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Paddling a kayak is about as close as you can get to the marine environment without jumping in, whether in a creek or on the open ocean. It is a little bit of exercise, but most people from small children to seniors are able to do it. The sights and sounds can be gorgeous, and outfitters emphasize that it is really quite safe.
A typical guided tour will offer about three hours on the water, with kayak, paddle, and life jacket provided. Novices and school-age children are welcome, although children may be required to ride in a tandem canoe with an adult. Each trip generally begins with an orientation, including the right way to paddle, but within 20 minutes or so you are launching.