Monday, October 3, 2016

Favorite Activity In Italy: Kayaking in Procida (Too Underrated!)

Totally wonderstruck, I shall make this statement at the top of my lungs: Joining a kayaking adventure with ASD Kayak Procida was the best decision I’ve made in the Gulf of Naples.  

Corricelle, Kayak, ASD Kayak Procida, Italy hidden gem, Procida

"Get up at 5.45am -> get to the port of Naples -> allocate 15 minutes to buy a Caremar Ferry ticket to Procida -> Meet the team" 
That was the reminders I set in my phone on the day I was supposed to meet the ASD Kayak Procida Team at 9am. BUT, things did not go smoothly as planned. 

     It started to rain the moment I stepped out from my hostel in Naples (by the way, check out the La Controra Hostel!) When I finally reached the port, I was informed that the Caremar ferries depart from another port, which was 1-2 kilometers away. I looked at my watch and I realized that I might still have time if I go right now, since there were free buses transporting passengers from one port to another. Unfortunately, the ticket counter closed its window 15 minutes before boarding and I had to wait for the next ferry (8.45am). 

      I ended up 2 hours late for my Kayaking tour (also due to ferry delay). Thank God a kind lady on the ferry helped me to inform ASD Kayak Procida about my situation. I was so glad that as soon as the ferry docked at Procida, I saw the ASD kayaking team already there waiting for me. The team members are very friendly and understanding. Without further ado, they invited me into their car and drove to Marina di Chiaiolella, where the kayaking center was located.      

ASD Kayak Procida, Kayak

     The team of Kayak enthusiasts at ASD Kayak Procida obviously loves what they do, smiling and humming tunes while they moved around preparing for the tour. Before they started their work, Salvatore asked me if I had any previous experience with Kayaking. Honestly, I didn’t. In fact, that would actually be my first kayaking experience! “Then do you want to try kayaking solo or tandem?” “Tandem!” I exclaimed immediately as if I was afraid that he might change his mind. “Okay, I’ll be with you then,” he smiled, probably amused by my reaction… well, I was thinking he won’t be smiling anymore after he realized how uncoordinated my hands and feet are!  

     They pulled out a gorgeous red Kayak and I was thrilled when they introduced me this babe as mine! We picked up all the things we needed and head to the water: Life jackets, a waterproof case for my phone, a black waterproof bag for our stuff and a picnic basket full of delicious stuff. We had the rest of our things locked up in a case (that looks like an old-school treasure box) at their place. 

Kayak, Procida
Although having 0 knowledge about kayaking, I was so ready.
     As soon as we hit the water, Nicola helped me to get my Xiaomi camera all set up and we were good to go. As I said, I opted for a Tandem kayak experience and Salvatore was my guide of the day. He explained to me how to handle the paddle while I prayed secretly in my heart that he wouldn’t think that I am an idiot. I always have troubles performing something although I understand the instructions perfectly. My mom calls this “Chicken hands duck legs syndrome”, yeah and I admit having it. Miraculously, I was able to master the technique quickly! It was my first time kayaking so imagine my excitement when I realized that I actually moved the kayak! Yes! I moved it forward, not just moving randomly in a circle! Salvatore is the perfect example of a gentleman. He kept encouraging me and praised me for the job well done (Getting the kayak moving, hah! )… Even though I knew that he was doing most part of the kayaking, he kept reassuring me that I was doing a great job, giving me a big pat on the back. “See, you did it, all by yourself!” “You sure it’s your first time kayaking? ” “Vivian is great! She is good in kayaking! ” For once, I felt like I am not an idiot after all! 

     Despite the lack of proficiency in English, they manage to explain about the rock formation and the landscape of the coast as we paddled by. Ah, who am I judging, English is not my best tongue either but we could understand each other perfectly well.  

     It was a sensational experience exploring the volcanic territory in such an eco-friendly way. During the trip, Salvatore explained to me that there are 5 craters on the Island of Procida. My absolute favorite experience on the tour was when I got the opportunity to pass through a natural tunnel (only if weather permits). How do I put it in words? I loved the tension, the excitement building up as we paddled through, the sound of waves crashing on the rocks, the crystal clear refreshing sea water splashing on my face and the light at the end of the tunnel…… It was simply spectacular! Nicola was ready with a camera as we emerged out of the tunnel, and I am sure he caught the most realistic side of me: dropped-jaw-wonderstruck, a little ugly as I squinted my eyes to adjust to the sunlight, and a little blur. and of course, you won’t see that photo in this blog post.        

Corricelle, Procida
Corricelle, Procida

     Next, we paddled into the port of Corricella, the most anticipated part of the trip! I didn't even want to blink although I physiologically needed to do so. I didn’t want to miss a thing… you may think I was exaggerating but wait til you experience it yourself! It’s the most beautiful, underrated, authentic and peaceful tiny fishing village I've ever set eyes on! “Selfies are mandatory!” said Salvatore, as I pulled out my Phone, extended the selfie stick and shamelessly snapped a hundred selfie photos. I was loving what I saw: rows of vibrant houses, fishermen relaxing on the chair drinking beers, boats lining in front of the village, pastel color mirrored down onto the water, what a perfectly peaceful scene! All of us kayaked into the port to take a better view of the village and some team members small-talked with the locals… Judging by the number of times they kayaked into Corricella, they must have known each other well, such a lovely community! We continued to kayak along the port until the village is not anymore in sight. 

ASD Kayak Procida, Kayak
     Kayaking is a great choice for workouts but it was making me really hungry as we kayaked out of Corricella. We head to a beach overlooking the colorful village to enjoy our picnic lunch. They brought my favorite fresh fruits (Especially watermelon, it was God-sent! ) and …. wait for it… a tasty HOMEMADE sponge cake by Valeria! If you know me personally, I am a sucker for desserts and homemade cakes? Just give them all to me! While one of them enjoyed swimming in the refreshing water, most of us stayed on the shore. I was fascinated by the number of tiny clams easily found on the beach! Just wash away a handful of sand and you’ll find 2-3 tiny clams remaining in your hands.     

ASD Kayak Procida, Kayak

     Well again, there it came the law of the universe: Every good thing must come to an end. We slowly made our way back to the port and on our way, Nicola and his team get me acquaintance with the wonderful sea creatures such as the sea urchins and sea snails. Mark my words, that was definitely better than plain old Discovery Channel! As we were approaching the port, someone suggested a race. I remembered flinging the paddle from left to right, frantically trying to keep up with Salvatore, it was crazy… Crazily FUN! At some point, Salvatore let me paddle alone, I was so thrilled that our kayak was still moving forward at a decent speed! I guess I can say that I’ve mastered the art of paddling (close enough!), thanks to my amazing new friends from ASD Kayak Procida!  
     We finally returned to the starting point after an action-packed excursion. I was glad that My chicken hands and duck feet didn't cause my kayak to capsize. 

HF Scoring System:

Information: 19
Flexibility: 20
Communication: 16
Safety: 20
Comfort: 18

Total: 93
Stars: 5


     It’s probably the highest score a tour ever got on my blog but I have some good reason to justify that. First, Kayaking in Procida along the sunny coastline was the best way to explore the region. Not only that it is eco-friendly, it is educational… and doing sports prevent heart diseases
     Secondly, this island itself is a hidden gem. The little island of Procida is not as famous as Ischia or Capri, but if there’s anyone traveling to Naples with 1-2 extra days to kill, I highly recommend visiting Procida. I had the most amazing day out with ASD Kayaking Procida exploring craters, the bay, and Corricella. It was my first attempt in kayaking, and I am glad that I did it with them. 
     Third reason, the passion shown by the team at ASD Kayak Procida. It is a sports association founded by passionate kayaking lawyers with the aim of promoting kayak activity. Although there was some minor language barrier, they managed to convey their message and information. Your safety and well-being are their biggest concern. During the tour, Salvatore kept an eye on me to make sure that I always feel comfortable under the hot sun and they prepared a cap for me. 
     Also, they are flexible about the timing. As long as you don’t overdo it.  
     Last but not least, beautiful beaches, refreshing water, stunning marina, homemade cakes and fresh fruits for a picnic, what else can I ask for in a perfect day trip? 

ASD Kayak Procida, Kayak, Corricelle, Italy, Procida
You probably can tell from this photo that I was totally overwhelmed. I was so glad because I was privileged to witness the beauty of Corricella in such a close distance. 

General information about the tour:

Who can do it: 
Kayaking is a great sport for people of all ages. Even if you haven’t kayaked before, your new friends from ASD Kayak Procida will guide you through it! 

What you do: 
experience nautical tourism up close in full respect of the marine ecosystem. 

What you need: 
Basic swimming skills.

Excursions Available :
- Around the Island (4 Hours)
- Discovering Corricella (3 Hours)
- On the Trail of the Postman (4 hours)
- Beach of the Postman (1.5 Hours)
- Ischia By Kayak (3.5 Hours)
- Capri By Kayak (10 hours)
Choose your tour according to your skill level, hours you wish to spend kayaking… and how adventurous you are! If you are indecisive, ask the wonderful people at ASD Kayak Procida and they will give you good recommendations base on the weather, sea condition, your skills and the anticipated views all added up!

30 - 50 euros per pax. (including equipment and refreshment. )

Working Hours
09:00 - 20:00

How to get to the meeting point? 
Marina di Chiaiolella
     I actually had a WhatsApp conversation with Salvatore the night before, which he was telling me how to get to Procida from Naples, but I was so sure I know the way, I did not pay close attention to it. So, my suggestion is to always ask them for direction no matter how well prepared you think you are! 
     For starter, here is the link to the website where you can check the ferry schedule. The meeting point at Marina di Chiaiolella is located at the other end of the island, hence I recommend you to take a taxi. 

How to book a tour? 
I booked my kayak adventure directly through E-mail. They are one of the most responsive tour operators I’d deal with so far. As an alternative, you can also book a tour through phone calls or Facebook message
Here's the contact info you need to know:     
Website: Procida in Kayak
FacebookASD Kayak Procida

Would I recommend it? 

Yes! Definitely! 
I love how personal the experience was! I did not feel like I am on a tour. To me, it felt more like I was going out having fun with my new friends in Procida. Despite the minor language barrier, they were able to keep me engaged in fun conversations. You know when you are traveling in a place so beautiful, so exquisite, the quality of your experience depends on your guides, whether they are a hit or a miss! My awesome new friends at ASD Kayak Procida are definitely a hit

Procida in Kayak
Salvatore explaining the locations of the 5 crater in Procida on the Procida in Kayak Logo. 
Some might say you can actually save a few bucks by renting a kayak from the local lido. Yes you can do that, but according to my experience, paddling aimlessly on open-water sucks (I did paddleboarding in the States before.) I prefer to do it with a guide who can introduce you the culture, the history of the region and point out the smallest details about the pretty landscape. Plus, it is safer to have someone who knows the sea well near you at all times. Sorry, I’ve watched too many shark movies, but I just can’t get it out of my head. Anyhow, the condition of the sea might be unpredictable so the conclusion is — book a guided tour. Don’t miss out on the fun!   

Kayak in Procida, Corricelle
Here is another cool photo with my new friend, Valeria kayaking in it! 

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My Kayaking experience was fully organized and supported by ASD Kayak Procida. However, all opinions are as always, my own. 
Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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