Five Essential Tips Everyone Should Know Before Going Kayaking

June 30, 2020

There is absolutely no doubt that kayaking is one of the best and the most adventurous water sports you can take up. Most people are concerned about kayaking, because they think it is difficult to learn and excel at. Well, the truth is that just like cycling, if you learn the basics and even take a lesson, you will be out on the water exploring in no time.

There are three types of kayaking to choose from: flat water kayaking, sea or touring kayaking, and whitewater kayaking. As a beginner, before heading out on your first adventure, make it a priority to first gain some knowledge from resources like

To get you started, here are five essential tips that everyone should know before embarking on their first adventure:

1- Always start with a lesson

Some people think “how hard can it be to paddle a kayak?” Well, indeed kayaking is not that difficult, but for safety purposes, you should gain some skill first. Instead, to get the most enjoyment out of your maiden voyage, you should take a lesson or have an experienced kayaker take you out to demonstrate and have you practice some important skills. Without coaching, the chances are that you will see yourself paddling around in circles for at least half an hour, and that can be very frustrating. You will get the hang of it in no time at all and be ready to tackle any challenges you might encounter when you first head out. You can check with your local outfitter for lessons or advice.

2- Dress according to the water

The water temperature should be the number one factor that you consider when choosing what to wear while paddling. If it is sunny out, do not think that shorts and a tee will work for you. It will not, especially if the water is ice cold. There is always a chance that you fall into the water, so be prepared and dress for the conditions. You need to take air temperature and water temperature into consideration when deciding what to wear. Also, regardless of your ability to swim, a life-jacket must be worn at all times when in your kayak.

3- The right boat

Next comes the selection of the right boat. There are several different types of kayaks available and it is important that you pick the right one if you want your first kayaking adventure to be enjoyable. For example, if you are paddling on a lake, you should use a sit-in flatwater or recreational boat. As a beginner just getting started, a sit-on-top kayak is also a solid option. Your local outfitter can help you select the perfect boat for your intended use. Some people like to try their hand at canoeing instead of kayaking. Canoes typically have an open deck and can sit more people than a kayak. Check out this guide from William Montgomery Cerf on how to choose the perfect canoe. 

4- Sit properly 

Learning how to sit properly in a kayak will do wonders for you when you are learning to paddle. The correct posture involves sitting up straight with your back against the seat and the balls of your feet on the foot pegs. Even if your kayak has an extremely comfortable backrest, you should still maintain good posture to allow your paddle strokes to be as efficient as possible. A lot of the energy expended comes from your core and your back. This gives you more power and helps reduce fatigue in your arms.

5- Hold the paddle the right way

This tip is quite obvious, but still, some people hold their paddles the wrong way. The correct way to hold your handles is centered on the paddle shaft, shoulder-width apart. Also, the scoop of the blade (the concave part) should be facing you. Unless you want to paddle backwards (and there are better ways to do this) never paddle with the scoop facing the other way. If you are canoeing, be aware that you will be using an oar with a single blade. In this case, one hand holds the t-grip at the end of the paddle and the other holds the oar midway down the shaft.


These are some of the most important tips you should know before heading out on your first kayaking adventure. With the basics covered, you can launch and look forward to many years of paddling fun.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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