It seems just about every activity out there has its own set of inspirational quotes, clever catch-phrases and quips nowadays. The world of paddlesports is no exception. Enjoy our list of 101 of the best paddling, canoeing, kayaking, river, lake, ocean and adventure quotes to make you laugh, ponder and inspire you to get outdoors and seek your next great paddling journey!

  • “Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.” -Henry David Thoreau
  • “There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude and peace.” -Sigurd F. Olson
  • “If there’s a place, canoe there.” – Brent Kelly
  • “Paddling a canoe is a source of enrichment and inner renewal.” -Pierre Trudeau
  • “Never trust a person whose feet are dry and who is paddling a canoe.” – Author unknown
  • “About the best reason I can think of for owning a canoe is that it can take me into wilderness. And what, you may ask, is so great about wilderness? The silence, for one thing.” – Robert Kimber
  • “Love many, trust few, but always paddle your own canoe.” -American proverb
  • “I’ve always thought that you should concentrate on paddling your own canoe.” – John Dos Passos
  • “Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy.” – Bill Mason
  • “A canoe does not know who is king. When it turns over, everyone gets wet.” – Malagasy proverb

Quote that reads "A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable."

  • “Voyage upon life’s sea, to yourself be true, and whatever your lot may be, paddle your own canoe.” – Sarah Bolton
  • “Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Canoeing is a feeling you can’t explain.” – Author unknown
  • “When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known.” – Sigurd F. Olson
  • “A day without canoeing probably wouldn’t kill me, but why risk it?” – Author unknown
  • “Although we are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same river of life.” – Oren Lyons
  • “The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten.” – Sigurd F. Olson
  • “With one foot in the canoe and one foot on shore, you are sure to fall into the river.” – Tuscarora proverb
  • “…portaging is like hitting yourself on the head with a hammer: it feels so good when you stop.” – Bill Mason
  • “What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal 500 on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.” – Pierre Trudeau
  • “First rule of canoeing: never lose the paddle.” – Author unknown
  • “The goal of a wilderness canoe trip should be to collect enough of the wilderness experience to last the whole year… A full cup is the only way that the winter can be endured.” – Greg Went

Kayaking quotes

  • “I’d rather be kayaking.” – Author unknown
  • “Kayaking is my therapy.” – Author unknown
  • “Yes, I do have a retirement plan. I plan on kayaking.” -Author unknown
  • “I kayak to burn off the crazy.” – Author unknown
  • “The two best reasons to buy a kayak rather than just renting are sunsets and sunrises.” – Thomas P. Jones
  • “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a kayak and that’s kind of the same thing.” – Author unknown
  • “Stress is caused by not enough kayaking.” – Author unknown

Quote that reads "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe."

  • “Kayaking is a way of life.” – Author unknown
  • “Learn to kayak because zombies can’t swim.” – Author unknown
  • “Kayak more. Worry less.” – Author unknown
  • “Live. Love. Kayak.” – Author unknown
  • “I don’t need therapy. I just need to go kayaking.” – Author unknown
  • “Kayaking is the answer. Who cares what the question is.” -Author unknown
  • “Kayaking is not just a hobby. It’s a post-apocalyptic survival skill.” -Author unknown
  • “Never mess with a kayaker. We know places where no one will find you.” – Author unknown
  • “You know you’re a kayaker when you can’t go over a bridge without checking to see how much water is under it.” – Author unknown
  • “Open water is a highway to adventure, best traveled by canoe or kayak.” – Author unknown
  • “Your kayak doesn’t have an expiration date.” – Author unknown
Person paddling a kayak across a lake with mountains in background
Get inspired, and get paddling. | Photo: Advanced Elements

Paddle quotes

  • “There is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” – Kenneth Grahame
  • “Keep calm and paddle on.” – Author unknown
  • “Life’s short, paddle hard.”- Author unknown
  • “Paradise is just a paddle away.” – Author unknown
  • “If in doubt, paddle out.” – Nat Young
  • “The path of the paddle can be a means of getting things back to their original perspective.” – Bill Mason
  • “The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.” – George R. R. Martin
  • “Paddle faster. I hear banjos!” – Author unknown
  • “Life’s a river. Grab a paddle.” – Author unknown
  • “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville
  • “Born to paddle, forced to work.” – Author unknown
  • “You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.” – Mark Twain
  • “She wasn’t drifting away. She was paddling her own boat.” -Author unknown

River, ocean and lake quotes

  • “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life.” – Author unknown
  • “The first river you paddle runs through you the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.” -Lynn Culbreath Noel
  • “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” -A.A. Milne
  • “The rivers flow not past but through us.” – John Muir
  • “What happens at the river, stays at the river.” – Author unknown
  • “A rough day at sea is better than any day at the office.” – Author unknown
  • “Life is better on the river.” – Author unknown
  • “A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” -William Wordsworth
  • “You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.” – Jim Harrison
  • “The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.” – John Muir

Quote that reads: Open water is a highway to adventure best traveled by canoe or kayak."

  • “The songs of the river ends not at her banks, but in the hearts of those who have loved her.” – Buffalo Joe
  • “A man of wisdom delights in water.” – Confucius
  • “Swift or smooth, broad as the Hudson or narrow enough to scrape your gunwales, every river is a world of its own, unique in pattern and personality. Each mile on a river will take you farther from home than a hundred miles on a road.” – Bob Marshall
  • “A day spent on the water is never a waste of time.” – Author unknown
  • “A day on the river restores the soul.” – Author unknown
  • “A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin
  • “Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go.” – Blaise Pascal
  • “So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.” – Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Rivers have what man most respects and longs for in his own life and thought—a capacity for renewal and replenishment, continual energy, creativity, cleansing.” – John M. Kauffmann
  • “Listen—the river is calling.” – Author unknown
  • “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he had the courage to lose sight of the shore.”- Andre Gide
  • “Life is better at the lake.” – Author unknown
  • “There is no rushing a river. When you go there, you go at the pace of the water and that pace ties you into a flow that is older than life on this planet. Acceptance of that pace, even for a day, changes us, reminds us of other rhythms beyond the sound of our own heartbeats.” – Jeff Rennicke
  • “A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
  • “The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go.” – Richard Bach
  • “Life is like a river. The way of life is to flow with the current. To turn against it takes effort, but the current will carry you if you let it. Float with joy and ease.” – Author unknown
  • “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus
  • “Don’t try to steer the river.” – Deepak Chopra
  • “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Rivers are places that renew our spirit, connect us with our past, and link us directly with the flow and rhythm of the natural world.” – Ted Turner

Life, water and adventure quotes

  • “Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” – Lovelle Drachman
  • “Go where you feel most alive.” – Author unknown
  • “Life is simple—just add water.” – Author unknown
  • “It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.” – Nicholas Sparks
  • “We must take adventures to know where we truly belong.” -Author unknown
  • “Life is good. Full stream ahead.” – Author unknown
  • “Sometimes you just need an adventure to cleanse the bitter taste of life from your soul.” – Author unknown
  • “One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” – William Feather
  • “I have an insane calling to be where I’m not.” – Author unknown

"Rivers are places that renew our spirit, connect us iwth our past, and link us directly with the flow and rhythm of the natural world."

  • “The journey not the arrival matters.” – T.S. Eliot
  • “Happiness is finally leaving the shore.” – Author unknown
  • “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” – Loren Eiseley
  • “There needs to be balance or you will sink.” – Author unknown
  • “Around every bend there’s a great surprise… you just have to look for it.” – Author unknown
  • “Some beautiful waters can’t be explored without getting lost.” -Author unknown
  • “The ocean inspires, the sunset calms and the salty air heals.” -Author unknown
  • “Life was meant for good friends and great adventure.” – Author unknown
  • “I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure… It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. There is stagnation only in security.” – William Orville Douglas

Many of these paddling quotes can apply to our experiences on and out of the water at some point in time or another. Which is your favorite paddling quote from the list above? Is there one you found particularly inspiring?


  1. Best quote I picked up while watching a 1970s movie about a canoe adventure in the American West was:
    Men and Women are like canoes and rivers, dangerous together. But what’s the choice?


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