Sea Kayaking for Beginners 2023 – Top 7 Expert Tips Ultimate Guide

Sea kayaking has always been a popular pastime among coastal towns. Sea kayaking is now much more of a leisure activity, although many early people depended on it as a way to fish, which was one of their major sources of nutrition. There is also a lot to learn regarding currents, tides, and other environmental aspects unique to the ocean. Additionally, you want to become familiar with one of the best sea kayaks for beginners.

Excellent opportunities for wildlife watching and motorboat-only access to locations are provided by this sport. However, many sea kayaks might feel tight & unstable when you first start. You must read this complete article on sea kayaking for beginners guide before getting into the ocean.

Which Kayak Type Is Ideal For The Ocean?

Sea Kayaking for Beginners

Some kayaks perform better than others when they strike the water.

Because they are made with broad seas in mind, touring kayaks, sometimes known as “sea kayaks,” are typically your best option. Longer, more streamlined hulls are designed for unmatched efficiency on longer voyages, outstanding handling, and superior tracking performance.

Recreational kayaking is a good alternative as well, but only if you want to paddle in quiet bays and coastal regions where the waves aren’t too harsh.

While an inflatable kayak may be quite practical in other situations, it is not a good idea to use one in the choppy ocean seas.

Theoretically, any kayak might be used on open water provided that it meets the following criteria:

  • Has a beam width of 20 to 36 inches and a minimum length of 14 feet.
  • Features a less prominent rocker and a V-shaped hull emphasizing secondary stability.
  • Lower in the center of gravity.
  • Includes watertight storage hatches and integrated bulkheads, sealed spaces that increase buoyancy.
  • Has a retractable skeg or rudder mechanism, and it has good tracking performance.
  • Includes footrests and thigh bracing for more control and support.

7 Tips for Sea Kayaking for Beginners

Compared to kayaking on lakes or rivers, ocean kayaking naturally involves more variables. So, the most crucial advice to enable you to get to be a prepared & proactive sea kayaker is provided below.

1. Getting the Fundamentals Right

Starting to sea kayak requires instruction, which cannot be ignored. Yes, you may gain knowledge by watching videos, but to get comfortable and confident, you’ll need to practice and receive hands-on instruction.

The good news is that sea kayaking instruction is available worldwide through a large number of outfitters and guiding services. The American Canoe Organization,, and The Kayak Academy are just a few excellent sites for locating future sea kayaking courses in various areas.

Make sure you’re not clutching your paddle too tightly when you’re starting to sea kayak.

To prevent your hands from being too tired too fast and from getting hot hotspots on the inside of the thumbs, you should have a tight yet relaxed grip.

As the most evident body components responsible for controlling a kayak paddle, beginners frequently concentrate on their hands and arms.

To prevent your arms from getting too tired too soon, though, an effective paddling technique necessitates using your core muscles.

With each paddle stroke, concentrate on maintaining your torso erect and gently swaying from side to side. You may do this to build core strength and avoid overusing the arm and shoulder muscles.

Beginners should focus on keeping their noses squarely above their belly buttons to stay steady in their sea kayaks.

A slight core twist is necessary for proper paddling technique, but you should never lean too far to one side to insert your paddle because doing so increases your risk of capsizing.

2. Emergency Maneuvers and Rescue Methods

“It’s not an issue of IF, but simply a matter of WHEN,” a wise mentor once stated. Beginners in sea kayaking should study several rescue methods & emergency maneuvers before venturing out on their own.

Wet exits are arguably the most crucial emergency move that newbies should learn. If you’ve capsized your kayak, you can use this method to get out of the cockpit safely.

To turn out to be more used to the procedure, rehearsing wet ways out in a pool as well as other shallow waterways is strongly suggested.

Indeed, even before figuring out how to return an ocean kayak, you ought to have the option to haul yourself out quickly if vital, both with and without a shower skirt safeguarding the cockpit.

This T-Rescue is a different rescue method that all beginning sea kayakers should become familiar with. This technique calls for two kayakers, although it’s better to practice it with a partner that has more paddling expertise.

It’s a practical method for turning a kayak around and helping a paddle buddy get back inside.

Before progressing with your paddling adventures, it’s crucial to get proficient in several rescue methods and emergency maneuvers in case you require them.

3. Trip Preparation

With greater planning and thorough preparation, many of the problems that novice sea kayakers have may be avoided. Choosing a safe route is the ideal first step in planning for your paddle.

Always choose a path that puts you near the coast if you’re a newbie. As lengthy open water crossings can become challenging as your bladder fills up, this is a wise tip for paddlers of all ability levels.

In a sea kayak, the typical speed for paddlers is 1-3 miles per hour. Your precise speed will be influenced by the wind, the waves, and your degree of fitness.

You can better predict how far you can travel in an acceptable period by using this statistic when organizing your kayaking adventures. You don’t want to underestimate how much time it will take to reach where you’re going and back.

On the water, beginners frequently underestimate distances. Simply said, it is more difficult to estimate how far away “that next point” is while you are floating in a kayak.

To find out distances before you go, we advise utilizing a map book (or Google Maps).

Google Maps provides a helpful tool that enables you to determine the straight-line distance between your current location and any location on the ocean you’re interested in visiting.

When sea kayaking, knowing the wind and waves is crucial to trip preparation. You ought to be fully aware of the local weather patterns when leaving home.

By doing this, you may prepare for a wind-assisted return to the starting place so that you don’t have to struggle against it once you’re already worn out. An excellent source of information on global wind direction, speed, and gusts is the Ventusky app.

Sea kayaking, in contrast to all other types of kayaking, calls for a deeper comprehension of the water. It contains information on tides, waves, wind, rip currents, and the seasonal movements of fauna.

To learn more about tides and how they could affect your sea kayaking adventures, read this article. To avoid putting yourself in a situation where you can return to the spot where you launched the kayak, make sure you spend some time learning about ocean currents.

4. Safety

The kinds of safety equipment that are necessary for all sea kayaking, whether you’re a novice or not, have previously been covered. But before they head out onto the water, newcomers to sea kayaking must be aware of a lot of important safety considerations. 

Although none of these are meant to deter you from sea kayaking, it’s crucial to keep in mind that they’re all critical considerations to make to guarantee your safety and that of your sea kayaking group.

5. Paddling in Groups

Although it is possible to sea kayak alone, we do not advise beginners to do so. When you go together, everyone not only has more fun and also can share advice on how to get better, but you can also help one another if someone falls and make decisions as a group if the weather changes.

 It’s also a good idea to let others know you’re going to the water, even if you’re in a group, and to pack a fast-charging phone so you can call and be reached.

6. Professional Guidelines

If you want to develop your technique early on but aren’t very keen on paddling down a river until you reach the sea, it’s worth looking into taking lessons. You may improve your paddling abilities and learn how to navigate the water by choosing to spend a day with a qualified teacher.

7. Getting Ready on a River

Although they are distinct from one another (see our section on the river versus sea kayaks), as a novice, it could be worthwhile to go for river paddling before you venture out to sea. This will help you perfect your paddling technique and ensure that your muscles and skills are ready to handle what may be a taxing experience when you do ultimately venture to the salty seawater. 

 As a novice, it should mean that you’ll be more accustomed to exiting your kayak, making the process of getting back in much simpler. It may seem unusual, but being accustomed to being wet and having the quick reflexes to get back on the kayak are underrated kayaking skills.

How to Make Kayak Adjustments

A properly fitted kayak will be easier to paddle and more stable. When making adjustments, focus on 3 points of contact when the boat is stationary on dry land:

  • forcefully press your butt onto the seatback. Choose the angle that feels most comfortable for you if your boat allows you to adjust the seatback or seat angle. To build balance and strength, though, you need to sit more straight.
  • Check to see whether you have a tiny bend in your knees after placing the balls of the feet on the footpegs. The majority of footpeg adjustments include tilting and sliding them down a track to predetermined stopping positions. The process of sliding the pegs is frequently made simpler by getting out of the boat.
  • Make sure both of your bent legs are firmly planted against the cockpit’s sides. By doing so, you may better manage the boat’s side-to-side motion while you paddle. While it should be snug, you shouldn’t be unable to exit if you capsize.

Purchasing a Sea Kayak

It’s time to talk about picking a sea kayak now that we’ve covered key kayaking terminology and sea kayaking advice. When choosing sea kayaks for beginners, you should emphasize the most important features and characteristics listed in this buying guide.

Length and Width

The elements of an ocean kayak will assume an enormous part in the fact that it is so natural to move. By and large, a more extended kayak will accomplish higher maximum velocities and track straighter, while a more limited kayak will offer more noteworthy mobility.

All in all, as a kayak’s length builds, covering more distance in a more limited measure of time will be capable. This likewise relies upon climate and paddler’s wellness level, however, this is for the most part evident assuming any remaining elements are equivalent.

The penance that you’ll make with a more extended kayak is a diminished capacity to make fast turns or move the kayak in restricted spaces. This might make turning slower if you need to assist a friend or partner in getting back into their kayak.

More limited kayaks will be a lot simpler to move and turn, yet they by and large won’t cover as much distance as possible in a similar measure of time, given all else is equivalent.

A sea kayak’s stability is significantly impacted by its breadth. Although it can mean giving up performance over longer distances, a wider kayak is more secure than a narrower one.

Larger-width kayaks frequently have larger cockpits as well. For larger paddlers, it’s crucial to check that the cockpit is spacious enough for them to feel comfortable when out on the lake.


Sometimes getting the kayak into or out of the water is the most difficult aspect of learning to kayak. Sea kayaks often weigh a little bit more than many other kayak models due to their length.

If you want to avoid carrying your kayak to the water, all novices should think about investing in a wheeled kayak cart. As a result, you only need to make one journey from your car to the lake to pack all of your stuff into your kayak.

Simply be sure you are capable of transporting the kayak you select over a short distance if you decide against using a kayak cart to assist with on-land transportation.

Skeg and without Skeg?

The majority of the top sea kayaks are equipped with skegs or can accommodate aftermarket skegs that must be purchased separately and fitted by the user. When you’re battling winds, waves, and currents, a skeg is fantastic for better tracking.

However, if you’re a novice, using a skeg might be a little challenging. Before you start worrying about how to handle a skeg, you’ll want to have a firm grasp on your fundamental kayaking abilities, emergency maneuvers, & rescue tactics.

The majority of skegs are foot-operated, allowing you to modify them without taking your hands off the paddle. However, with some, you have to remove one hand from your paddle to adjust the skeg placement.

If you want to use your sea kayak largely in sheltered saltwater bays or coastal waterways, you may not require a skeg. This will similarly be the situation if you don’t want to travel very far.

The advantages of a skeg, though, are something you’ll want if you ever plan to lead a multiday sea kayaking adventure. The skeg will also come in handy if you frequently paddle in places with strong winds or currents.

It’s really smart to remember the benefits of a skeg even though you might not have any desire to get going with one. If you’re uncertain about this, you may continuously pick a kayak with a retractable skeg and one that will permit you to add a skeg later on.

Dimensions of the Cockpit

Every reputable sea kayak maker should list the boats’ cockpit measurements. If they can’t understand, it’s a red flag that you should check into kayaks made by a different business.

The size of the kayak’s cockpit will affect how cozy it is once you’re inside. Although the majority of these kayaks aren’t particularly roomy, you should always pick one that is suitable for your body type.

To begin, measure the lower body from hip to hip. The Iliac crest on each hip should be used to provide the most precise measurement feasible for this determination.

From there, increase your measurement by 12 inches. It will give you an idea of the cockpit width to aim for when comparing sea kayaks, and it will also leave you with a full 6” of room on either side of the body when seated in the cockpit.

Although this may be a bit generous, it should still help you gauge how much room you’ll have in the kayak cockpit.

For instance, if a person chooses a kayak with a 19″ wide cockpit, they will have 1.5″ of space on either side of the body. This person has a hip-to-hip measurement of 16 inches.

Kayaking Equipment

Anyone providing a kayak should also supply the following:

  • Personal Flotation Device that will be correctly fitted and certified by the Coast Guard.
  • Paddle (ask them to make sure it’s the proper size for you).
  • Drain pump
  • Spray skirt (optional on calm and warm days).

Appropriate Attire

For a hot-weather, warm-water excursion, bring the following:

  • Briefs or swimwear (noncotton and nonbinding).
  • Rashguard top with short or long sleeves (any noncotton top will work).
  • Shoes made of neoprene.
  • Sun protection hat.
  • Lightweight vest or jacket made of fleece (weather-dependent).
  • Spray-on clothing or rain pants (weather-dependent).

Personal Belongings for Beginners

Beginners should keep all the given personal Essentials:

  • Water, lots of it.
  • Energy snacks, as well as a lunch for extended journeys.
  • Lip balm, sunglasses, & sunblock 
  • First-aid supply.
  • Whistling signal.
  • Watch 
  • Headlamp (in case you return too slowly).
  • Dry bags (to protect items from water).


1. Is a license required to paddle in the ocean?

Narrowboats and unpowered vessels including kayaks, canoes, dinghies, rowing boats, surfboards, and light inflatable vessels are included in this. You don’t need a license if you’re kayaking on water that doesn’t require one, such as the sea, estuaries, tidal areas, rivers, or canals.

2. Which kayak is ideal for ocean use?

Because they are made with broad seas in mind, touring kayaks, sometimes known as “sea kayaks,” are typically your best option. Longer, more streamlined hulls are designed for unmatched efficiency on longer voyages, outstanding handling, and superior tracking performance.

3. What length is ideal for a sea kayak?

Touring kayaks—Around 12 to 17 feet in length, touring kayaks are typically the longest of all kayak types. 

4. What is the capacity of a sea kayak?

Sea kayaks are utilized all over the world for sea voyages ranging from a few hrs to several weeks since they can hold 1 to 3 paddlers as well as outdoor gear, food, water, or other essentials.

5. How far can a sea kayak go in a single day?

An average kayaker with some experience may easily paddle 10 to 20 kilometers per day in a medium-sized solo boat.

Final Verdict – Sea Kayaking for Beginners

As a beginning sea kayaker, it’s wise to start in sheltered bays or quieter coastal waters. Before adding more variables, you should get more at ease in your kayak and improve your paddling techniques. This involves putting the different kayak rescue tactics and wet escapes to the test. When moving to open water & longer ocean paddles if you can’t get in and out of the kayak in deep water.

The environment, though, is one of sea kayaking’s major obstacles once you’re ready to advance. When you’re on the water, conditions might change at any time, so you need to be ready for anything.

We simply cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is to prepare ahead of time, have additional supplies in a suitable dry bag, and have the necessary equipment to enable you to foresee and adapt to weather changes in a proactive manner and as usual, make sure anybody on land (a dependable friend or relative) is aware of where you’re paddling and also how long you expect to be gone so they can notify authorities if something goes wrong!

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