Canoeing and kayaking have long been popular in Western Australia, and the number of people enjoying stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is growing rapidly. The range of possible paddle adventures is wide: float lazily down tranquil rivers spotting birds, drop a line (see fishing), paddle to secluded beaches, islands and lagoons or experience the rush of surfing waves or riding river rapids. You can also find more detailed information on canoe and kayak trails, including those managed by Parks and Wildlife, at the TrailsWA website.
If you are not a confident swimmer do not go into on onto the water. A properly fitted flotation device or lifejacket is essential and your paddle craft must suitable for the conditions.
Paddling conditions vary greatly through the seasons and throughout the day. For ocean and estuary paddling in particular winds, tides and currents are important factors. Check the Ocean Paddling Be Safe website for more comprehensive information. Marine laws, including those on mandatory safety equipment, apply to ocean paddling (for more information go to the Department of Transport).
The water level and flow rate are especially significant when paddling in rivers. The Avon River, for example, can be virtually dry for long stretches during the summer but by the start of August competitors in Western Australia's biggest paddling event - the Avon Descent - are hoping for enough rain to challenge their skill and fitness on the rapids rather than have to 'port' or carry their craft around them. The Department of Water monitors river levels, but you will need some expert local knowledge to understand what the data means for paddlers.