Ocean Kayaks

Ocean kayaks are considerably long and narrow kayaks that are designed to take on the waves and currents you’d experience in the ocean. These kayaks give paddlers the ability to launch right off the shore, and although they aren’t as stable as recreational kayaks, they’re easy to operate once you get the hang of them.

Kayaks designed for the ocean come in both a sit-on-top or sit-inside configuration, however, many paddlers prefer to opt for a sit-inside ocean kayak. The reason behind many paddlers preferring a sit-inside is because of the enclosed cockpit that protects the lower half of the body from water splashes which are inevitable when paddling amongst waves. 

Thanks to their long and narrow hull design, ocean kayaks track incredibly straight and can cover vast amounts of water in short periods of time. These kayaks also come in a tandem configuration for paddlers who want to explore together or for those who simply want to make their partner do all the hard work. 

If you’re looking at hitting the open ocean, then check out ____? And if you’re stumped on what to wear when kayaking, we also have a guide to kayaking clothing.

Anatomy of an Ocean Kayak

As mentioned before, ocean kayaks are long, narrow kayaks that have open or closed decks. These kayaks can come in a hardshell or an inflatable construction which both have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Ocean kayaks are designed to be fast with excellent tracking to make paddling a breeze and regardless of which type of ocean kayak you choose, there will always be a comfortable seat for long days out on the water. More often than not, the seat inside ocean kayaks will be adjustable to suit paddlers of different heights and sizes. 

Along with a seat, a sit-on-top kayak will also feature scupper holes to drain any water that makes its way onto the deck. And if you opt for an inflatable ocean kayak, then there will also be air valves that connect to multiple air chambers inside the kayak. Inflatable kayaks have multiple air chambers for the sole purpose of if one punctures, you’ll still have backups to get you back to shore.

Ocean kayaks will have what’s known as a displacement hull which pushes the water down the sides of the boat. These hulls are designed to slice through the water at fast speeds, making them ideal for ocean kayaks.

How to Choose an Ocean Kayak

Deciding on which ocean kayak to purchase can be a confusing task but if you’re ready to take the leap and invest in your next or current hobby, then keep these below features in mind. 


Ocean kayaks are available in a hardshell construction or an inflatable construction. 

Hardshell ocean kayaks are typically made from rotationally molded polyethylene, which is an incredibly sturdy material. The higher the density of the polyethylene, the stronger and more durable the kayak will be. This additional strength, however, does come with a slightly more expensive price tag. 

Inflatable ocean kayaks will be made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and similar to the hardshell construction, the higher the density of the PVC, the sturdier the kayak will be. 

The price of thicker PVC or polyethylene may initially put you off, but if you take proper care of your kayak with regular cleaning and maintenance, then it is well worth it in the long run. 


Every kayak has a maximum weight capacity, and it is crucial that you take this into consideration when purchasing. If you overload your kayak, it will cause the hull to sink slightly in the water, which in turn makes it difficult to paddle, maneuver, and handle your kayak. 

The best thing to do before you purchase an ocean kayak is to take note of your weight, the weight of an additional paddler if you’re purchasing a tandem kayak, and the weight of any gear or belongings you may be taking out with you. 

Once you have this figure, compare it to the weight limit of the ocean kayaks you’re interested in. Ideally, you want to be 25% under the limit to ensure that if you upgrade any gear or if you gain any weight, for example, your kayak will still accommodate it. 


As a rule regarding kayaks, the longer the kayak, the faster it will be on the water. Ocean kayaks are some of the longest kayak varieties meaning they can cover stretches of water far quicker than your regular recreational kayak.

Longer ocean kayaks, however, do compromise on stability, so if you’re new to paddling in the ocean, then an ocean kayak on the shorter end of the scale will be better suited to you. 


Ocean kayaks are not only long, but they’re also considerably narrow, which even further compromises on the kayak’s stability. Experienced paddlers will be able to handle kayaks with narrower hulls, but again, if you’re new to ocean kayaking, it may be better to purchase a kayak that is slightly wider.


Sit-on-top ocean kayaks will usually feature a molded-in bungee storage area at the front or back of the kayak. If you’re lucky, they may even include a dry hatch storage to prevent any important items from getting wet by wave splashes or if your kayak capsizes.

Sit-inside ocean kayaks, however, typically come with dry storage hatches and occasionally a bungee area or two. The storage of a sit-inside is usually fairly limited, but you can also stash some gear at your feet if needs be. 


Thanks to an ocean kayak's long and narrow hull design, they can usually track fairly straight on their own. But, if you want to improve the tracking and performance even further, you can always add on a rudder at any given time. Most kayaks come with a rudder, or at least the option to add one if you so wish.


Different kayaks come with different accessories, but it is important to remember that the more accessories a kayak comes with, the heavier and often more expensive it is going to be. Consider the things you’ll actually need paddling and then decide on whether a bare-bone model or a fully loaded ocean kayak would be right for you.


🏆 Are ocean kayaks stable?

When it comes to kayaks, the wider the hull, the more stable it will be. As ocean kayaks are extremely long and narrow boats, they, unfortunately, lack in stability. Beginner paddlers may find it extremely difficult to learn the ropes of kayaking in an ocean kayak, but if you’re willing to give it a go, then it is best to opt for an ocean kayak with the widest hull possible. 

👍 How would I transport an ocean kayak?

Ocean kayaks can be anywhere from 12 to 17 feet, and the type of car you have will ultimately decide how you'll transport your kayak. A full-sized car or a standard SUV will be able to transport an ocean kayak of 12’5” on a roof rack. Larger SUVs or small pick-up trucks can carry kayaks up to 14’ on a roof rack, and large pick-ups can transport kayaks up to 15’. 

If you have a small car or if you have a kayak over 15’, then you will need to purchase a kayak trailer that connects to the back of your vehicle. Kayak trailers do have the added benefit of it being it far easier to load and unload your kayak, as lifting a long and heavy kayak onto a roof rack can be extremely difficult. 

🏝️ Are sit-inside or sit-on-top ocean kayaks better?

The great debate of whether a sit-on-top or a sit-inside ocean kayak will all come down to personal preference. Sit-on-top ocean kayaks are easier to mount and dismount, and they also typically have more storage space for personal belongings and gear. 

Sit-inside ocean kayaks, however, tend to be faster because of their significantly lower center of gravity, and they also have the benefit of an enclosed cockpit to prevent water from splashing on the lower half of your body. Another huge benefit of a sit-inside is their dry hatch storage areas which keep your gear from getting wet, even if you capsize.