- Charlotte Moore Special to the American-Statesman
Whether your adventure means getting centered with a solo session on a stand up paddle board or a festive affair on a 21-foot barge, you can rent your watercraft from a pool of shops along or near Lady Bird Lake. Kayaking and canoeing are Austin’s poster summer sports, stand up paddling is now officially a bona fide movement, and who told you to stop cycling when you run out of road and rock? There are so many options for beginners and pros, with rentals offered at pretty reasonable rates (many of the shops will even give you lessons or pointers before shipping you off, and some offer formal classes and camps). We’ve made the calls and compiled the fees; all you’re required to do is shove off.
Texas Rowing Center has something for everyone, including rowing, paddling, summer camps, canoe and kayak rentals; and they work with SUPATX to get you standing on water. If you’re new to stand-up paddling, someone on staff will be there to give you a quick lesson. “It’s very simple,” says rowing center owner Matt Knifton. “We give people about 2-5 minutes of instruction. It’s unlike rowing, which requires three lessons about 90 minutes each. Stand up paddling is pretty straightforward.” Rates for the various watercraft will run between $10 and $40 an hour depending on day and time on the water. The center also offers $199 15-paddle cards, group discounts, memberships and gift certificates. Cash and credit cards accepted.
The name is fitting, because Rowing Dock has the prescription for just about whatever you want to do on the water; kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or paddle boating is available every day of the week at rates ranging from $10 to $30 an hour. Once a month, Rowing Dock lets you stay on the water past dark, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., to let you enjoy Lady Bird Lake by the light of the moon, and a regular Tuesday “yappy hour” is dog-friendly. Group rentals and party packages are available. All rentals are first-come, first-served. Cash and credit cards accepted.
Howard and Dorothy Barnett made a splash more than 40 years ago when they launched Zilker Park Boat Rentals, and they’re still at it with a fleet of more than 100 canoes and kayaks. Now, they offer stand-up kayaks, too. Open every day, 10 a.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. weekends, until dark. $12 an hour, $40 all day. Cash only.
Whether a one-person paddle or 10-person party on the lake is in your plans, Capital Cruises has the canoe, kayak, paddle board, swan pedal boat, or barge for the occasion. Rental prices for boards, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats range from $10 to $20 an hour. Electric boats are $65 an hour. Public tours and private cruises with lunch and dinner available. Open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday, and 10 a.m. to 6:30 pm. Tuesday and Wednesday.
“They’re easier to ride than a normal bike,” said Ramon Montiel, who co-owns Austin Water Bikes with Todd Kirk. “They go faster than pedal boats — up to 7 miles per hour. And they’re for the whole family. My 17-month-old baby just rode one with my wife and, last week, we had a 75-year-old customer. They’re safe; that’s why people like to ride them.” Put the pedal to the water on one of Austin Water Bike’s 14 watercraft for $17 an hour, $10 for half an hour. Also available are 90-minute bat tours for $30, and moonlight on the water for $20 an hour. Facebook fans get half off on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cash and credit cards accepted.
30 N. Interstate 35 (next to the Holiday Inn). www.glidingrevolution.com/austin-bike-kayak-rentals.html, 512-699-6051.
In addition to Segways and mountain bikes, Gliding Revolution has kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards for rent, from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Rental rates vary by the hour (starting at $12) or the day (starting at $45). Congress Avenue Bridge bat kayak tours are $40 a person. Cash and credit cards accepted.
Sailing takes you away with as little as a 5 mph breeze on the lake in one of Austin Sailboat Rentals’ dinghies. And owners Jim and Ginny Niebauer are ready to get your kids manning the sails with weeklong summer sailing camps. “It’s going to be fun, obviously, but it’s not like a day care,” Jim said. “Kids are going to learn how to sail, learn sailing terminology, plus we’ll do some canoeing, kayaking, games in the water.” Camps are for kids ages 6 to 15 and cost $325. Rates for sailboats start at $20 an hour. The Niebauers also offer single and double kayaks starting at $10 an hour, stand up paddle boards for $15 an hour, canoes for $20 an hour and Seacycles between $20 and $40 an hour.
1602 E. Riverside Drive. www.livelovepaddle.com, 512-804-2122.
The name says it all, especially if you love watching the Congress Avenue Bridge bats take flight. It’s a Live Love Paddle specialty. “For a while, our main thing was the bat-watching tours,” owner Casey Vick said. “More people are starting to figure out we’re down here at the east end of the lake; there’s a cool island you can check out, you can paddle in to that big cove where Fiesta Gardens is, we have plenty of parking — it’s going good.” Live Love Paddle is open daily except Wednesday. Kayak and canoe rentals range from $10 to $25 an hour. Cash and credit cards accepted.
Congress Avenue Kayaks, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, is open from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (they’re in the Waller Creek Boathouse, home to Austin Rowing Club, a nonprofit that promotes rowing and offers low- and no-cost programs; see austinrowing.org). Kayak rentals start at $10 an hour, and stand up paddle boards are $20 an hour. Lessons, camps and group tours also available, and frequent paddlers get price breaks. “We offer these punch cards,” manager Andrew Martens said. “The more you use it, the more the price is reduced.” Cash and credit cards accepted.
The expedition school is one of Austin’s premier water and wilderness education outfits. Founder Kimery Duda grew up in Austin and is on a mission to share her love of wilderness and water. “The Expedition School is all about safety and education on all levels; we’re trying to give back as much as we’re getting,” she said. The school is open to the public for kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle board rentals at $15 a person for an hour, including a quick lesson. The school also offers youth programs, summer and surf camps (including camps for the disabled), expeditions, various courses and is at the center of a host of community-related water events. Cash and credit cards accepted.