There are numerous yet similarly pleasurable differences when choosing between sea kayaking and whitewater kayaking.
Choosing between whitewater versus sea kayaking is a matter of personal preference and depends on your personality.
Your choice also depends on what is easily accessible in your region and the kind of kayaker you aspire to be.
It’s usually a case of being influenced by the people who start you off and the social group you become part of.
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Whitewater versus sea kayaking
Whitewater kayaking usually brings to mind adventurers plunging down steep waterfalls and navigating through extremely rocky, tough water. In reality this is only one aspect of the truth.
Many amateur paddlers seek quieter waters that allow them to experiment and explore some remote locations.
Sea kayaking is similar. There is a broad spectrum of kayakers… Some take extended trips in rugged and fairly remote waters while others opt for easier excursions.
The luckier ones manage to get out on the water almost every day in summer, and some use the water to commute.
Kayaking is usually done solo, but a good 20 percent of the kayaks are doubles in the sea kayaking niche.
Whitewater kayaking is a more specific sport. There are tandem whitewater kayaks, but these are rather exceptions.
Kayaking offers many different choices for you to peruse. You can have a leisurely, short trip or opt for a more adventurous expedition.
Its main virtue definitely lies in the fact that kayaking is suitable for individuals of any age, size, weight and capability.
Identify your kayaking preference
What’s your choice?
Some sea kayakers live closer to rivers than the sea, and some whitewater paddlers take pleasure in the wilderness vacation potential of the sport.
Sea kayaking is for you if:
- You’re looking to be with a small group or just seeking to have some time to yourself
- Access to nature and unspoiled locations is your goal
- You want the simple option of self-sufficient, outdoor camping
- You live near an ocean, flatwater river, or lake
Go for whitewater kayaking if:
- You’re seeking an exhilarating, outdoor sport
- You don’t mind going underwater once in a while
- Sport and physical exercise is your primary goal
- You are patient enough and comfortable with a longer learning curve
- You happen to live near whitewater streams
Best heavy-duty kayaks for tall and heavy people
Do you want to know which kayak is the best choice for you?
Then you should definitely check our article the best high weight capacity kayak for big guys.
Kayaking skills needed for whitewater and sea kayaking
The strokes for both sea and whitewater kayaking are practically the same.
If you live near the water, you could choose one kayaking type during the week and aim for the other during your vacations.
Learning the standard kayaking maneuvers will help you enjoy a range of basic leisure activities.
Examples are fishing, bird watching, photographing, outdoor camping and anything you may encounter on a more extended tour.
Tip: Pay attention to how much weight a kayak can hold before investing your money as it needs to support both your body weight and all your gear.
If you like point-to-point travel, you might want to integrate your kayaking skills with outdoor camping.
These independent journeys are extremely satisfying. In fact, they’re a great way to overnight trips without carrying a backpack.
The kayak will carry your equipment and all you need to do is choose a suitable spot and pull it up on shore.
Play paddling is the most popular type of whitewater paddling. Kayakers use the river’s currents, bends and waves to navigate and explore the waterways.
It is a very safe choice for the whitewater kayaker. It allows you to pick rivers and rapids that are commensurate with your capability and risk appetite.
Common principles, strokes, and maneuvers are shared between all paddle sports and offer you the foundation to become a solid, multi-disciplined paddler.
It doesn’t have to be black and white either as you can explore other paddle sports too!
Although we just covered the basics in this article, you can easily seek further guidelines and experience to adapt fundamental techniques to suit your wants and needs.
For example, read our buying guide covering kayaks for big guys if you are looking for a solid and stable heavy-duty kayak.