The canoe has long been a form of transportation. History books tell us canoes were developed by Native Americans and not only used to get from one place to another, but for carrying goods to be traded or sold. Originally, canoes were made from large tree trunks that were shaped and hollowed out. They were later made of bark from birch, elm or cedar trees draped over “wooden ribs” that framed the boat.
Today, canoes are mainly a form of recreational transportation. Present-day canoes are made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, fiber glass, plastic, carbon fiber and, of course, old-fashioned wood. And while they still take the riders from place to place, it’s mostly at a leisurely pace, floating down a lazy stream or exploring a beautiful lagoon.
As you might have guessed, Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to launch a canoe during your vacation. Hilton Head Outfitters has plenty of two- and three-person canoes ready to rent and the ideal place for beginners to get their paddles wet: an 11-mile saltwater lagoon system right in our own backyard. The calm waters of the lagoons wind through Palmetto Dunes, where you’ll not only see scenic views of the beautiful homes throughout the resort (you may even see the one you’re renting!), you’ll also see an assortment of Hilton Head wildlife and experience the Lowcountry’s beauty up close and personal.
Tips for beginners:
- Get fitted for the proper sized life jacket. Hilton Head Outfitters will take care of this for you.
- Know where you’re going. We’ll also provide you with a map of the lagoon system. You can choose from several routes, depending on your sense of adventure.
- Know how to properly hold the paddle. We’ll give you a lesson, but here’s a great YouTube video to watch in advance that talks about the “paddler’s box.” Essentially, extend your arms out in front of you and pretend you’re holding a box between them. By holding your arms in this position as you paddle, you’ll maximize your upper body strength.
- Know how to paddle. The basic stroke is called the bow stroke. To do it: Reach out slightly to place the blade of the paddle in the water perpendicular to the canoe. Pull straight back to the stern (the rear of the boat). If there are two people in the boat, each person should paddle on the opposite side and perform the stroke in unison.
- Know how to turn the boat. Canoeing is fun and peaceful and you’ll want to paddle all day. But, at some point, the dinner bell will ring, and after a great day on the water, we guarantee you’ll be hungry. You can turn your boat left, right and completely around by performing the simple J-stroke. The person who sits in the rear of the boat (or stern) does the J-stroke by placing the blade of his/her paddle in the water and pulling backwards. Toward the end of the stroke, this person will push outwards from the canoe in a “J” shape or a reverse “J” shape (it depends on which side of the boat the stroke is being performed).
- Plan to get wet. Even if you don’t jump in the water, the simple act of paddling will bring some water into the boat. Make sure you leave valuables and electronics at home. If you must bring a cell phone, invest in a waterproof bag (they even make inflatable waterproof bags so your phone will float!). Waterproof disposable cameras are also a great idea.
Are you ready to head out on your own Hilton Head canoeing adventure? Two-person canoes begin at $39.99 for the first hour and $10 for each additional hour. Three-person canoes begin at $49.99 for the first hour and $10 for each additional hour. You can search our website for availability, or call us at (866) 650-4132 to reserve a canoe today.