The Sea Kayaking Life of Molly Hagbrand

3-minute read

Aqua Bound Ambassador, Molly Hagbrand, is a professional kayak instructor and guide. She’s based in Sweden, but also does a lot of her work in the US and Mexico. She’s especially passionate about getting women on the water and in other outdoor activities.

Molly Hagbrand wearing her sea kayaking gear

Molly Hagbrand, professional sea kayak instructor and guide

We were able to catch Molly between kayak trips to get more details about her background and life…

AQUA BOUND: Tell us a little of your history.

MOLLY: I am from Sweden and I call Sälen home. It’s a ski resort town among the smaller mountains, right on the border of Norway. This is the place I go when I am not in my “office” of nature.

In Sweden it’s very easy to access paddlesports. You can rent a kayak in downtown Stockholm and do a day paddle, or you can go anywhere along the Swedish coastline for however long of a trip you want.

For the past 6 months I have been based out of Baja, Mexico as a sea kayak instructor for NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). So around 6 months of the year I call a tent or a tarp my home!

Baja is a truly magical place to get to paddle in. Stunning landscape, a billion stars at night, some nights with bioluminescence and so much wildlife.

bioluminescence along the ocean shoreline at night

Bioluminescence in the water outside Mulege, Baja Mexico

AQUA BOUND: Where did you get your kayak training?

MOLLY: I went to an outdoor guiding school in Finland called Outdoor Academy, where I learned to sea kayak and guide. After that I did an internship in England, and then my instructor courses for both NOLS and the Swedish Canoeing Association.

My biggest passion is teaching and creating experiences for people.

NOLS has given me great opportunities to teach in different places. It’s taken me to Norway, Mexico and, this summer, Alaska. These are incredible opportunities for me to explore so many different places.

AQUA BOUND: What age groups do you work with?

MOLLY: I mainly work with adults, depending where and what courses I am working. In Sweden it’s mainly middle-aged adults, and for NOLS the most common age group is young adults, 18-23 years. But even for NOLS we have specific courses for adults over 23 years as well.

AQUA BOUND: What suggestions do you have for others who’d like to do what you do?

MOLLY: My biggest recommendation to start kayaking is to find a course. In the US look for an ACA course (American Canoe Association). In Sweden there are many good companies that offer first-time kayaker courses. I would look for companies that follow the EPP standards (European Paddle Pass).

three people kayaking with a mountain shoreline in the background

Instructors for Outdoor Academy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

To become an instructor, I would say keep taking courses, but also find time to practice. It’s equally important for the world of guiding and teaching to become both a better kayaker and a better instructor. It’s especially important to level up your game of risk assessment.

A sea kayak symposium is an incredible place to develop skills, and also to meet others who are into the same sport. NOLS has adult courses that would be a great way to learn what you need to for recreational kayaking. They’re also a great chance to go camping for 7-14 days in beautiful places!

kayaker on the water at sunrise, two anchored sailboats in the distance

Sunrise paddle with a NOLS course, north of Loreto, Baja Mexico

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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