Best Places to Kayak in Georgia

Lake Lanier

Georgia is a state known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. One popular activity for adventure seekers is kayaking. With its diverse waterways, Georgia offers a variety of locations for kayaking enthusiasts to explore.

One of the best places to kayak in Georgia is the Okefenokee Swamp. This unique ecosystem is home to over 400,000 acres of wilderness and is one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems in the world. Visitors can paddle through the swamp’s blackwater trails and witness its stunning wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and bird species.

Another excellent destination for kayaking in Georgia is the Chattahoochee River. This river flows through the heart of Atlanta and offers a scenic urban paddling experience. Kayakers can enjoy city skyline views while navigating the river’s mild rapids and calm stretches. The Chattahoochee also provides access to several parks and recreation areas, making it a popular spot for families and outdoor enthusiasts.


Top Picks: Best Places to Kayak in Georgia

  • Chattahoochee River
  • Altamaha River
  • Tybee Island
  • Lake Lanier


1. Chattahoochee River

Chattahoochee River


  • The Chattahoochee River stretches approximately 430 miles (692 kilometers) from its headwaters in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia to its confluence with the Flint River at Lake Seminole, forming the border between Alabama and Georgia.
  • The river’s headwaters begin in the Chattahoochee National Forest in northeast Georgia.
  • The Chattahoochee River is known for its varying water flows.
  • The river is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and offers various recreational activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, and whitewater rafting.
  • The Chattahoochee River is vital for numerous communities, including Atlanta, Georgia.

The Chattahoochee River is one of Georgia’s most popular kayaking destinations. It offers a variety of experiences for kayakers of all skill levels, from peaceful flatwater paddling to exciting whitewater rapids. The river flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia down to the Gulf of Mexico, passing through several major cities.

The Atlanta section of the Chattahoochee River is an excellent place for beginners to start. It is easily accessible and offers calm, flatwater paddling. Several put-in and take-out points along the river make planning a trip of any length easy. The section also offers stunning views of the city skyline and surrounding parks.

The Columbus section of the Chattahoochee River is a popular destination for experienced kayakers. It features Class II-IV whitewater rapids, including the famous Cut Bait rapid. The section also offers scenic views of the river and surrounding forests. It is recommended that only experienced kayakers attempt this section, as the rapids can be challenging.

Overall, the Chattahoochee River is a must-visit destination for kayakers in Georgia. Its variety of experiences and stunning scenery offers something for everyone.


Pros: Cons:
ProsThe Chattahoochee River offers stunning natural beauty with scenic views, lush vegetation, and wildlife. ConsThe water levels and conditions in the Chattahoochee River can vary depending on the weather and other factors.
ProsThe river provides various recreational opportunities, including fishing, birdwatching, and photography. ConsA popular destination for various water activities, including kayaking, canoeing, and motorized boating.
ProsA great way to stay active and improve your physical fitness. ConsThe weather in Georgia can be unpredictable, and sudden changes in weather conditions can impact your kayaking plans.
ProsHas sections suitable for kayakers of all skill levels, including beginners. ConsLimited Access Points
ProsThe Chattahoochee River is home to diverse wildlife, including fish, turtles, birds, and occasionally even otters and beavers. ConsLimited Access Points



2. Altamaha River

Altamaha River


  • The Altamaha River is approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) long and has a drainage basin covering around 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers).
  • Formed by the confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers near Lumber City, Georgia.
  • One of the largest and most diverse riverine estuaries in the United States.
  • Several sandbars and islands along its course
  • Natural and Scenic Beauty

Kayaking on the Altamaha River is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Georgia. The river offers a variety of paddling experiences, from calm stretches to more challenging rapids. The river also has several access points, making planning a trip that fits your skill level and interests easy.

One popular section of the river for kayaking is the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area. This area features a 13-mile stretch of the river known for its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. The area is also home to several campsites, making it an excellent destination for a multi-day kayaking trip.

Another popular section of the river is the Altamaha River Water Trail. This trail is a 137-mile river stretch perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and other water activities. The trail features several access points and campsites, making planning a trip that fits your needs easy.

Overall, the Altamaha River is a great place to kayak in Georgia. With its diverse wildlife, scenic beauty, and variety of paddling experiences, it is a must-visit destination for any kayaker in the state.


Pros: Cons:
ProsHome to a rich and diverse ecosystem supporting various plant and animal species. ConsPollution reduction efforts are ongoing but remain a concern.
ProsThe Altamaha River meanders through picturesque landscapes, including cypress swamps, bottomland hardwood forests, and tidal marshes. ConsHuman activities, such as land development and deforestation, can destroy and fragment critical habitats along the river.
ProsThe river offers various recreational activities like fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. Cons Prone to flooding, particularly during heavy rain events and hurricanes.
ProsThe Altamaha River has significantly influenced Georgia’s history and culture. ConsThe river faces challenges from invasive species, such as the flathead catfish and the Burmese python.



3. Tybee Island

Kayaking in Tybee Island


  • Tybee Island is known for its beautiful, sandy beaches stretching about 5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Tybee Island Light Station is one of Tybee’s most iconic landmarks.
  • Located on the northern tip of Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski is a historic fort that played a significant role in the American Civil War.
  • The Tybee Island Marine Science Center is an educational facility that promotes the conservation and understanding of Georgia’s coastal ecosystems.
  • Pier and Pavilion are famous for fishing, strolling, and enjoying beautiful ocean views.

Tybee Island is a popular destination for kayaking enthusiasts in Georgia. Located just 20 minutes from Savannah, Tybee Island offers a variety of kayaking opportunities for all skill levels.

The Back River is one of the most popular spots for kayaking on Tybee Island. The Back River is a tidal river between Tybee Island and Little Tybee Island. Kayakers can explore the marshes and creeks surrounding the Back River and may even spot dolphins and other wildlife.

For those looking for a more challenging kayaking experience, the waters around Tybee Island’s North Beach can be rougher and choppy. However, experienced kayakers can enjoy the thrill of navigating the waves and exploring the rocky coastline.

Kayak rentals are available on Tybee Island, and several guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about the area’s history and ecology. Some popular tour companies include Sea Kayak Georgia and Tybee Island Kayak Tours.

Overall, Tybee Island is an excellent destination for kayaking in Georgia. With its beautiful scenery and variety of kayaking opportunities, it’s no wonder many people explore the waters around Tybee Island by kayak.


Pros: Cons:
ProsIt boasts pristine sandy beaches with clear waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and various water activities such as surfing, kayaking, and fishing. ConsExperiences high tourist traffic during the summer months, leading to crowded beaches and increased difficulty finding parking.
ProsA relaxed and laid-back vibe offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. ConsThere are few local shops, restaurants, and bars, but it lacks the extensive range of shopping centers, entertainment venues, and nightlife options found in larger cities.
ProsApart from the beaches, Tybee Island is home to stunning natural landscapes, including salt marshes, dunes, and wildlife preserves. Cons Limited Healthcare Facilities
ProsThe island provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as boating, jet skiing, paddleboarding, and biking.  



4. Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier.jpg


  • Lake Lanier covers an area of approximately 38,000 acres (150 square kilometers).
  • Its shoreline stretches for about 692 miles (1,114 kilometers), providing ample space for various recreational activities.
  • The primary purpose of Lake Lanier is to provide water supply to the city of Atlanta and its surrounding areas.
  • Lake Lanier offers a wide range of recreational activities for visitors.
  • Lake Lanier features several islands, both natural and man-made.
  • The lake is surrounded by numerous parks and campgrounds that offer facilities for camping, picnicking, and hiking.

Lake Lanier is a popular destination for kayaking enthusiasts in Georgia. With over 38,000 acres of water, it offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages.

The lake’s clear waters are perfect for kayaking, and there are several launch points around the lake. Kayakers can explore the lake’s many coves and inlets or paddle out to the open water for a more challenging experience.

One popular route is the Buford Dam to Lower Pool Park, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Another popular option is the Two Mile Creek to Van Pugh Park route, which takes kayakers through a scenic lake area with plenty of wildlife to spot along the way.

Lake Lanier also offers several amenities for kayakers, including picnic areas, restrooms, and parking. In addition, several rental companies around the lake offer kayaks and other equipment for visitors who need their own.

Overall, Lake Lanier is a fantastic destination for kayaking in Georgia. Its clear waters, scenic routes, and convenient amenities make it a must-visit for anyone looking for a fun and relaxing kayaking experience.


Pros: Cons:
ProsLake Lanier offers many recreational activities, including boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, and camping. ConsThe creation of Lake Lanier involved flooding large areas, resulting in the loss of natural habitats and displacement of wildlife.
ProsThe picturesque lake has beautiful landscapes, lush forests, and stunning views. ConsHas experienced periods of drought, leading to concerns about water availability.
ProsContributes significantly to the local economy by attracting tourists and visitors. Cons The allocation and usage of water from Lake Lanier have been the subject of legal and political disputes between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.
ProsThe lake is a crucial water source for Atlanta and the surrounding areas.  



Why Kayak in Georgia?

Georgia has plenty of natural beauty, and kayaking is one of the best ways to experience it. Here are a few reasons why kayaking in Georgia should be on everyone’s bucket list:

  • Abundant waterways – Georgia has a vast network of rivers, lakes, and streams, providing kayakers with diverse waterways to explore. From the Chattahoochee River to Lake Lanier, kayaking enthusiasts have many options.
  • Scenic beauty – Kayaking in Georgia offers unparalleled views of the state’s natural beauty. Paddling through the calm waters of a lake or down a meandering river provides a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape. From lush forests to rocky cliffs, Georgia’s waterways offer a variety of breathtaking scenery.
  • Wildlife sightings – Kayaking in Georgia also allows spotting various wildlife in their natural habitats. From turtles and fish to birds and even alligators, kayakers can witness Georgia’s diverse wildlife up close and personal.
  • Accessible for all skill levels – Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, Georgia’s waterways offer something for everyone. From calm lakes to more challenging rapids, plenty of options suit all skill levels.


Best Time to Kayak in Georgia


Kayaking in Georgia can be a year-round activity. Still, there are certain times of the year when the weather is more favorable and the water conditions are better for kayaking.

The best time to kayak in Georgia is during the spring and fall seasons, particularly from March to May and September to November. During these months, the weather is mild and comfortable, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-80s. The water levels are also usually higher, providing better conditions for kayaking.

Summer is also a popular time to kayak in Georgia, but it can be pretty hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching the 90s. It’s essential to stay hydrated and protected from the sun when kayaking during the summer months.

Winter kayaking is possible in Georgia but is less popular due to the colder temperatures and lower water levels. However, if you’re up for the challenge, winter kayaking can provide a unique and peaceful experience.

It’s essential to check the weather and water conditions before kayaking in Georgia, as sudden storms and changing water levels can be dangerous. It’s also recommended to wear appropriate safety gear, such as a life jacket, and to let someone know your kayaking plans and expected return time.

The best time to kayak in Georgia is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather and water conditions are more favorable.


Georgia Kayaking Laws and Regulations

Kayaking is a popular recreational activity in Georgia, but knowing the laws and regulations is essential before hitting the water. Here are some of the fundamental rules to keep in mind:

  • Life Jackets – Georgia law requires all boaters, including kayakers, to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on the water. Children under 13 must always wear a life jacket, including kayaks, while on a moving vessel.
  • Boating Under the Influence – It is illegal to operate a kayak or any other vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Georgia. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for boaters is 0.08 percent, the same as for drivers on the road.
  • Navigation Lights – If you plan to kayak after sunset or before sunrise, you must have navigation lights on your vessel. These lights must be visible from a distance of at least two miles and displayed from sunset to sunrise.
  • Waterway Markers – Kayakers must obey all waterway markers, including no-wake zones and speed limits. If a marker indicates a no-wake zone, you must reduce your speed to idle speed and avoid creating any wake.
  • Fishing Regulations – If you plan to fish from your kayak, you must have a valid Georgia fishing license. Additionally, you must follow all state fishing regulations, including size and bag limits.

By following these rules and regulations, kayakers can enjoy a safe and enjoyable experience on Georgia’s waterways.

Kayaking is like meditation on the water



In conclusion, Georgia offers many beautiful places to kayak for both beginners and experienced kayakers. Georgia has something for everyone, from the serene rivers and lakes to the challenging rapids.

The state’s diverse landscape, including the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain, provides a unique experience for kayakers. The rivers and lakes are surrounded by lush forests, scenic views, and abundant wildlife, making it an ideal place for nature lovers.

Kayakers can also enjoy the historical landmarks and cultural attractions that Georgia has to offer. The state has a rich history, and kayaking is an excellent way to explore it. Paddling through the Okefenokee Swamp, kayakers can learn about the region’s history and ecology.

Overall, Georgia is an excellent place for kayaking. With its beautiful scenery, diverse landscape, and rich history, kayakers will always have places to explore. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, Georgia has something to offer, and it’s worth a visit.

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