Trail News

Float Into 2023: New Year’s Resolutions for Paddlers

"love" sign with the V made out of kayaks with water in background and sand in the foreground
December 31, 2021

A New Year’s resolution usually does one of two things: motivates you, or makes you feel like a failure. And unfortunately, we all know too well that the latter is way more common. While many of us have our kayaks and paddleboards in winter hibernation, a paddling resolution might seem a little silly right now. But as you scroll down to read our list of suggestions, you’ll notice that some of these resolutions take some effort and planning, which can be started right now, long before paddling weather arrives.

Since the spring of 2020, interest in paddling has sky-rocketed across the globe. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you found yourself either paddling for the first time, or investing more time in getting out on the water over the last two years. Now that 2023 is almost here, it’s time to make more paddling plans. Check out our list of resolution ideas and let us know what you have in store this year.

Go more often and explore new places.

bow of a kayak in the foreground with large, 17th century replica ships in the background

Paddlers seem to have every intention of getting out on the water more often, but then life gets busy, and before you know it, the chill of fall is settling in. This year however, make a plan instead of just saying to yourself “I’m going to paddle more often this season.” Your plan could include:

  • Booking a few “paddle-cations” to places with lots of beautiful paddling options (see our regional maps for suggestions!)
  • Setting a goal of the number of times you’ll paddle, the number of miles you’ll cover, or the number of new places you’ll explore. Make a checklist, tally sheet, whatever it takes, and post it on your fridge or somewhere you’re likely to see it often.
  • Make some new paddling friends! Connecting with other paddlers will help you stay accountable to paddle more often, and it will also give you more opportunities to get out on the water if you don’t like to paddle alone. How do you find new paddling friends? See resolution #2!

Find new paddling companions.

Family kayaking in Eastern Shore


This goal sounds difficult or a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a whole multitude of kayaking facebook groups out there where paddlers can connect, share photos and ideas, ask questions, and schedule paddling meet-ups. Groups range from small and local, such as Northern Neck Kayakers, to much larger groups like Virginia Kayaking with 15,000+ members! also has a wide range of groups to join, so just search for “kayaking”, “paddleboarding”, or “virginia”, and a variety of options will come up.

Learn a new skill.

Maybe 2023 is the year you learn to roll. Or maybe it’s the year you get out of your kayaking comfort zone and try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time. It could even be the year you start fishing from your kayak. Whatever new skill you’ve dreamed about, make 2023 the year you make it a reality! Don’t know how to get started? Here are a few ideas for you:

Figure out how to load your kayak on top of your car without help.

This can be tricky, particularly if you’re smaller in stature, but once you master it, it can be so empowering, and it will most likely open new doors to new paddling opportunities. Doing a quick Youtube search will turn up all kinds of suggestions on how to load up. There is also a wide variety of items on the market such as Yakima Load-Assist, Thule Hullavator, or the Malone Saddle Up.

Go on a kayak-camping trip.

tent and kayaks on the shoreline of an island

If packing up a tent and food and everything in your kayak sounds intimidating, try going on a camping trip that includes kayaking. Several of Virginia’s water trails run directly adjacent to state parks such as Kiptopeke, Belle Isle, and Westmoreland State Parks.  But campgrounds fill quickly these days, so be sure to reserve a campsite well in advance.

If you DO want to try packing up all your gear in your kayak, you might be wondering where there are paddle-in campsites. Mockhorn Island and Saxis Wildlife Management Areas allow primitive camping. For a more glamorous kayak-camping trip, check out our post on paddle-glamping.

Get in shape.

Were you lagging behind your paddle buddies last year? Are you eager to start long-distance paddling? While it seems like everyone hits the gym in January, many conditioning and training exercises for paddling can be done at home. Check out this handy list of exercises for some inspiration.

Paddle near dolphins.

bow of a kayak in the water with dolphin breaking the surface in the distance

The first time you stumble upon a pod of dolphins while paddling is an extremely memorable experience. While it feels like a complete roll of the dice as to where dolphins may turn up on any given day, download the Chesapeake Dolphin Watch app to track where dolphins have recently been spotted in the region, and you may increase your chances of spotting these graceful marine mammals. 

Extend your season.

Most paddlers get super bummed out when the cold fall weather sets in, because that means it’s time to put the paddlecraft in winter hibernation. It’s smart to do this, since paddling in water under 60 degrees can be extremely dangerous, and even life-threatening if you don’t have the proper gear. Check out our post on cold water safety for more information.

But what if you DO have the proper gear? Purchasing a dry suit is the safest option for extending your paddling season into the early spring, fall, and even the winter, but some dry suits cost more than a kayak, so it’s something you want to make sure you’re serious about before purchasing! 

Attend a paddling event or arrive at an event via the water.

Be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter for updates on events around coastal Virginia that have a paddling theme! Or check out events calendar when you’re ready to plan an adventure. We’ll post races, waterfront festivals, seafood festivals, paddle-in concerts, fireworks, and more!

Happy New Year and Happy Water Trails!

About the Author: Laura Scharle lives on the Eastern shore of Maryland and is a frequent paddler in coastal Virginia. She is a Virginia certified ecotour guide and is an independent marketing contractor with a focus in ecotourism and heritage tourism. Laura can be reached through our Eastern Shore ecotour guide listings.