6 Reasons to Try Sea Kayaking

In the world of paddle sports, whitewater kayaking is glamorous and hardcore, stand up paddleboarding is trendy, but sea kayaking? It remains somewhat of a redheaded stepchild, until now. Here are six reasons to give sea kayaking a chance:

Sure, you can roll in a whitewater kayak, but executing a roll in a tandem sea kayak is more impressive. Once you (and a friend) have mastered rolling a single, test your skills in a tandem. Bonus points for executing a roll in a fully-loaded touring boat.

You don’t have to stay in calm water with a sea kayak—the boat’s length and its slender shape make it ideal for surfing. A group of expert paddlers in California and the Pacific Northwest has been pushing the envelope of kayak surfing for decades. Decked out in hockey helmets and arm pads, the Tsunami Rangers paddle in sea caves, rock gardens, and remote surf areas.

Designed for long trips, sea kayaks are ideal for coastal expeditions. Once you’re an experienced paddler, you start to see coastlines as an endless network of trails. Note-worthy sea kayak adventures include circumnavigating one of the Great Lakes, hopping along the Maine Island Trail, and paddling along the entire coast of Alaska.

You don’t have to live by the ocean to benefit from trying a sea kayak. The boats are a great choice for lakes, especially if you’re looking for a new places to swim. The best places to swim aren’t usually accessible by road. Escape the crowds and the noise at busy swimming spots by paddling along the shore until you find something quieter.

Sea kayaking is an easy way to view wildlife because the boats sit so slow in the water. In the Atlantic, seals sometimes climb on the back of kayaks, while in the Pacific, you might have a close encounter with a whale. There are strict laws governing how close you get to these animals, so be sure to brush up on the Marine Mammal Protection Act before you go out.

Some sit-on-top kayaks come specially rigged for fishing, but traditional (sit-inside) sea kayak work well, too. The boats are stable enough that some fishermen in Maine use them to check their lobster traps. Just make sure you have a way to cut your line in case you hook something you weren’t expecting (like this guy who had his catch stolen by a shark).