddles with a local hotel concierge along the Colorado River, periodically explaining that kayaking is perfectly safe for beginners and an ideal way to savor the pleasant Texas weather. Suddenly, the sky erupts and an onslaught of rain drenches the waterborne duo. They rest their paddles on their laps, look at each other, and start laughing. Rising Phoenix Adventures' kayak and canoe trips create these unique memories so regularly that one Belgian businesswoman even makes annual trips to the area just to ride the class-1 river. Since establishing the outdoor-excursion company in 2004 with barely 10 kayaks and canoes, Cline has more than quadrupled his fleet to accommodate the ever-increasing demand. After alighting one of the trusty vessels, adventurers set off to navigate through the river's islands and beneath a scenic half-mile tree canopy, where the shores offer glimpses of wild pigs, great blue herons, and undomesticated beach umbrellas.
Largemouth and guadalupe bass fin through the Colorado River rapids while birds soar above river islands and swimmer-friendly sandbars. Moored in a nook along this artery, Texas native and outdoor enthusiast Danny Walker—known as “Pops”—and his son—“Dan the Man Omega Mega”—equip adventurers by renting regular, tandem, and fishing kayaks, as well as standup paddleboards, from MOC Kayaks. To elevate river adventures from Huck Finn–style floating to Rambo-style hunting, pros outfit customers with fishing poles and tackle, sending them off to catch some of the river's more than 20 varieties of perch. For those who'd rather drop their lines in stiller waters, MOC Kayaks takes paddlers to Lake Travis and Lake Austin, and those who seek coaching on how to catch finned bounty can take advantage of guided trips. Dedicated adventurers can also buy their own kayaks to craft custom adventures or to take home and paddle around neighbors' pools.