Best Kayaks for the Ocean | Ultimate Review [year]

Timeless and dramatic, the ocean is a kayaker’s paradise. From the gentle paddler to the avid angler, there is much to enjoy and explore on the open water.

Knowing which kayak will give you the best level of comfort, as well as flexibility on the waves, can be overwhelming! Then you have to think about your gear, storage and for some of us, how you’re going to set up your fishing rod.

Don’t worry though! We’re going to give you our rundown of the top 6 best kayaks for the ocean.

This is the best water shoe for kayaking on this list: 

Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade
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Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade
Excellent sun protection providing over 10 sq ft of shade. The perfect addition to any explorers kayaking kit


1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Best for comfort

Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade

What’s Good?
  • Comfortable: The Intent Explorer 2 comes has a seat which is inflatable, adjustable, and supportive for your back, making things comfortable for any long Kayak session
  • Spacious: Enough room for you and your gear
    Weight: Can hold up to 400lbs (180kg)
  • Easy set-up: Boston valves for quick inflate and deflate
  • Puncture resistant: Made with heavy-duty vinyl
  • Easy to transport: Compact carry case for ease
  • Tandem seating: 2 seater kayak
What’s Bad?
  • Limited accessories: No integrated fishing rod holders
  • Shallow cockpit: Low to the water

Overall the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a well-designed sporty and fun boat. Streamlined in its design, the Explorer K2 is easy to paddle and perfect for exploring lakes and mild rivers with a partner. It’s comfortable too. With its adjustable inflated seats, you can position yourself in the optimum position for paddling.

With the additional removable skeg onboard, you can easily navigate lakes, ponds and rivers. Splashback is also not a problem with the Explorer K2, as the upturned nose will take the bulk of the water.

As great as this yak is, you will struggle to go out on the open ocean and to get in a quiet spot of fishing. Although sturdy and made with a rugged vinyl construction, rougher waters will be too much for the Explorer K2. As well as the limited space for accessories and angling gear onboard, your better off taking the Explorer K2 out on the calmer waters.

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2. Intex Challenger Kayak Series

Best for adventure

Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade

What’s Good?
  • Comfortable: Cockpit and inflatable seat designed for maximum comfort and space for a long day out on the water
  • Nimble & durable: Made from heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl
  • Weight: Can hold up to 220lbs (100kg)
  • Easy set-up: Boston valves for quick inflate and deflate
  • Stable & Safe: I-beam floors add stability and strength to the Intex Challenger
  • Storage space: Cargo net to keep your gear safe and secure and a grab line on both ends of the kayak
  • Built for adventure: Single seated (K1) or two-seated (K2) kayak
What’s Bad?
  • Single skin: Makes your kayak more vulnerable to rocky and sharp terrain
  • Chunky sidewall: You will struggle not to rub the sides with your paddles
  • Two chambers: If one of the chambers gives out on the water, you may struggle to come back to the shore dry!

There’s a lot to like with the Intex Explorer Kayak Series. You will undoubtedly stand out on the water with the Explorer’s design! Fun, streamlined and packing quite a punch on the water, this kayak is great for a day out. For those with a tight budget, the Explorer is at the cheaper end of the kayak market. 

The main bugbear with the Explorer seems to be the storage bag. Getting the Explorer to fold down well enough to pack away easily and quickly is a rare treat for those coming back from the water. At 20kg, it’s not a light bag either to just sling over your shoulder. 

Lightweight, comfortable and offering good traction on the water, the Explorer is an excellent yak for those that like to go out on the lakes and rivers. Like the K2, the Explorer’s vinyl outer layer will struggle on the rougher ocean seas. Forget fishing too, unless you are happy to take the weight of your equipment throughout the day as you wait for the fish to bite!

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3. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Best for easy set-up

Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy for Single Person

What’s Good?
  • Quick & easy set-up: Be out on the water in 5 minutes!
  • Backpack style: The innovative easy-to-carry backpack system converts into a comfy seat
  • Rugged design: Built with a 24-gauge PVC construction
  • Durable & safe: Made to withstand punctures with the tarpaulin bottom and polyester cover
  • Inflation backup: Multiple air chambers to keep you safe on the water if you get a puncture
  • Airtight system: Keeps your yak leak-free
    Easy inflation/deflation: Double lock valves with two locking points
What’s Bad?
  • Not self-bailing: You will need to rely on the easy-drainage valves
  • Integrated skeg: Not as flexible as a removable one

Tracks well, stable, roomy and visible are all great features for an inflatable kayak. The Sevylor Quikpak K5 is precisely that. Perfect for the recreational kayaker as well as those who want to go fishing on the open ocean, the Quikpak K5 is a bargain for it’s asking price.

You can hit the water within 5 minutes with the easy set-up the Quikpak K5 offers. No messing around on the shore as you can convert the innovative backpack system into your kayak and seat. The Quikpak K5 is suitable for lakes, rivers and calm ocean waters.

You won’t be able to make an overnight fishing trip, but you will be able to carry enough gear in the helpful D-Ring and bungee storage areas.

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4. Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak

Easy for storage

MOOCY sun shade canopy

What’s Good?
  • Adaptable: Easily converts from a single to a two-seater person configuration
  • Comfortable: Study and made for comfort, the nylon covered bucket seats are fully adjustable
  • Directional: Move easily through the water with the directional strakes and skew
  • Storage: Heavy-duty D-ring tie-downs and elastic cargo cords to keep your gear securely onboard
  • Design: “V” shaped bottom to cut through the water
What’s Bad?
  • Zipped seats: Although comfy, the seats can quickly become unzipped

For an inflatable kayak, the Solstice by Swimline Durango is a worthy candidate for the ocean. It features a good build quality, and the heavy-duty nylon offers great protection from scrapes and rocky surfaces. With its “V” shaped bottom design and nose, the Solstice easily cuts through the water and provides a good level of traction.

The only drawback with the Solstice is the zipped seats. Although easy to assemble and get onto the water, the seats often begin to detach as you paddle. It’s worth bearing in mind, the Solstice is on the high-end price range.

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5. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Straightedge 2 Kayak

Best for tracking

MOOCY kayak boat canoe sun shade canopy for a single person

What’s Good?
  • Good tracking: The aluminium bow and stern frame improves tracking in open water
  • Design: Quality sit-on-top inflatable kayak
  • Durable & flexible: For bigger waves, you can configure to self-bailing or keep to close ports in calm or cold water
  • Extreme puncture resistance: Heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin material
  • Weight: Can hold up to 500lbs
  • Easy storage: Compact and durable storage bag – easy to transport
What’s Bad?
  • No skeg: For improved manoeuvrability in the water, you may need to invest in a skeg
  • Heavy to carry: You will definitely need a hand to carry the kayak on land
  • Better as a solo vessel: Tracking suffers from more than one person in the yak

Coming in at the $800 mark, you would expect the ADVANCED ELEMENTS Straightedge 2 Kayak to be all singing and all dancing. Well, for the most part, it’s a great kayak. The Straightedge 2 can take on slightly choppier conditions than your standard inflatable yak with its well-thought-out self-bailing feature and puncture-resistant tarpaulin.

If you plan on going tandem, the Straightedge 2 will struggle with the extra weight, and its leading tracking abilities begin to fail on the open water.

However, the Straightedge 2 is more like a canoe with all the advantages of a kayak. You will glide effortlessly through the water on the sit-on-top design. You won’t get hot or cramped either! Innovation shines with the Straightedge 2. You can comfortably paddle on the lakes, or take on the open ocean safe on your vessel.

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6. Solstice by Swimline Rogue Kayak

Best for stability

Walmeck kayak boat canoe sun shade canopy for a single person

What’s Good?
  • Adaptable: Easy to convert from a single to two-person seater kayak
  • Weight: Can carry up to 360lbs
  • Sturdy & stable: I-beam floor and 3 chamber construction for great performance and control on the water
  • Easy set-up: Quick to inflate and deflate, you will be on the water in minutes
  • Comfortable: Spacious cockpit and comfortable cockpit for longer hours on the water
What’s Bad?
  • Handling: Due to the lack of skeg and general shape of the Solstice, it doesn’t handle well on the water
  • Limited accessories: You will have to buy your own pump and oars

Quick to inflate once you’ve bought your own pump and friendly on the budget, the Solstice by Swimline Rogue is a good entryway kayak. It’s tracking and handling capabilities are to be desired.

Onboard storage is limited. So, you will struggle to pack your favourite fishing accessories, but you will be able to enjoy calm seas and flat-water lakes.

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FAQ’s about Ocean Kayaks

How much do ocean kayaks cost?

There are a wide range of kayaks to choose from, and they each have their own unique selling points. Each serves a different purpose, from fishing kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks to a canoe-hybrid kayak. You also need to consider if your expertise level!

For a quality inflatable kayak, you are looking at $100 – $850 as a ballpark. Hardshell kayaks are generally around $300+

What is the difference between an ocean kayak and a kayak for a lake?

If you have been a part of the kayaking world for a while, you will know that length, width and storage are all key features to consider. Generally, ocean kayaks tend to be longer than lake kayaks – but there is a lot of overlap!

Ocean kayaks can range from 12 – 24 feet long, whereas lake kayaks are usually somewhere between 8 and 14 feet.

When you are exploring a lake, you are more likely to encounter obstacles as opposed to the open ocean. So, you are going to need a higher level of manoeuvrability in your lake kayak to weave in and out of tight bends and take on shallow waterways.

Length is beneficial on the open ocean – performance is enhanced so you can get better speed and paddle further afield in comfort.

How To Kayak In The Ocean?

First off you will need a touring style kayak that can take on rougher conditions and handle well in the water. If you are going to venture out onto the open ocean, check out the weather forecast for the day and make sure conditions look good before setting off.

You are more exposed out on the ocean, so make sure you practice your paddling technique and movement in the water. Make sure you know how to respond to your kayak capsizing. The more you know beforehand, the more confident you’ll be on the water.

Keep a good, safe distance from bigger vessels in the water. They might not be able to see you!

Always be prepared – carry a lifejacket, whistle, map/GPS, food and water, as well as UV protection (sunscreen and a bimini/canopy.)

What Is The Right Size For A Kayak For Ocean Fishing?

To get the best catch, you need the right kayak for your needs. Typically, you are looking at a kayak between 12-24ft long for ocean fishing. Make sure your kayak has enough storage and room for you to set up your equipment on board. A lot of kayaks come with additional fishing rod holders.

How To Anchor A Kayak In The Ocean?

For this, you will need an anchor line and an anchor trolley ring/karabiner.

First off paddle your kayak to your desired position – either up-tide or up-wind. Once satisfied pass your anchor line through the anchor trolley ring or karabiner and clip onto your anchor or chain. Release when you are happy for your anchor to do its job.

Is It Dangerous To Kayak In The Ocean?

Putting safety at the forefront of an ocean adventure on your yak is of utmost importance. The ocean is ever-changing, and you can encounter any conditions from calm to stormy seas. Generally, kayaking is one of the safest water sports out there, but you should always consider changing weather patterns and rough seas.

Make sure you check out the weather forecast for the day before setting off. Also, bring along a life jacket, whistle, torch, GPS/map, food and water to keep you safe on the open water.

Are Sit-On-Top Kayaks Good For The Ocean?

As a general rule, anyone can use a sit-on-top kayak on the ocean. Completely sealed and easy to roll back over if you capsize, a sit-on-top kayak is ideal for the open seas. You can easily climb back in and carry on without worrying about your yak getting full of water. Also, they’re excellent for beginners.

What should you look for in an ocean kayak?

Rough, choppy seas can do a lot of damage to a poorly constructed yak. What’s more, your experience on the water can be the making or breaking of your confidence. So think about what you want from your boat first.

Do you want a kayak that you can explore the coastline with or paddle to offshore islands? Or are you looking for a fishing vessel?

Finding a kayak that can cut through the water, withstand corrosion and keep you safe is essential when buying a boat fit for the ocean. You should consider:

  • The length of your kayak, speed and manoeuvrability
  • Solo or tandem
  • The shape of the hull

Kayaking on the ocean water can have more challenging conditions than flat-water lakes and rivers. So make sure you check out your yak’s spec before buying.

Take note of the differences between ocean and lake appropriate kayaks. It can be as simple as the hull structure to the materials used in its construction. Having a safe, fun adventure on a lake is far different from being exposed on the open ocean.

Final Thoughts

Getting the right level of comfort, warmth, and good traction is all you need from your water shoe. Looking out for materials like neoprene and soles that deal well with impact is all part of the water shoe process.

You know your limits, and you know how your feet need protection on rough terrain.

Now you know what the 10 best water shoes for kayaking are, which pair will you choose?

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