Being Prepared

Safe Kayaking

Kayaking in the tropics is not without risk. Specific precautions that should be adhered to include.

Sun Protection

  • Sun protection is vital in the tropics, as severe sunburn and heat stroke can occur without adequate precautions.
  • Because kayaking involves spending time both on (and sometimes in) the water, you need to be especially careful when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun. Not only does water increase the amount of UV you are exposed to because it reflects the sun’s rays, it also reduces the amount of time your sun protection lasts.
  • The cooling effect of water can also make you think you are not getting burnt. With a water-based sport like surfing, it is easier to remember to reapply your sunscreen regularly, because we know that the water may be washing it off. It is also important to remember to reapply regularly if you are doing sports like kayaking, however, as the reflection from the water increases your exposure to harmful UV rays.
  • You should apply a high factor sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA and UVB cover before you head out to enjoy a water sport. You should apply around one teaspoon of sunscreen per limb and area of the body at least 20 minutes before you are going out in the sun. This should be reapplied as directed on the bottle and after going in the water, even if it is water resistant.


  • You should be self-sufficient for water provision on your kayaking adventures, particularly away from settlements, as there is only seasonal flowing water at some beaches on Magnetic Island, and no flowing water on Shelly Beach, and most other offshore islands in the Townsville region
  • It is important to remain well-hydrated in the warm tropical climate we experience in Townsville and surrounds
  • Guidelines for fluid intake should be individualised as each person has a different sweat rate. However, general guidelines and principles can still be used to help determine an individuals drinking before, during and after exercise.
  • Guidelines for fluid intake before exercise
    • Before exercise, ensure you are properly hydrated. General recommendations of consuming 2L a day of water for the average person, is a good beginning for fluid intake. However, factors such as time since last exercise can affect hydration and electrolyte levels. You can check yourr hydration statue using a urine colour test. The darker the colour of the urine, the more dehydrated.
    • In addition to this the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 480-600 mL (~500mL) of water or sports drink at least 4 hours before exercise
  • Guidelines for fluid intake during exercise
    • The greatest variation in advice comes during performance, as each person will not only sweat at different rates, but will only be able to consume certain amounts of fluid as they perform without discomfort. Other variables include the heat during exercise, exercise duration, and the intensity of the exercise.
    • The goal of fluid intake during exercise is to prevent excessive dehydration, which is less than 2%. Just 2% dehydration negatively affects performance, and can lead to signs of fatigue, negative thoughts, and disorientation and/or nausea.
    • It is important that hydration rates match sweat rates as closely as possible, especially for exercise of long duration. This is because slight mismatches in fluid intake can lead to either dehydration or hyponatraemia.
    • Hyponatraemia occurs when blood sodium levels are diluted. It can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and brain swelling, and in some cases, seizures and even death. Sports drinks or salt sticks can help prevent hyponatraemia.
    • General guidelines for fluid consumption during exercise are:
      • 90-240 mL (~150 mL) of water every 15-20 min if exercise is less than 60 min.
      • 90-240 mL (~150 mL) of sports drink every 15-20 min if exercise is more than 60 min.
      • DO NOT consume more than 1 L per hour of exercise. [1]
  • Guidelines for fluid intake after exercise
    • It is vital that you replace the fluid lost during exercise after it is completed. You should weigh yourself after your exercise to determine acy weight change compared to pre-exercise weight. This weight difference roughly corresponds to water deficit, that you should aim to consume over the following 2-6 hours

Estuarine Crocodiles

  • Estuarine crocodiles inhabit the marine area, including rivers and estuaries, from Gladstone North, including Townsville
  • Whilst crocodile attacks are rare, they do occasionally occur. Avoiding paddling into larger estuaries - particularly in crocodile breeding season (November-March), and avoiding paddling in coastal waters at night, are two common-sense recommendations.
  • More advice can be found at the Queensland Government “Croc-Wise” website, located here.

Marine Stingers

  • There are several species of marine stingers found in the waters at Queensland beaches. These include the ‘box jellyfish’ and the irukandji, which are classed as dangerous tropical marine stingers.
  • While marine stingers may be present throughout the entire year in tropical Queensland, the risk associated with these two types of potentially dangerous jellyfish are higher during the ‘marine stinger season’ that typically runs from November through to May. During these times, it is recommended that kayakers wear long-sleeved tops and long pants, along with neoprene boots and gloves for protection whilst paddling, and entering and exiting the water. Swimming is only advised at patrolled beaches.
  • It is advised to carry white vinegar on-board your kayak in case of accidental contact with a stinging jellyfish.
  • Essential first aid advice for jellyfish stings is available here.

Being Safe on the Water

  • Being safe on the water in your kayak is essential - so you can enjoy the great outdoors in your kayak for many years to come.
  • A few quick tips include:
    • Always carry plenty of water, and be sure to remain hydrated at all times
    • Always ensure you wear an Australian standards-approved life jacket
    • Always tell someone where you are going, and for how long
    • If you are kayaking in open water, beware of anticipated weather conditions, current and tides, and always carry a personal locator beacon (PLB) or e-pirb location device for use in an emergency
  • The following website has a great checklist of things you should consider before you plan your kayak outing - click here.
  • If you have any questions at all about the local area, please contact one of the kayak club committee members for advice.

Kayaking in Townsville

Townsville is full of great places to kayak.
Check out some of the destinations below to find out more!