Since I can remember, I've been a girl obsessed with the water. I absolutely wanted to be a marine biologist when I was younger (who else can relate?) and, growing up on the east coast of Florida, had plenty of access to the ocean. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing...these were all a part of my upbringing. I still have a love for it...but lack equipment.

Thankfully, there seem to be plenty of places around SW Michigan where owning your own kayak will in no way stop you from being able to enjoy the local waterways. With the weather warming up and the start of season right around the corner, I wanted to make sure I was prepared. Thanks to,, and for the bounty of information. Here are 9 SW Michigan spots where you can enjoy kayaking without owning your own kayak:

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1. Gun Lake Marina and Rentals

Look at how clear that water is. It's like it's calling my name. Located in Shelbyville, Gun Lake offers incredible views and a wide variety of rentals. You can rent kayaks, canoes, pontoon boats, and paddle boards. While many on this list don't start their 'season' until Memorial Day, Gun Lake Marina and Rentals is open now. Find more information on their website or Facebook page.

2. Marshall Riverwalk 

Sign me up! The Marshall Riverwalk, recommended by the Battle Creek Visitors Bureau, provides easy parking and you can rent kayaks, tubes and canoes through the Marshall Recreation Department. Prices range from $10 - $30. Side note: the Marshall Recreation Department also offers youth sports. You can find info on rentals and youth sports on their website or Facebook page.

3. Liquid Therapy Canoe and Kayak Rental 

Located in Three Rivers, Liquid Therapy and are officially open for the season. From April - Memorial Day they're open on the weekends and will move to 7 days a week from Memorial Day through October. Kayak rentals will cost you $30 for 4 hours or $45 for the full day and canoes will cost you $35 for 4 hours or $50 for the full day. They also offer group rates which you can find here or on their Facebook page.

4. Third Coast Paddling 

According to their website, Third Coast Paddling offers hourly rentals at multiple locations in SW Michigan:  Paw Paw River in St. Joseph, Galien River in New Buffalo, and Silver Beach in St. Joseph. A single person kayak runs about $25 per hour but two person kayaks and paddle boards are also available. Third Coast Paddling will open for the season on May 15th. You can find more info on their website or Facebook page.

5. U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery

U-Rent-Em is located in Hastings and offers rentals for you to enjoy the beautiful Thornapple River. During their season, which kicks off on Memorial Day, U-Rent-Em offers rentals on kayaks, canoes, and innertubes which will cost you anywhere from $8 - $50 a day. Keep in mind they do not accept credit cards. However, they'll take cash, personal checks or company checks. You can find more details on their website or Facebook page.

6. Doe-Wah-Jack's Canoe and Kayak 

I've had a number of people tell me how stunning the Dowagiac River is but I want to find out for myself! Doe-Wah-Jack starts their season in May opening on weekends only until June. Then, through August, they'll offer rentals 7 days a week returning to weekends only in September. They offer 2, 4, and 6 hour trips and rates vary. You can find further information on their website.

7. Long Lake at Ramona Park Beach 

Chelsea Rose
via/ Google Maps

Ramona Park offers a little something for everyone, including those wanting to get out on the water! Located in Portage, you can rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards by the hour or for a flat rate of $36 for 4-6 hours. When you're done, explore the park! You'll find areas for sports, BBQing, and a beach. Keep in mind, for non-residents of Portage, beach access will cost you $10 per vehicle. Find more information on their website.

8. En Gedi Resort and Canoe Livery 

Located in Leonidas, the En Gedi Resort is a family friendly campground and canoe livery. Meaning no alcohol and none of that green stuff. The grounds offer a tranquil view of the St. Joseph river and kayak, canoe and tube rentals are open to the public. Rates run from $50 - $30 depending on whether or not you would like to also enjoy some fishing. Find their full list of rates and other services offered on their website or Facebook page.

9. Plainwell Kayak Company 

Last, but certainly not least, is the Plainwell Kayak Company. Located in Plainwell, obviously, the Plainwell Kayak Company kicks off their season on Memorial Day and stays open through Labor Day. They offer trips from 1 - 3 hours with both single and tandem rates available. You can make reservations on their website and find more information on their Facebook page.

Be advised that most of the places included on this list suggest reservations for your trip. Pack that sunscreen and let's get out on the water!

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