Consider a kayak date with your mate

KayakGetting out on the water together can provide valuable bonding time for couples, and kayaking is an easy way to achieve this — especially in Central Maryland where there are plenty of places to paddle.

“It’s fun to spend an hour or two with someone, catching up. It’s kind of a hectic world. ... You can unplug and really enjoy it,” says Chris Dollar, owner and operator of Centreville Outdoors, which rents and sells kayaks.

When the Smolen family moved from downtown Baltimore to Crownsville, they found a sign left outside saying, “Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe”— fitting advice for a household backing up to the Severn River.

Paddling has, in fact, become a favorite pastime for the Smolens, but they prefer kayaks.

“It’s a nice way to see nature from another vantage point,” says Jenny Smolen. “If you’re in a quiet river area, you can see crabs, great blue herons, osprey diving for food, ducks, etc.”

Dollar says he sees many couples go out together kayaking. Some are on a first date; others have been together for years, he says.

Several area boathouses offer classes on kayaking, but Dollar says the basic instructions he gives couples when they rent are usually enough to get beginners started.

“It just takes a little balance and a little adventure,” he says. The hardest part is getting in and out of the boat.

Single kayaks are available to rent as well as tandem (or double) kayaks for those who want to be in the same boat. If paddling in a tandem, Smolen advises finding a kayak with a rudder to help with steering.

“Rudders save marriages,” she jokes. “My recommendation is to rent two single kayaks or spend the little extra to get a rudder. Especially if you want to go on a follow-up date.”

Click next below for five spots great for a kayak date.

Kayak2Five spots great for a kayak date

Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Bladensburg
At this Prince George's County park, the Anacostia River provides a calm, picturesque waterway to get up close to birds, turtles and the surrounding wetlands. After a kayaking trip, enjoy one of the Anacostia River pontoon boat tours offered by the county parks and recreation department.
Prince George's County Department of Recreation and Parks
4601 Annapolis Rd.
Rentals – Single and double kayaks available. $20/day county residents; $26/day nonresidents.
Hours – May-October; weekdays, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.; weekends, 9 a.m-5 p.m.
301-699-2255,, click on nature, Bladensburg Waterfront Park and rentals (or boat tours for the pontoon tour).

Centennial Park, Ellicott City
Howard County residents flock to Centennial Park for summertime evening concerts, playgrounds and the 2.4-mile path around Centennial Lake. Not everyone knows, however, that you can also view the serene lake from the water by renting boats, including kayaks. The county offers basic paddling classes at Centennial once or twice a month. A flat-water basic kayaking class is offered June 17, 6:30-9 p.m.
Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks
4651 Centennial Lane
Rentals – $10/hour
Hours – Weekdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; weekends and some holidays, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
410-313-7303, or for the paddling class,

Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis
Quiet Waters is an apt name for both the park and the experience of paddling on the water there. Rent a kayak in the park from the company Paddle or Pedal and explore Harness Creek and the South River, where you can observe wildlife such as blue heron, osprey, deer and other wildlife. To get you started, Paddle or Pedal holds classes on Saturday mornings as well several tours each weekend, including a sunset tour. A kayak launch from the dock is available to make it easy to get in and out of the boat.
600 Quiet Waters Park Rd., Annapolis
Fee – $6/car to enter the park
Rentals – Single kayak, $15/hour, $45/daily; double kayak, $20/hour, $60/daily
Hours –Wed.-Mon., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Capitol Riverfront, Washinton, D.C.
Rent a kayak from Boating in DC and enjoy the sights and sounds of the riverfront in the nation's capital — including views of the Capitol, Navy Yard and Nationals Stadium. An ideal date might be the Capitol Riverfront Twilight Tour, which is great for beginner paddlers.
Boating in DC, Ballpark Boathouse location
Potomac Avenue SE and First Street SE, Washington, D.C.
Rentals – Single kayak, $16/hour; double kayak, $22/hour; twilight tour, $45
Hours – Call for hours

Corsica River, Centreville
The Corsica River provides a quiet, picturesque place for people to explore the Eastern Shore from the water. Centreville Outdoors rents kayaks to those interested in giving it a try, including single and tandem kayaks as well as more elaborate fishing kayaks. A launch dock is available to help kayakers get in and out. Many birds and wildlife can be observed along the river, including a heron rookery that is a 30- to 45-minute paddle from the launch.
Centreville Outdoors
101 Water Way
Rentals – Single kayak, $20/hour or $50/4 hours; double kayak, $24/hour, $60/4 hours.
Hours – Weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p .m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

by Karen Stysley

Photos courtesy of Howard County Recreation and Parks