Kayaking to Gibraltar Island – Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

It was our first time kayaking. We were grateful to try it in such a beautiful place.

After our segway tour, Justin and I decided to try another new activity…kayaking! We both had never gone kayaking before and it was on my bucket list of things to do. Not only was it great exercise, but it was a way to discover the island in a whole new way. Viewing Put-in-Bay from the water provided us with a new perspective and exploring on our own was such a treat.

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

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Justin and I drove our golf cart over to Kayak The Bay, a tour company situated on the northwest part of Put-in-Bay. We rented two kayaks on the spot for $20 each, without having to reserve them in advance. This fee allowed us to kayak for up to 2 hours. We also had the option of renting one two-person kayak, but we thought it’d be better if we had separate ones.

We didn’t ride our kayaks with a tour guide, but the staff member at Kayak the Bay gave us a few pointers on how to kayak. He also showed us a map and gave us a few ideas of what we could see on our trip. There were so many places to kayak that we couldn’t possibly cover everything in one trip. However, we’re open to returning someday and kayaking again.

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio


Our first destination was Gibraltar Island, so we paddled towards it. Gibraltar Island is completely owned by Ohio State University, so we were unable to actually visit the island itself. However, we were perfectly content cruising around Gibraltar Island and seeing it up close.

Gibraltar Island had rugged cliff edges with lush greenery growing all around. It isn’t what you’d imagine Ohio to look like. We navigated around giant boulders that protruded from the water. There were many waves crashing all around, so it was quite the adventure. By paddling into the waves, we reduced the risk of tipping our kayaks over and falling into the water. There really wasn’t much danger of flipping out of the kayaks, so we weren’t too concerned.

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

One area of Gibraltar Island was called the “Needles Eye”. It was a small challenge to kayak through this narrow space in between the cliffs. This was called “threading the needle.” Thankfully, we both made it through without any issues! Make sure you hold your paddle sideways as to not get stuck.

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

We kayaked around the entire island past the Ohio State University building. We saw lots of interesting birds, including ducks, geese, a blue heron, and a black duck.

Oh, and there were the water snakes.

I only saw one, but Justin saw a whole bunch that made him squirm around in his kayak. The water snakes are endangered and protected in the area. They kept poking their heads above the water and slithering back into the lake. Justin even saw one stick out its tongue! The hilarious part of it was that Justin kept thinking he saw water snakes. But, they’d end up being ducks off in the distance or other things, like rocks. He got paranoid of seeing more water snakes after he saw one or two. I spent half the time laughing at him and his fear of the water snakes.

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio

After floating around Gibraltar Island, we continued kayaking around the northwest point of Put-in-Bay towards Benson Ford. It was a huge ship that was essentially cut in half, moved to the shoreline of Put-in-Bay, and converted into a house! The best views of Benson Ford were from the water, so it was a great opportunity to see this unique home.

By this point, our arms and bodies were beginning to ache and we still had to kayak the entire way back. It was a bit of struggle at times. We both felt very accomplished for kayaking so far, especially on our first attempt at trying this sport.

Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio


We took a short video of our first moments trying to kayak, although it was a little tricky holding the camera as we were inexperienced kayakers.


Check out the rest of our travel photos from Put in Bay, Ohio!

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Kayaking to Gibraltar Island - Put in Bay, Ohio, USA

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Do you enjoy kayaking when you travel? Where’s your favorite place to kayak?

26 Responses

  1. Tracie Howe
    | Reply

    What a pretty place! I really like the rock formations. Good thing you didn’t kayak in one boat together for your first time… you may have returned to your golf cart as enemies! ;)

    • We had that option…but we decided to go with single kayaks! We did see another pair struggling with kayaking together later that day, and we thought it was funny although we were glad we kayaked the way we did! LOL :)

  2. Milosz Zak
    | Reply

    Really love the rocks. We have something similar here in Southern Ontario :)

    • Thanks! And whereabouts in Southern Ontario…. are you talking about Tobermory area? I’d be curious to know because we’re from Southern Ontario and we’d like to go wherever you are talking about – let us know!

      • Milosz Zak
        | Reply

        Try to go to Rockwood near Guelph, it’s 10 mins by car from my place, but yes, if you go to the Bruce Peninsula National Park grotto near Tobermory – the environment is identical.

  3. Dave
    | Reply

    The kayaking in Put-in-Bay looks like a lot of fun with all of those rocks and their “needle.” However, those snakes would definitely bother me a bit – are they poisonous?

    • The snakes were totally harmless, definitely not poisonous. It was a little unsettling to see the snakes coming out of the water, but anytime we got even remotely close they would swim away! So, nothing to worry about :)

  4. Calli D
    | Reply

    I love kayaking and this looks like an awesome location to do it with lots of interesting areas to explore. Glad to hear you’re having a nice little vacation :)

    • Thank you! :) It was really fun and a great place to go for my first time kayaking! We’re itching to try it again!

  5. Brianna @ The Casual Travelist
    | Reply

    I love kayaking and would totally enjoy that trip. Who knew something so cool was in Ohio?

    • Yeah, exactly! I had no idea until I started planning this trip. I even went to Put-in-Bay the year prior with a friend of mine, and I didn’t know this was there until the second time around!

  6. Elena Nacheva
    | Reply

    Looks like you had a great trip (and very tiring). I love the ship converted into a house, would be interesting to see the interior :)

    • I think the ship was featured on an episode of MTV Cribs where they did feature the inside of it! I haven’t watched the episode, but maybe it is on Youtube somewhere :)

  7. Karen Warren
    | Reply

    Kayaking is physically hard work but it’s a great way of exploring places that you wouldn’t get to otherwise. Looks as if you had a fun trip.

  8. TravellingWeasels
    | Reply

    I love kayaking – looks like you had a great time :)

  9. Bob R
    | Reply

    Put-In Bay! Old stomping grounds from a summer long ago. Great times had by all, at least those I can remember. :) Kayaking is something I didn’t do at the time, and am very sorry about that now. Maybe next time I’m in Ohio during the summer.

  10. Michael Huxley
    | Reply

    I have honestly never thought about Ohio as a place to visit before now, no reason it just wasn’t on my radar. Maybe it’s time to change my mind?

  11. Meanne
    | Reply

    Kayaking cool adventure to explore the beautiful place :)

  12. Christina
    | Reply

    Looks like a fun experience. The landscape at Gibraltar Island is so beautiful. Did you ever try kayaking together in one kayak? We tried it at the Canyon of Verdon in Southern France and the first 10 minutes it was really hard to coordinate the boat together. :)

  13. Antonette Spaan
    | Reply

    Wow – these are such tiny kayaks, would be fun to try them out one day …

  14. I almost forgot that you were in Ohio as i was looking at the photos with the rock formations. You could have been anywhere in the world. Very cool.

  15. Colette D
    | Reply

    I am terrible at kayaking lol. But you totally had the whole area to yourselves by the look of it so well worth it, how relaxing :-)

  16. Marie-Carmen Infantes
    | Reply

    Gosh I’m so so bad at kayaking (I tend to go in the back so I can look at my other half doing all the work :D ) But it looks like you had an awesome experience there!

  17. The Crowded Planet
    | Reply

    Beautiful! The scenery is stunning, I love the rocky cliffs. I agree with Tracie you did well not to go kayaking for the first time together, my husband and I did it and we nearly divorced. We haven’t been kayaking since! Water snakes sound cool, I’m a big fan of snakes!

  18. […] Kayaking Trip to Gibraltar Island from Put in Bay […]

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