Night Kayaking at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town - It's a Thing Now!

If you like unusual experiences that are both adventurous and oddly tranquil, night kayaking may be right up your alley (or canal?).  

This unique activity offers you the chance to experience the sunset and twinkling lights of Cape Town while gliding serenely across the calm waters of the V&A Waterfront's canal. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a curious first-timer, it offers beautiful views, a tranquil atmosphere, an upper body workout and if you're lucky (and get a guide like ours), an educational tour cum standup (or rather "sit-down") comedy routine.

Kayaking during sunset - Cape Town

The V&A Waterfront Canal

While the V&A Waterfront may be the most visited tourist destination in Africa (like, on the whole continent), its canal seems to be its best-kept secret. Some people who have lived in Cape Town their entire lives don't even know about it. (True story, guys, it's for realzies here - not like the Cape Town subway that supposedly lies underneath the Green Point Stadium as depicted in the movie Safe House  - Thanks for lying to us, Ryan Reynolds). The canal actually exists. It runs from the CTICC through Battery Park (where the activity actually begins) to the Two Oceans Aquarium or One & Only Hotel. 

I wrote about it once before:


A Guide to the V&A Waterfront Canal and its Boat Cruises


If you know about the canal, you probably know about the City Sightseeing Canal Boat tour that operates here, with its guided commentary in probably something like 16 languages (I'm too lazy to check). You probably also know that people commonly practice StandUp Paddleboarding (SUP) here. 

Standup Paddleboards / SUP on the V&A Waterfront Canal

But you can kayak on it too! 
And now, not just kayak on it, but kayak on it at night!

I was recently treated to this experience (and simultaneously informed that it exists) when an international visitor to Cape Town asked me to accompany her. And it was quite magical! I'm a little surprised more people don't know about it, so I'm here to spread the word. 

Kayaker selfie
Kayak Selfie - moments before the sunset

 While the canal may be scenic AF during the day, it's beautiful in an entirely different way as the sun sets and waters become illuminated by the lights of the Canal District businesses, the upmarket homes of the marina and the city in the distance.  So although they do offer kayak tours throughout the day, the ones at night are more expensive but worth the extra cash.

My Night Kayaking Experience

My travel companion and I booked the 7:00pm slot. We chose this because the tour is 90 minutes long and the sun was scheduled to set at 7:30pm. (This was in February.) This was the perfect start time  – it allowed us to witness the sunset from the water as the city lights flickered to life.

We got to the V&A Waterfront a little early to do some shopping before wandering along to Kayak Adventures at Battery Park. 

Here we met our guide, Jessie, who fitted us with life jackets and gave us a safety briefing and some kayaking technique advice.  

The entire experience was captivating. The gentle lapping of water, the twinkling lights on the surface and the breathtaking sunset created a truly magical atmosphere.

Kayak lights illuminate on night kayak

We kayaked the full length of the manmade canal from Kayak Adventures' pier in Battery Park through the Marina Residential Estate to the One&Only Hotel at the end, around their spa and swimming pool area island (I want to trespass here SO badly!), back through the Marina Residential Estate, past the businesses and hotels of Battery Park to the CTICC and back. 

Highlights of the Experience

Here's what I loved about the tour:

  • Jessie our tour guide was awesome. He provided lots of insightful information with a few anecdotes and some good jokes thrown in. 
Kayak Tour guide at Kayak Adventures Cape Town

  • I enjoyed the "rich people safari" at the Marina Residential Estate: Some incredibly upmarket homes flank the canal. The last time I sailed down this canal I wondered why no one seemed to be enjoying their excessive wealth. (I also wondered how they accumulated their excessive wealth and whether or not it was legal.) But it was nice to see people enjoying their balconies this time. 
  • Watching the reflection of the sunset on the water. - It was beautiful!
  • Seeing someone swimming in the canal. (I'm sure that's not allowed but if you have enough money, is anything off-limits?)
  • I got a full upper-body workout in the process. #armday
  • The boat had lights on it! (And you, know how I feel about things with lights on them.) I mean, book your tour now! Lights!

Night kayaking in Cape Town

Ready to Paddle Under the Stars? 

Here's what you need to know:

What to Wear for Night Kayaking:

  • Comfortable clothes that you don't mind getting wet in. (You're unlikely to get drenched but sometimes the wind did blow a bit of water from the oars in our direction.) 
  • A warm jacket - Cape Town weather can be a bit temperamental.
  • A waterproof camera or a waterproof casing for your phone if you want to take pictures. 

Booking and Essentials:

Kayak Adventures provides all the necessary equipment and life jackets. They also offer secure lockers for your valuables so you don't have to worry about keeping your phone, etc, on you.  

Other things to do nearby:


Kayak lights in V&A Waterfront Canal night kayak

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