Kayaking is a really popular thing to do in Ghent, and even though a lot of locals seem to have their own kayak, there are also several companies that will hire you one. I recommend Ponas for a few reasons: the longer hours you can kayak for, the location of where you set off, and the facilities they provide.
Ponas lets you choose between 2.5 hours, 4 hours and a whole day (20 euros) whereas some other companies only give you a 2-hour option. With a whole day you can really see quite a lot of both Ghent’s city centre and the surrounding villages that are along the river.
We booked 2-person kayaks and set off south of Blaarmeersen. I found a nicer way to get started than right in the heart of the Graslei, which is very busy with all the motorboats. Immediately after you set off you head down a really calm part of the river where weeping willows drip into the water and there’s more wildlife to see than in the centre.
Ponas also has showers that you can use afterwards. Even though I didn’t plan to fall in, I still got covered in river water… And our friends who drove in from out of town also appreciated the free parking that Ponas has.
Ponas also hires out one-person kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards, which are becoming very trendy in Ghent. I’ve tried them myself and it’s harder than it looks!