Is Sea Kayaking Difficult? (What You Need to Know & How to Get Started)

There are many types of sea kayaking; kayak sailing, surf kayaking, kayak fishing, and expedition trips. It’s nothing similar to river kayaking, except for the skill of keeping a good balance and, like any sport, basic fitness, and endurance. But is sea kayaking difficult if you’ve never done it before?

Is Sea Kayaking Difficult?

The short answer is, no, it’s not. Sea Kayaking needs some basic skills to start your adventure. This is why beginner kayakers need to learn these skills before heading out to the ocean.

.If you’ve been considering the sport, you’ll want to keep reading. We will answer all your questions regarding it and some tips on the best way to get started. 

What You Need to Know About Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking isn’t hard, and only a few basic skills are needed to get you started. The experience depends on wind and waves’ speed and direction, the strength of the tides and currents, and air and water temperature.

Basic Skills

Practice gets you comfortable in your sea kayaking adventure. Take your time to learn the basic knowledge and skills required for this sport. 

Get in and Get Out

Getting in and out of the kayak is an essential basic skill to learn. It’s not easy at the beginning. But with time and practice, you’ll get more experience, and it would be an easy step for you. 

  1. Position the kayak vertically on the beach or deck. So that the front is in the water and the back is on the sand. If the whole kayak is on the sand, you’ll be beached and won’t be able to launch. 
  2. Put one leg on each side of the kayak and sit behind the cockpit. 
  3. Place each leg in the cockpit one at a time. 
  4. When they’re both in, slide forward smoothly in the pit.


There are two types of stabilities when kayaking. 

  • Primary stability, which is how steady the kayak is on flat water. 
  • Secondary stability is the ability of a kayak to be stable when it’s rocked from side to side. 

To keep the kayak stable, you should be fitted correctly in the cockpit and straighten your upper body. 


Learning a simple steering technique will help to direct, turn or control a kayak. Put your paddle in the water behind you but still parallel to the kayak. 

If you want to turn left, paddle on the right side of the kayak. If you want to turn right, paddle to the left. Find your direction and paddle on its opposite side. 

Moving Forward

This is the most basic skill of kayaking. Moving forward, backward, or even stopping the kayak is based on the same strokes.

  1. Reach your paddle forward towards your toes. 
  2. Dip the blade in the water. 
  3. Using your back, push the kayak forward and pull the paddle’s blade straight back.
  4. Keep the blade parallel to the boat. 
  5. When the blade reaches near your hip, pull it out and repeat the same steps on the other side. 

To move backward, use the same steps but in reverse.


You have to know how to deal with any situation that can happen in open water. Checking the local weather is the first thing you should do at the outset of any sea kayaking trip. 

Tides and Currents

These invisible forces have a significant impact on kayaking. For example, currents change directions because of tides or wind and air pressure shifting. 

Currents can carry you away from your route or slow you down, so be aware of the tidal current on your route. Paddling against the currents can be an excellent workout for your upper body, but it can also leave you exhausted and unable to complete your journey.

Wind and Waves

Wind doesn’t behave as you would expect. More wing means more waves and will affect your kayaking, like tides and currents.

Some people consider paddling with a headwind the safer way. This way, you can see the waves coming ahead. Nevertheless, it’s still physically exhausting and sometimes not even worth it.

On the other hand, paddling tailwinds is a great experience if the waves are small. You could surf the waves, which will boost speed and progress on your route.

With wind, always taking the safest way. Check the weather forecast before you get going. Wind creates strong waves and pulls you back or stops you on your route. Avoid sea kayaking if the average wind speeds range anywhere near 8 to 10 MP/H.


When sea kayaking, water temperature matters more than the air temperature. Air temperature can be very high, and the water temperature still won’t be safe to go kayaking. This is because water temperature usually falls behind this change in temperature. 

You should be very cautious if the water temperature is anywhere near 70F. If water temperature is below 60F, it can lead to hypothermia and is considered life-threatening.

On a sunny warm day, kayaking with shorts and a light shirt seems like an enjoyable idea. But the weather changes quickly. That’s why you should always wear layers. 

First is the insulation, which is an underlayer of stretchy and synthetic or fleece clothes. These materials dry quickly and can warm your body even if it gets wet. Or invest in a dry suit. 

Add layers of any light and waterproof clothes, as long as you stay comfortable and can freely move.

Top that with a water shoe, PFD(Personal Flotation Device), a hat, sunscreen, and polarized sunglasses.


Sharks aren’t common, and sightings are publicly reported. For extra safety and worry-free sea kayaking, research the area you’re kayaking, and make sure there were no sightings. And don’t kayak into large groups of fish or seals.

If you happen to encounter a shark, don’t try to paddle away. This will attract the shark’s attention. And if the shark attempts an attack, hit it on the snout with the paddle. The hit might scare it away or avert it for a while.


Paddling and drinking don’t work together. Sea kayaking needs your full and instant attention. You need to have quick responses, full balance, and awareness, which messes with your coordination. 

Sea kayaking, while you’re intoxicated, can cause your kayak to turnover or you to drown.

How to Get Started with Sea Kayaking

Starting sea kayaking is mainly about expanding your basic kayaking knowledge. It’s taking your next step in the kayaking world. Prepare yourself to have unforgettable experiences.  


Sea kayaking gear is essential to enjoy your paddling. Your rule of thumb is the gear that will help you stay dry and safe.

  • Kayak
  • A paddle
  • Water bottle 
  • Dry Bags 
  • Change of clothes 
  • Bilge pump
  • A whistle
  • PFD(Life Jacket)


Enhance your kayaking techniques professionally. Learn from a professional kayaker or certified instructor before you start paddling. Many places offer just simple lessons, and other advanced ones have internationally recognized certifications like the ACA.


Plan a simple trip in calm waters. Start by the shore, where there are some waves but not strong ones. This way, if you turn over. You can quickly get back to your kayak or swim back to the beach. 

Expand Your Experience

Go to different shores, try different coasts. The sea is never the same anyway. One day the wind and waves will be calm. Another, they might be challenging. So increase your distance one day after another. 

Paddle With a Group

Don’t kayak solo. Sea kayaking is always better and more exciting with a group. It’s safer to kayak with a professional sea kayaker in the group. 

Final Word

Sea kayaking is an extensive sport for a kayaking beginner. It needs proper learning and essential precautions to get you started. Explore the area, research the weather, and plan the journey. 

Be safe so that you can enjoy a fun, comfortable, and enjoyable paddling experience in the open water.

Related Articles