Why should I pay for instruction?

If you consider what it will cost you for several books and videos, it is actually very economical in terms of money and time to learn from an experienced coach.

Videos and books have their place, but a good coach can tailor lessons to your needs and work to help you understand concepts and learn to perform techniques properly. On top of that, just paddling with other good kayakers will reveal hints and lessons in subtlety and finesse that you just can't get otherwise.

We believe solid instruction is worth the investment. As you practice correctly and have fun paddling, you gain the experience upon which to base judgment. You'll know how to make the choices and take the actions that ensure your continued safety and enjoyment of paddling, and that reflect well on the sport as a whole.

See you soon!

kayaker silouhetted against sunset

British Canoe Union (BCU) Training and Certification

The BCU is recognized internationally as one of the most comprehensive sea kayak training programs available. BCU courses are highly structured and offer courses ranging from beginner to advanced. You will learn from dedicated 4 and 5 star sea paddlers who spend countless hours perfecting their own skills and teaching technique.

The BCU coaching/training process.

World-class Instruction

Guest instructors from England, Wales, Netherlands and the U.S. are a vital part of our program. Our approachable and supportive instructional staff travels extensively teaching and sharing ideas with other professionals. If you are serious about becoming a skilled paddler and have the motivation and
Guest instructor Steve Maynard (Maine Island Kayak Co.) teaches the anatomy of a wave during a Safety and Skills Symposium at Barrier Island Kayaks.
self discipline to practice and put your time in on the water then—the journey begins here.

Teaching Venues

Our location is said to be one of the best on the East Coast. BCU 2 and 3 star foundation course are taught on quite protected water. This will allow you to focus on developing good technique and refining your skills in a supportive learning environment. Advanced courses are taught in the famous "Soup Kitchen" considered to be a world class teaching environment for advanced skills.

On-Site Accommodations

When taking a course you may want to consider staying at the Waterway Inn which is located next door to our shop. We share the same piece of ground so you will have easy access to your kayak and the intracoastal waterway for launching. Slip out for an evening or early morning paddle in the quiet estuary or just relax and enjoy an awesome sunset.

We offer the following courses:

Whether your goal is to learn basic skills or to gain the skill and confidence to paddle the open sea, we have the skills, knowledge and commitment to take you there.

"What I hear I forget. What I see I remember. What I do I understand."

It's true. Come to Barrier Island Kayaks and do it.


BCU 2 Star Award

ACA Basic Coastal Kayaking

Learn in a supportive, forgiving environment from empathetic coaches.


The BCU 2 Star introductory course will teach you basic flat water strokes and techniques necessary to build a strong foundation for developing advanced skills. We incorporate the discovery leaning method which will allow you to better understand the end result of good technique. This course will cover basic rescues and navigation, safety and gear selection.


The BCU 2 Star assessment will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of basic kayaking skills. Emphasis will be placed on achieving the desired
A student experiments with a hanging draw stroke to move his kayak sideways while on the move.
movement of your kayaking using good technique.

BCU 2 Star Syllabus

  • Fine tuning forward, reverse strokes
  • Stopping
  • Draw strokes
  • Rudder strokes
  • Sweep strokes
  • Boat edging
  • Support strokes
  • Self and assisted re-entry
  • Bow Rudder
  • Low brace turn

2 Star Training:

Duration: 1 day
Venue: Flat Water
Course Fee: $125
Dates: Please see our schedule.

2 Star Assessment

Duration: Half day
Venue: Flat Water
Course Fee: $50
Dates: Please see our schedule.


BCU 3 Star Award


The BCU 3 Star is an intermediate course that will focus on stroke and technique refinement. Emphasis will be placed on control of the body, boat and blade.
Learn to handle your boat and yourself in rougher conditions and gain the confidence to paddle the open sea with a competent group.
Instructors will utilize video taping to assist in stroke development and self critique. Towing techniques and deep water rescues will be introduced as part of the 3 star course.


The BCU 3 Star assessment will allow the student to demonstrate a thorough understanding of strokes and techniques. A 3 star paddler will effectively move the kayak in all directions and demonstate confident recovery strokes, bracing and edging.
Explore new areas and conditions as you progress into the intermediate skill set.

BCU 3 Star Syllabus

  • Technical Gear
  • Introduction to Navigation
  • Safety Issues
  • Weather
  • Stroke Refinement
  • Stroke Blending
  • Modifying Strokes for Conditions
  • Introduction to Tides, Currents and Waves
  • Basic Towing Skills
  • Deep Water Rescues
  • Unassisted Rescues
  • Group Awareness
  • Emergency Issues
A bow-to-stern assisted re-entry where the paddler in the water is re-entering from between the two boats, feet first, head held low.

3 Star Training:

Prerequisite: 2 Star or equivalent
Duration: 2 days
Venue: Flat to moderately rough water
Course Fee: $175

3 Star Assessment

Duration: Half day
Venue: Flat to moderately rough water
Course Fee: $50
Dates: Please see our schedule.


BCU 4 Star Award


The BCU 4 Star course will allow the paddler to develop the skills necessary to
Begin to learn the basis of navigation on the sea when you embark on the 4-star course.
paddle the open sea. Students will learn how to utilize, adjust and modify 3 star skills to paddle in challenging conditions. You will learn about the environment, weather and navigation at sea. The four star paddler will perform as a competent and supportive member of a group paddling in advanced sea conditions.


The BCU 4 Star assessment will allow the student to demonstrate the 3 Star skill set in rough water and ocean swell as well as requiring the candidate to demonstrate an understanding of the environment, weather and navigation at sea.
In this assisted re-entry, the swimmer enters from the outside as the paddler in the red helmet tows the rescuer and swimmer out of a shipping channel.

BCU 4 Star Syllabus

  • Weather
  • Safety Issues
  • Navigatinon I and II
  • Seamanship
  • Duty of Care
  • Launching and landing in the surf
  • Forward and Reverse Stroke - Powering Up
  • Edging and Turning at Sea 360 Degrees
  • Paddling in a beam sea and following sea
  • High and Low Recovery
  • High and Low Brace
  • Hanging Draw
  • Stationary Draw
  • Sculling Draw
  • Bow Rudder Modified
  • Low Brace Turn
  • Turning on a wave
  • Towing in heavy seas
  • Rough water rescues
  • Re-entry and Roll
  • Kayak Repair on the water
Learning to roll enhances your braces and confidence, not to mention it's just plain fun!

4 Star Training:

Prerequisite: 3 Star or equivalent
Duration: 2 days
Venue: Rough water
Course Fee: $175
Dates: Please see our schedule.

4 Star Assessment

Duration: Half day
Venue: Rough water
Course Fee: $50
Dates: Please see our schedule.


Surf Zone Paddling Foundations

Surfing down the face of a glassy wave in a sea kayak is about as exciting as it gets. Our surf zone foundation course is designed to teach the basics of long boat surfing.
Learn to handle your kayak
in the "forbidden zone".

This two day class will allow you to work on launching and landing in the surf, carving turns, edging, wave selection and rescues. Class sizes are small enabling the student to experience personlized instruction.

Prerequisite: BCU 2 Star award or equivalent skill level
Cost: $150
Dates: Please see our Schedule


Advanced Surf Class

Our advanced surf class will crank it up considerably. The advanced student will focus on refining technique and skills necessary to ride the big ones.
The surf is a very exciting area for some, while others prefer calmer waters. If you want to get energized, come paddle with us in the never-ending whitewater of the surf zone!
You will learn about air drops, agressive carving, acceleration and trimmimg. If your goal is to take it to the next level, our advanced course is for you.

Prerequisite: Basic Surf Class
Cost: $150
Dates: May 28-29, July9-10, Sept 3-4
*Outdoor clinics are subject to weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather we will re-schedule your clinic. Surf zone classes are more dependent on current water conditions than others, but we have lots of optimum days.