Inspiring Canoe and Kayaking Quotes

These canoe and kayaking quotes describe the freedom and joy of escaping into the watery wildernesses of the world. From environmentalists to authors, native Americans to cartoon bears, many have understood and expressed their personal findings on the wisdom that water and kayaking brings. 

The name “kayak” was coined from the Inuit word “qayaq”. It originated with the Inuits of Greenland and was later also used by Alaskan Inuit tribes. Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska. The Inuit languages are part of the Eskimo–Aleut family.

Kayaks were built by stretching seal or other animal skins over a driftwood or whalebone frame and rubbing them with animal fat to waterproof the covering. The kayak’s shallow draft, narrow width, and quiet operation allowed Inuit hunters to explore tightly constricted waterways with great stealth and harvest more game.


“The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.”

– Lynn Culbreath Noel

©Luis Lopes

“Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your element in each moment.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was an American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher, renowned for having lived the doctrines of Transcendentalism as recorded in his masterwork, Walden (1854), and for having been a vigorous advocate of civil liberties, as evidenced in the essay “Civil Disobedience” (1849).

Get inspired by these Motivational Life and Workout Quotes for Women, by Women

“There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude and peace.”

– Sigurd F. Olson

“The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten.”

– Sigurd F. Olson

Kayaking Quotes by Sigurd Ferdinand

Sigurd Ferdinand Olson was an American author, environmentalist, and advocate for the protection of wilderness. For more than thirty years, he served as a wilderness guide in the lakes and forests of the Quetico-Superior country of northern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario.

Man in kayak next to iceberg
Time to explore

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

– Winnie the Pooh

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fibre and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.”

John Muir

“With one foot in the canoe, and one foot on shore, you are sure to fall into the river.”

– Tuscarora proverb

The Tuscarora, self-name Skarù∙ręʔ (“People of the Shirt”) were an Iroquoian-speaking Native American tribe. When first encountered by Europeans in the 17th century, the Tuscarora occupied what is now North Carolina. They were noted for their use of indigenous hemp for fibre and medicine. Traditionally, the Tuscarora depended heavily on cultivating corn (maize); they were also expert hunters.

“Canoes, too, are unobtrusive; they don’t storm the natural world or ride over it, but drift in upon it as a part of its own silence. As you either care about what the land is or not, so do you like or dislike quiet things–sailboats, or rainy green mornings in foreign places, or a grazing herd, or the ruins of old monasteries in the mountains…Chances for being quiet nowadays are limited.”

– John Graves

“A canoe does not know who is king. When it turns over, everyone gets wet.”

– Malagasy Proverb

Malagasy peoples consist of about 20 ethnic groups in Madagascar. The largest group is the Merina, who primarily inhabit the central plateau. The second-largest group is the Betsimisaraka, who live generally in the east. The third is the Betsileo, who inhabit the plateau around Fianarantsoa. Others include the Tsimihety, the Sakalava, the Antandroy, the Tanala, the Antaimoro, and the Bara. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Malagasy-peoples

Kayak on dark lake with mountains
©Benjamin Davies

“What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.”  

– Pierre Trudeau

“Paddling a canoe is a source of enrichment and inner renewal.”

– Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau was a Canadian politician who was the 15th prime minister of Canada and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, between 1968 and 1984, with a brief period as Leader of the Opposition, from 1979 to 1980.

“Voyager upon life’s sea, to yourself be true, and whatever your lot may be, paddle your own canoe.”

– Sarah T. Bolton

“Travel by canoe is not a necessity, and will nevermore be the most efficient way to get from one region to another, or even from one lake to another anywhere. A canoe trip has become simply a rite of oneness with certain terrain, a diversion off the field, an art performed not because it is a necessity but because there is value in the art itself.”

– John McPhee

“You can’t fire a cannon, from a canoe!”

– Charles Poliquin

“About the best reason I can think of for owning a canoe is that it can take me into wilderness. And what, you may ask, is so great about wilderness? The silence, for one thing.”

– Robert Kimber

“The goal of a wilderness canoe trip should be to collect enough of the wilderness experience to last the whole year… A full cup is the only way that the winter can be endured.”

– Kayaking quotes from Greg Went

kayaker with hand in the water
Reconnect with the natural world ©Aaron Lee

“The two best reasons to buy a kayak rather than just renting are sunsets and sunrises.”

– Thomas P. Jones

“You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”

– Mark Twain

Quotes about running.

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

– Herman Melville

“As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.”

– Katharine Hepburn

“The traveller is active; she went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; she expects interesting things to happen to her. She goes ‘sight-seeing.”

– Daniel J. Boorstin


“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.”

– William Wordsworth

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.”

– Edgar Allan Poe

Quotes about hiking.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

– A.A. Milne

“A man of wisdom delights in water.”

– Confucius

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

– Heraclitus

“I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure… It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. There is stagnation only in security.”

– William Orville Douglas

Quotes about climbing.

“Don’t try to steer the river.”

kayaking quotes
Kayaking quotes for people that love life ©Taneli Lahtinen

– Deepak Chopra

“Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go.”

– Blaise Pascal

If you enjoyed these canoe and kayaking love to escape into the outdoors then try these quote about mountains.

Check out these reasons to love kayaking.

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