San Juan Kayak

By: Graycie Viscon

Madrid does have a beach! Or something like that…. While Pantano de San Juan may not be as famous as the stretching coastal beach of Barcelona or Ibiza’s many sandy island spots, this beautiful reservoir is sure to provide a day of fun and a cool-off from the heat of the city.

I was initially hesitant upon receiving the invite for our first CIEE day-trip– a kayak excursion at Pantano de San Juan. I had kayaked before and not enjoyed it. Would I be too busy with homework or exploring the city? Would anyone else sign up? It was a week until my flight anyway! But, I signed up and my concerns were quickly put to rest.

kayak madrid spain

After only being in Madrid for four days, this was a perfect opportunity to meet new people and see a side of Madrid removed from the tour buses, the hustle and bustle of the metro, and the souvenir shops. We boarded a bus and headed 70 km west (or about one hour) to the hidden oasis. Once there, we partnered up and hopped in our sit-on-top kayaks. The fresh blue lake water and warm breeze were welcome changes from the salty ocean water and cold wind I was used to in my previous kayaking experiences in the Pacific Northwest. After reaching a sandy beach cove, we had about 45 minutes to take a swim or sunbathe on the breathtaking boulders. I chose the latter! The group split in two on the return trip; those who wanted to continue, pushed around another bend while those whose arms were getting sore, headed for the shore.

madrid kayaking

We all reunited for lunch at the “chiringuitos,” or small beachside restaurants serving traditional fare, and a well-deserved rest. Students enjoyed calamari, sandwiches, and cold drinks, before heading back to the bus for the ride home– all a little more tired and tan than before.