Kajakkollektief’s Beginner’s Guide in 5 Easy Steps

5 min readDec 19, 2020


Kayaking has undeniably become more popular over the last years. And justifiably so! Before I jump into the 5 How-To’s for kayak beginners, I want to tell you about the Top 3 benefits of kayaking;

  1. Working out while looking within

Did you know that the average person burns 375–475 calories per hour kayaking? It doesn’t sound much but trust me, depending on how fast and far you paddle, you will definitely train your arm muscles and feel exhausted afterward. Many sports are so focused on moving our legs so that we often don’t train our arms. You need your arm muscles to move your kayak forward. So you can get good exercise out on the water, whether it’s a lake, a river, or the sea.

2. Spending time with others

Kayaking is a nice opportunity to meet interesting people with similar interests. Kajakkollektief’s aim is to provide people with a fun activity like kayaking that can be done together, while collecting trash from the water together. And how are we fighting the climate crisis if not together as a collective group? Besides that, it is really a great way to work as a team. So grab your group of your closest friends and paddle down a river, through the canals, or at the coastline. Kayaking can be as challenging or relaxing as you and your group desire.

3. Discovering new places

Our wonderful world is full of diverse environments that can be explored from the seat of your kayak. Some people have never experienced this sport, and all I can tell you is that kayaking is the perfect blend of working out and discovering a new place. The picture below marks my very first kayaking experience outside my home country.

Kayaking in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Two years later, the same group of friends and I explored Stockholm by kayak, another great way to discover Sweden’s capital city, which by the way, is built on 14 islands.

Kayaking in Stockholm, Sweden

So what to bring to your first kayak trip with Kajakkollektief?

You basically don’t need to bring anything with you, since Kajakkollektief will provide free kayaks and paddles, plus the cleanup gear. Make sure to wear something comfortable that might get a tiny bit wet and/or dirty.

After you arrive at our meeting shore or dock, Kajakkollektief will give you clear instructions and help you with anything necessary to make your kayak trip a fun success:

Step #1: Decide whether you want to go alone or in a team

There are single kayaks and double kayaks. You can decide whether you want to be fully in control or make this a team’s effort. Kayaking in a single kayak lets you decide which direction you want to paddle, which speed, and how much strength you want to apply. Once you get into your groove, however, a double kayak can be very efficient. Double kayaks are a great choice for pairs where one person might not have the strength to power a kayak on their own.

Step #2: How to sit in a kayak

When you sit in the kayak, you want to make sure to obtain a good posture, make sure to be sitting with a straight back and your legs out in front of you. We will provide kayaks with a backrest that you can pull tighter or make looser to help you sit up more straight and relieve lower back strain. And don’t worry, there is always someone who will hold your hands while you get into the kayak and make sure you don’t fall into the water.

Step #3: Paddling techniques

You’ll want to hold the paddle similar to how you hold the handlebars on a bicycle with your hands gripping down on the paddle. Well, since you probably live in the Netherlands and bike every day this shouldn’t be too difficult for you. If you rest the paddle on top of your head, your elbows should make a 90-degree angle. Make sure the scooped sides of your paddle blades are facing you. Engage your core & twist your torso to lean forward and put the paddle blade fully into the water near your feet. Your paddle does not need to go very deep into the water. Pull back to your seat with the blade and remove it from the water. Just remember, long strokes from your feet to your seat is the way to go. You will automatically learn how to move backward, turn your kayak, and stop your kayak when you first learned how to move forward. Kajakkollektief is looking forward to helping you succeed in this step.

Step #4: Assign your roles and figure out an approach that works for both of you

If you are kayaking together, you might want to assign roles; one person is paddling and the other person is picking up the trash from the canals with the cleanup gear. It surely helps to communicate your actions while sharing a kayak so that the other person can react in time and meet your expectations.

Step #5: Celebrate success together

After you come back from your kayak tour, there are two ways to celebrate your contribution of cleaning up trash from the waters, depending on whether you fished out a lot of trash or came back with almost no trash. I can guarantee you that you will return with at least some trash in your trash bins. So these two outcomes are reason enough to celebrate your success: you cleaned up the canals and made a huge contribution or you came back with almost no trash because Amsterdam’s canal system is somewhat clean, which is good news in itself.

In any case: THANK YOU for your important contribution. Just imagine how the trash would still float in the water if you weren’t the one fishing it out…

Thank you and well done!

Kajakkollektief is looking forward to welcoming you on your (first) kayak experience in Spring. Until then, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to stay tuned and get more insights about this new initiative! See you soon!




Discover Amsterdam with us by kayak while helping us build a cleaner and more sustainable city!