Exploring Kent by Boat: A Guide to the best River and Sea Tours

You’ve found yourself in Kent with a yen for adventure and a hankering to see the Garden of England from a new perspective. Well strap yourself in, because you’re about to embark on an aquatic voyage to remember. From gently meandering down tranquil rivers to braving the waves of the English Channel, a boat tour offers a unique way to soak up the sights, sounds and stories of this historic county. Whether you fancy yourself a posh passenger on a pleasure cruiser or a salty sea dog on a fishing trawler, Kent has a watery excursion for you. So peruse this guide to find your perfect boating trip and get ready to chart a course for fun and discovery along the rivers and coastline of Kent.

Whitstable Boat Tours

Looking for a fun day out on the water in Whitstable? You’ve got options!

Whitstable Boat Trips located at Whitstable Harbour run trips all year round. Hop aboard for a 90-minute cruise to visit the seals or a 30-minute boat trip along the picturesque coastline. It’s a great way to see the sights and spot local wildlife.

For something a bit different, check out Whitstable Vintage Lifeboat Trips. Take a spin on their lovingly restored historic lifeboats for a 90-minute seal watching cruise or a coastal jaunt. Soak up the salt air and scenic views from these unique vintage vessels.

With so many options for fun boat tours departing right from Whitstable, you’re sure to find the perfect cruise to make memories on the water during your Kent holiday. Just pick a tour that suits your interests and sea you later!

Medway River Cruises

This scenic part of Kent offers leisurely guided river tours that let you soak up maritime history and natural beauty.

For a peaceful paddle downstream from Chatham, book a trip with Medway Sailing. Their environmentally friendly boats run regular excursions upriver towards Allington Lock. Along the way, you’ll drift by quaint waterside pubs and picnic spots perfect for a relaxing afternoon.

And don’t miss the iconic Kentish Lady paddle steamer! She offers fantastic sightseeing voyages for families, groups, and individuals. Cruise along the River Medway from Chatham and gaze at riverside castles before turning towards the wide open estuary. It’s a quintessential Kent experience.

Dover Sea Safari

Looking for an exhilarating family adventure? Dover Sea Safari offers a unique coastal tour like no other.

  • This speedy cruise takes you to an inlet where seals will congregate with their young. Get up close to these adorable creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Marvel at the towering White Cliffs of Dover, an iconic symbol of England, on the way.
  • Enjoy spectacular views of the historic Dover Castle and lighthouse as well.
  • The fast rigid inflatable boats provide a thrilling ride across the waves that kids will love.
  • Knowledgeable guides provide commentary on the coastal sights and seal colony along the way.
  • Tours run year-round and last 1.5 hours. All ages are welcome.

Dover Sea Safari provides an unforgettable experience to see England’s legendary coastline and delightful seals. Don’t miss this exhilarating family adventure!

River Tours in Canterbury

Canterbury Historic River Tours offers a truly unique way to take in the sights of this historic city from the River Stour.

  • Fully narrated by knowledgeable local guides, the tours provide entertaining commentary and insight into Canterbury’s rich history and architecture as you gently cruise along.
  • See top attractions like the towering Canterbury Cathedral, the ancient Westgate Towers, and the Old Weavers House. Float under quaint mediaeval bridges and admire beautiful riverside gardens.
  • Tours are seasonal, last 45 minutes, and are suitable for all ages. Boats have open seating and wheelchair access.

Along with the classic river tour, special lunch, dinner, and private charters are available. With nearly a century of experience on the River Stour, Canterbury Historic River Tours is the perfect introduction to scenic Canterbury.

Kayak & Canoe the Royal Military Canal

The Royal Military Canal is the perfect spot for kayaking and canoeing. This scenic waterway flows for 28 miles from Folkestone to Seabrook, with the most popular section being between Hythe and West Hythe Dam.

  • Rent kayaks, canoes or paddleboards from the Seapoint Canoe Centre in Hythe. They offer guided tours and courses for beginners.
  • Pack a picnic and leisurely paddle down the canal, taking in the tranquil scenery and wildlife along the way. Look out for herons, swans and ducks.
  • There’s a towpath along the canal so friends can join you by bike or on foot. Stop for lunch at a scenic spot or country pub along the way.
  • Allow 3-4 hours for a relaxed Hythe to West Hythe Dam paddle. It’s easy to navigate as the canal has almost no current or boat traffic.

Glide your way through history on the Royal Military Canal. This unique waterway is ideal for laidback paddling adventures.

River Wildlife Tours In Tonbridge

Tonbridge is home to the beautiful Haysden Country Park, which has been awarded Green Flag status for its well-managed natural habitats. Take a wildlife tour along the River Medway to spot kingfishers, swans, and other river creatures.

  • Tonbridge River Trips offers 2-3 hour guided cruises from Tonbridge through Haysden Country Park and along the River Medway. Knowledgeable guides will point out wildlife like herons, ducks, swans, and dragonflies.
  • For smaller groups, book a private charter. The river trip will take you past the mediaeval Tonbridge Castle ruins.
  • Canoe hire is available to paddle yourself for a more active wildlife viewing experience. Gentle paddling allows you to get closer to nature and spot wildlife along the riverbanks.

Connecting with nature is good for the soul. Drift along the River Medway to relax and immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings of Haysden Country Park’s wetlands, woods, and meadows.

Choosing the Right Tour for You

Kent offers such a wide variety of boat and river tours, how do you decide which one is right for your travels? Consider these factors when booking your cruise:

  • Interests – Are you a history buff, nature lover, or foodie? Look for tours that match your interests, like a historic themed tour  or a birdwatching cruise along the marshes.
  • Time – Half day, full day, or even overnight tours are available. Pick one that fits your schedule.
  • Budget – Prices range from budget-friendly options to luxury cruises. Decide how much you want to spend.
  • Travelling with kids? Kid-friendly cruises feature pirate themes and hands-on activities. Or relax on an adults-only sunset cruise.
  • Accessibility – Check if the boat and docks are wheelchair accessible if needed.
  • Group or private? You can join a shared tour or book a private charter for a more customised experience.
  • Booking ahead – Especially in summer, popular tours book up quickly. Reserve your tickets early.

With Kent’s nautical bounty, you’re sure to find the perfect cruise to suit your travel style. Just plan ahead and pick the tour that calls to your inner sailor!


So there you have it, a rundown of the top boat and river tours in Kent to add to your itinerary. From leisurely river cruises to high-speed rides on the sea, Kent has plenty of ways for you to get your sea legs. Just pick the tour that fits your interests and time. Don’t forget to pack some snacks, a camera, and an extra layer or two – the breeze off the water can get chilly. Most importantly, sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. Kent has so much natural beauty and history to take in from the water. Let the sound of the waves guide you to your next adventure.

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