How To Get Started Kayaking

Father and son rowing boats

Kayaking has become a mainstay in outdoor recreation. The sport which once catered only to extreme adrenaline junkies has now worked its way into the outdoor sport lexicon. Kayaking is seen by many as an excellent way to combine meditative and physical exercise in beautiful outdoor settings. Kayaking features seem to increasingly grace the covers of magazines as well as the tops of cars, as readers and drivers of all ages and backgrounds embrace the sport and its health and relaxation benefits. Anyone interested in enjoying the popular sport needs only to make a few necessary considerations to let the fun begin.

One of the first things to consider is what type of kayaking you intend to do. The decision is usually based on budget, fitness level, tolerance for risk or danger, and geographic location.

Step 1

Rent or Buy?

In regards to budget, you need to consider whether you want to rent or buy a kayak. This may depend on how often you can get away from work and other obligations to enjoy using the kayak.  For someone who may only make it out to the river a couple of times a year, renting can be a great option. Many marinas at lakes, bays, and rivers rent kayaks by the hour, day or even for the weekend. Renting and using a kayak at the same location will also cut out the expense of purchasing a roof rack to transport the kayak on your car roof.

Step 2

Lake or River?

If you decide that you want to purchase your own kayak, you need to decide what type of kayaking you intend to do. Your geographic location may play into this decision. What type of water do you live near or frequently visit? White water dare devil kayaking, placid lake paddling, and oceans kayaking all require different boats.  If you're a beginner, stability may be your most prominent consideration. 

Step 3


Price range can vary quite a bit depending on which kayak type and quality level you decide to purchase.  A basic plastic hard-shell starts at around $250-$300, with fiberglass kayaks starting at around $1,000. The least expensive kayak will usually be the inflatable kayak, which also offers great flexibility and portability if storage and transportation are an issue for you.

Step 4


Once you have decided what type of kayak will get you in the water, it's important to stop and think about safety.  People who choose to delve into white water kayaking need to take a class or start out with a guide.  It's not something that should be done without prior instruction, practice and guidance.  The need for guidance to get started in the sport isn't limited to extreme white water kayaking. Anyone doing anything they feel uncertain about should consult an expert or experienced friend to guide them. Like any other sport or activity, kayaking safety should, above all else, involve common sense. If you are traversing white water filled with rocks, use a helmet. Dress appropriately, and be prepared for emergencies. Basic kayak safety also includes use of a life jacket, the ability to swim, and using proper sun protection for your skin and eyes. Proper safety is an important component in enjoying your new hobby without accident and injury.

Step 5


Kayaking requires a certain amount of stamina, energy and endurance. First-time kayakers often comment that they used muscles they didn't know they ever had! If you normally lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, start training with some core and arm strengthening combined with light cardio exercise. This can minimize the soreness and fatigue you will feel out on the water. Being physically prepared can help to maximize the enjoyment of your first trips into the water.

Alright, you have made some important decisions. You know what you want to do, you've purchased your kayak, you've done your research on safety and gone through any classes you need to take, and it's time to head out to the water. Kayaking is a great workout, a soothing way to clear your mind, and an ideal reason to get outside. Be safe and enjoy!

Jason Kay recommends you read beginner kayaking information and advice at Also learn about basic kayaking equipment, the best Alaska kayaking destinations, and the best Hawaii kayaking destinations.

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Thanks for the article. Now I can get started kayaking!

By Tracey Parker