HomeTypes of kayaksWhat is Ocean Kayaking?

What is Ocean Kayaking?

The Ultimate Guide to Ocean Kayaking

Ocean kayaking is an exhilarating experience that offers a unique perspective of the open water. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to embark on your ocean kayaking adventure.

What is an Ocean Kayak?

An ocean kayak, also known as a sea kayak, is specifically designed for open water paddling. It’s typically longer and narrower than recreational kayaks, which enhances its stability and maneuverability in the ocean waves. Ocean kayaks come in various designs, including sit-inside and sit-on-top models, each with its unique features and benefits.

Choosing the Best Ocean Kayak

When choosing the best ocean kayak, several factors come into play. These include the kayak’s design, features, stability, maneuverability, tracking, storage, comfort, and safety. Here’s a closer look at each of these aspects:

Kayak Design

The design of an ocean kayak plays a crucial role in its performance. There are two main types of ocean kayaks: sit-inside and sit-on-top.

  • Sit-inside Kayak: This design offers a lower center of gravity, which enhances stability and allows for more efficient paddling. It also provides better protection against the elements.
  • Sit-on-top Kayak: This design is more user-friendly, especially for beginners. It’s easy to get on and off, and if it capsizes, you can simply flip it back over and climb back on.

Kayak Features

Ocean kayaks come with various features that enhance their performance and usability. These include a rudder or skeg for improved tracking, bulkheads for added buoyancy, and hatches for storage. Some ocean kayaks also come with comfort features such as padded seats and adjustable footrests.

Kayak Stability

Stability is a crucial factor when choosing an ocean kayak. Kayaks with a wider hull offer more primary stability (stability when sitting still in calm water), making them suitable for beginners. On the other hand, kayaks with a narrower hull offer more secondary stability (stability when moving or in rough water), making them suitable for more experienced paddlers.

Kayak Maneuverability and Tracking

Maneuverability refers to how easily a kayak can change direction, while tracking refers to how well a kayak maintains its course without veering off to the side. Longer kayaks generally track better but are less maneuverable, while shorter kayaks are more maneuverable but don’t track as well.

Kayak Storage

If you plan on going on long trips, you’ll need an ocean kayak with ample storage space. Look for kayaks with hatches and bungee cords where you can secure your gear.

Kayak Comfort and Safety

Comfort is crucial, especially on long trips. Look for kayaks with adjustable seats and footrests, and enough legroom. Safety features to look for include reflective lifelines, a paddle leash, and a bilge pump.

Ocean Kayaking Tips

Here are some tips to enhance your ocean kayaking experience:

  1. Check the Weather and Tides: Always check the weather forecast and tide times before you set off. Avoid going out in rough weather or when the tides are against you.
  2. Wear Appropriate Gear: Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. Also, dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
  3. Practice Self-Rescue Techniques: Learn and practice self-rescue techniques so you can get back into your kayak if you capsize.
  4. Follow the “Rule of Thirds”: Plan to use one-third of your time/energy to go out, one-third to get back, and keep one-third in reserve.
  5. Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid disturbing their natural behavior.


Ocean kayaking is a rewarding activity that offers a unique way to explore the open water. With the right kayak and proper preparation, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure. Happy paddling!


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