Around Town

Kayak Centre's Aquatic Adventures Expand

Owner Jeff Shapiro talks about what a bigger base of operations means for the Wickford institution and eager paddlers

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Whether it’s along quiet, idyllic rivers or out on the open sea, there’s no denying that Rhode Island has some gorgeous places to kayak – and South County in particular has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to areas to get out and get your paddle on. Jeff Shapiro, owner of Kayak Centre in Wickford, knows this well. For more than 20 years, Jeff and his instructors have been showing casual paddlers and more experienced adventure seekers the joys of getting out on the water.

“I like the open water tours, but we’ve got a broad range of stuff,” says Jeff, who has led tours up and down the Rhode Island coast, and even out to Block Island from Charlestown. At nine miles, it’s not a trip for the faint of heart, but definitely sounds like a bucket list expedition for anyone willing to commit to learning the rules of the road… er, tide.

For the less experienced (or more cowardly, as is the case with this writer), moonlight paddles and eco-tours might be more agreeable options, though there are plenty of instructional opportunities at the Centre if you can’t resist the call of the wild. There’s also stand-up paddleboarding for various skill levels if you’re looking to make your Instagram followers jealous.

“We started a little bit before the curve,” Jeff says of the stand-up paddleboard trend. “People didn’t really know what they were at the time, but it’s become a significant part of the business.”

Kayak Centre recently moved from its three-building campus in Wickford to a larger, single location just up the street. Classes and boat launching still happen at the old location, but the new 5,000-square-foot retail space means a bigger selection of boats and gear open all year long.