Courses > Kayaking

Wilderness Leadership Institute (WLI) offers sea kayaking courses and expeditions throughout California, Alaska and Baja Mexico. WLI caters to all skill levels through the facilitation of the national recognized curriculum and certifications of the American Canoe Association (ACA). From sheltered water to open seas and surf landing WLI will teach you the skills you need to safely explore wild and scenic coastlines.


Introduction to Kayaking (Level 1) $130

Introduction to Kayaking focuses on skills needed for any type of kayak including but not limited to sit on tops, recreational, folding and inflatable. Presentations include dressing to paddle safely and potential paddling hazards. Simple rescues are demonstrated by instructors while students learn the paddling skills to maneuver safely and comfortably on still water. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Flat Water Kayak Safety & Rescue (Level 1) $130

This course introduces essential flat-water safety practices and rescue techniques that can be performed with a minimum of equipment, in the first few minutes of an emergency. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Essentials of Kayak Touring (Level 2) $130

This course focuses on traveling safely and efficiently by kayak of the types designated as sit on top, folding, inflatable and “recreational.” There is more emphasis on practicing simple rescue sequences, understanding the basics of tides and currents, use of a compass, rules for paddling in channels with and without boat traffic, use of VHF and weather radios and other emergency equipment. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes & Rescues (Level 3) $130

This course focuses on traveling safely and efficiently by kayak of the type designated as a sea kayak with bulkheads or flotation. There is more emphasis on self-rescue and assisted-rescue techniques, as well as the introduction of stability strokes. Tides and currents, wind and waves, emergency equipment, use of VHF and weather radios, understanding charts and basic use of a compass are covered in more depth. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Kayak Strokes & Maneuvers Refinement (Level 2-4) $130

This course assists students at all levels in refining their strokes and maneuvers in a sea kayak with bulk heads or flotation. Graduates of this course may desire to re-take the course at any time to further refine techniques such as style, bracing, low/high brace turns, bow rudder, side slips and stern rudder. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Coastal Kayak Traditional Skills (Level 3-4) $130

This course is designed to introduce students to the techniques used in kayaks by Arctic peoples. The course is limited to sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation in calm conditions. The skills to be covered are unlimited rolling, stroke techniques, and history of kayaking. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Kayak Rolling (Level 3-4) $150

This course is designed to teach paddlers of hard shell, closed-deck sea kayaks different rolling techniques. Students will learn the fundamental components of the roll and improve their bracing skills. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Coastal Kayak Open Water Skills (Level 4) $150

This course focuses on  traveling safely and efficiently by kayak of the type designated as a sea kayak with bulkheads or flotation, including some introductory navigation, boat lean and edging, introduction to kayak maneuvers and open water rescues. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Coastal Kayak Surf Zone (Level 4) $150

This course is designed to help students learn to launch and land safely through waves up to 3 feet high in sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation. Graduates of this course will be introduced to the nomenclature and personal experience of the surf zone, timing, and side-surfing techniques. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Coastal Kayak Tidal Currents (Level 4) $150

This course focuses on estimating, reading, and maneuvering in currents up to 4 knots caused by tidal exchange around coastal contours in sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation. Students will be introduced to the process of reading tide prediction charts, studying the water, and controlling the kayak in strong flow. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Coastal Kayak Skills Assessments (Level1-4) $150

These assessments are designed to offer participants the opportunity to receive documentation of their achieving a level of paddling skills. Ideal for seasonal camp staff and waterfront lifeguards who do not need instructor certification, but do need to show proficiency in kayak skills for employment and safety. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


ACA Day-Trip Leader Course & Assessment (2-Day) $260

This course is intended to provide the minimum skills and training necessary for an adult leader possessing basic paddling skills to lead a trip for participants with beginner level paddling skills, in gentle conditions, with apparent wind not exceeding 10 kts, waves up to 1 foot and currents to 2 kts. The emphasis of this course is trip leading, safety education and rescue. Contact the WLI office for course information and dates.


Custom & Private Kayaking Courses

The Wilderness Leadership Institute can develop courses to meet the unique needs and goals of any student or group. We excel in facilitating customized course curriculums designed to educate, empower and inspire our students. Contact the WLI office for more information.


Baja California Expeditions

WLI runs course on both the Pacific and Gulf side of the Baja Peninsula. Courses run from three days to a week or longer. Contact the WLI office for details and trip planning.


Alaska Expeditions

WLI runs kayaking expeditions to many parts of the Alaskan coast. From the glaciers of Valdes to the scenic fjords of the Kenai Peninsula come experience an adventure like on other. Contact the WLI office for details and trip planning.