Looking to start your own adventure into paddle sports? Not sure what kayaks to buy to suit your needs? Let us guide you through your kayak options for rivers and sea.
This staycation summer in the UK is the ideal time to invest in your own kayaks or take part in a kayaking course. It’s easy to become boggled by the range of different kayaks on the market for rivers and sea, because there are so many places and ways to paddle. But there are plenty of different kayaks available to suit every need.
The first step is to choose what kind of paddling you want to do – and where possible try out a few different types to see what you like best. So the big question is: what do you want to do on the water?
I want to… play/ explore/ get the kids out
We love getting out and about having fun on the water, and encouraging our own family and other small people to do the same! There are lots of options when it comes to accessible, safe and fun ways to take your first steps on to the water…
Sit on tops
Sit on top kayaks are ideal for people starting out with kayaking – they’re so named because you sit on top of them rather that inside. There is far less to worry about when it comes to tipping over! Designed to be stable and reliable, they’re a great way to get up close and personal with lakes, rivers, estuaries and even the sea. They’re also great fun for kids who love moving about on them, and of course falling in!
Large and very stable, traditional Canadian canoes are a great way to introduce kids to paddlesports. Due to their size they can be tricky to handle in windy conditions and are best suited to rivers, lakes and estuaries. But because they are large you can fit up to 3 seats in them, as well as everything you need for a day out on the water.
I want to… paddle rivers
Placid flowing canals, right through to fast moving white water; there’s a type of river paddling for everyone! Choose the right kind of boat for you, and there’ll be no end to the fun!
Whitewater River Kayaks
Designed to be easy to turn and manoeuvre as well as sturdy. whitewater kayaks are great for running rapids and dropping over weirs and waterfalls. If you’re a thrill seeker looking to develop whitewater skills, a specific boat is a must. There’s a huge range available depending on your experience, as well as size and weight considerations.
Much like whitewater kayaks, play boats are short and manoeuvrable, allowing for plenty of play! These types of boats are used for tricks such as flips, cartwheels and jumps as well as in standing waves and holes, found in rivers and weirs. These types of boats do require a little more experience, particularly a reliable roll- as it’s highly likely you’ll end up upside down!
Sit on top Kayaks on rivers
Sit on tops are great for gentle flowing rivers and canals, but aren’t designed for rapid moving water!
Canoes are great on rivers and can be taken on whitewater, though they are a lot more difficult to turn than whitewater kayaks. With plenty of space to pack up everything you’ll need for a weekend away, canoes are great for mini adventures down the river.
I want to… paddle on the sea
We may be biased with our base on Middle beach in Studland, but we believe the sea is the very best place to paddle! Ranging from beautiful calm coves and beaches to wild raging seas- there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy kayaking on the big blue.
These long narrow boats are naturally at home on the sea- meaning you’re able to cover large distances more easily. With key features designed to help these boats cope in wind and waves, as well as hatches and space to take kit with you, they’re a great way to explore the coast.
Touring Sea Kayaks
Shorter and more stable than sea kayaks, touring kayaks are often thought of as halfway between whitewater boats and sea kayaks. Touring kayaks are a great all rounder. Although they don’t cope with the wind as well as sea kayaks, they’re still comfortable for longer journeys than boats designed for rivers.
Designed in much the same way as surfboard. These boats will catch a wave and make it possible to perform many of the same tricks as traditional surfers. Many will have a fin and a high bow- great for surfing but not ideal for much else as they do not perform well on flat water.
Sit on top Kayaks
We love sit on top kayaks for exploring more sheltered areas of the coast. They’re easy to hop on and off of, meaning you can explore coves, caves and hidden beaches along your way. They often feature enough space to take everything you’ll need for a day out on the water.
I want to … compete in kayak races
If you’re a bit more serious about your paddling you might want to compete, and there are options aplenty out there for those with a competitive streak.
Getting into kayak racing is great if you’re keen on fitness. Racing kayaks are very long and thin. The slightly different way you sit makes them incredibly streamlined, but very unstable when they’re not moving, and difficult to turn. Races generally go from between 200m and 1000m on flat water. Race kayaks can be for 1 person, or up to 4 people.
Designed to move forwards and turn quickly. Slalom boats are ideally designed for running competitive slalom courses. Very shallow hulls mean the boat can slice through the water, achieving quick turns with good acceleration.
Kayak polo is a five a side ball game played much like basketball. Much like whitewater and slalom boats, kayaks designed for polo are speedy and manoeuvrable, but are fairly unstable. They also usually feature foam pads on the front and back to minimise injury from collisions.
Whatever kayak or water craft appeals to you we are here to help. We run regular sea kayaking tuition sessions in Dorset. Ranging from beginner sessions for complete novices. To more intermediate and advanced sea kayak courses.
If it’s just a splash about with family or friends you are after then join one of our highly rated kayak tours to explore Old Harry Rocks. Our sit on top kayaks are also available to hire in the summer months from May – September.