family in canoe

The thrills and excitement of canoeing attract people of all ages, like this family.

Ariel Skelly/Blend Images/Getty Images

Imagine the feeling of excitement as your canoe slices through the water in time with your paddle strokes. You float on a placid lake, and your mind and body are in tune with the wind blowing through the trees -- no motor to interfere with the sound of the flowing river. Canoe lovers return again and again to retreat into nature and escape the hustle of modern life. It's therapeutic and calming, and it also provides a strenuous and rewarding workout.

Canoeing is simply propelling a canoe with a paddle using only human muscle power. It's popular throughout the world for recreation and sport, although it's still used in some places for transportation. You can find canoe clubs and retail stores in just about every city where there's a river, lake or sea. Canoeing is also an official Olympic sporting event that draws both male and female athletes. It's even opening up new worlds of opportunity to the physically challenged.

There are many types of canoes -- dugout canoes, outrigger canoes, whitewater canoes and kayaks among others. Canoeing refers to both the canoe and the kayak in many places throughout the world, but canoeing refers just to the canoe in the United States. In this article, we'll focus on the open canoe.

With so many people drawn to canoeing, it seems like canoes are a lot like cars -- different strokes for different folks. So, let's find out what's up with the types of canoes people use.