Imagine going out onto the open ocean for a kayaking adventure. What kind of kayak should you use? For this purpose, you should invest in a saltwater kayak. These types of kayaks are designed to perform well in the ocean or sea. They are designed for going on long touring trips in the flatwater sea or fishing in the ocean.
It’s important to remember to select a kayak based on the conditions that you will encounter. Often the ocean is more wavy and choppy than a smaller sea. We recommend checking out this review when planning to purchase a top-notch ocean or sea kayak that is currently on the market.
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Ocean vs. Sea Kayaking: What is the Difference?
When people think of the terms ocean and sea, I imagine they would think of them as being similar or the same. This is somewhat true. For example, both the ocean and the sea are saltwater environments.
There are some differences, though. The ocean is generally associated with wavy open waters. They are much larger than a sea, and they are not surrounded by land for vast distances. A sea is much smaller and calmer due to the land that surrounds it nearby. We are reviewing both types of kayaks within this review since they can be used in both environments.
Types of Sea/Ocean Kayaks
The Benefits of Saltwater Kayaks
There are many advantages to choosing an ocean kayak. The hull is designed to handle the harshness of ocean water. We do recommend rinsing them off after use. Saltwater kayaks are also designed with the sea in mind. They feature longer bows and sterns, to cut through waves and choppy waters.
They also feature space to attach a spray skirt to deter the ocean spray from entering the hull. These models are incredibly stable to help balance out the waves.
Choosing Top Quality Sea/Ocean Kayaks
You need to determine where you will be using your kayak. It is important to keep in mind that there are many different types of seas and oceans. If you are using it in choppy waters with a lot of strong currents, you need to have a stable model. You also need to be sure that it has extra tracking capabilities to help with waves.
You need to be aware of how much weight your kayak can hold. All models will specify the maximum recommended weight. You should take this into account when you go into the open ocean. Your weight plus the weight of any gear that you want to bring along will determine how low the kayak will sit in the water.
Most kayaks are made to be long-lasting, but some are more suitable for certain conditions than others. For example, if you are going to be kayaking into open, rough waters, then you may not want to opt for an inflatable kayak. If you plan to be mostly on flat water, then a small or inflatable kayak might work for you.
Transport and Storage Space
Most ocean kayaks are designed with smaller cockpits. It enables them to be stable, fast, and quickly chop through waves. If you need a lot of storage space for gear, then you may want to look into sea kayaks that allow for this. You also need to consider transport. Lightweight, small kayaks are easy to carry and place in your car.
Keeping your kayak in line is critical when on the open waters. Maintaining tracking under windy or wavy conditions with just your paddling can be difficult. Using your kayak with a skeg or rudder can be useful. It allows you to control the traction with more than your paddle. You can also usually pull them out of the water if need be.
This term refers to the way that the base of the kayak meets the sides. It can be rounded or sharper. A soft chine kayak will be better for speed, but a hard chine will cut through the water quicker, allowing for more traction. You should determine the hull shape you want, based on the conditions you will be in.
You always want to be comfortable when you are using your kayak, especially for long trips. There are a few different seat types for sea kayaks. The large rocker seat will position you up out of the water. These are great for wavy conditions. A smaller seat will sit you more rooted in the kayak for more stability.
Stability and Speed
These two factors are determined by the shape of the hull and the width of the kayak. If a kayak is wider, it will be more stable and slower. If a kayak is thinner, it will be faster and less stable. The shape of the hull will also determine the speed. A soft chine will be faster, and a hard chine slightly slower.
Accessories and Add Ons
You can add many different items to make your sea kayak more suitable for you. If you plan to fish, you can add rod holders or fish finders. Touring kayaks can have a better seat installed for long distances. You can also add a spray skirt to deter the ocean waves from entering the hull.
Budget and Warranty
Most standard ocean kayaks come with a warranty in case anything breaks within the first year or so. Be sure that you read the warranty information before purchasing. Also, the budget that you are working within is important. Everyone has a budget, whether it is small or large. You can easily find a decent ocean kayak within your budget.
7 Best Sea/Ocean Kayaks Reviewed
1. Pakayak Bluefin
Best Sea Kayak
Max Load Capacity
Yes, 30 Days
This model is one of a kind in its class. It is not only voted the best sea kayak in our buyer’s guide, but it is also able to break down for carrying. It can break down into six pieces that nest into each other. It comes with a carrying bag that is easily able to fit in your trunk. It can be easily assembled in three minutes with the clamping system.
It features a leak-proof design with a double chined hull. It is perfect for sharp turns, surfing, and control. It claims to be modeled after the bluefin tuna, which is one of the fastest fish in the ocean. It is tremendously fast and also has excellent traction. It also features two watertight storage compartments.
Many customers thought that this kayak was superb in ocean waters. Users enjoyed the extreme portability and ease of assembly. You can easily assemble it by yourself in just a few minutes. Users also loved the leak-proof design. According to Pakayak’s website, this kayak is truly unique in its class, and all customers agreed. You can also easily carry it with the rolling bag system that is included. You don’t have to carry it on your back.
2. Vibe Sea Ghost 130
Best Ocean Fishing Kayak
Max Load Capacity
Single piece polyethylene
Yes, limited lifetime
This kayak was made for open water fishing. It is ideal for people looking to head out on the ocean or sea and catch a few fish. It is a one-person, sit on top design. It offers the best of both worlds with speed and stability. It comes with two rod holders so that you can remain hands-free.
It also features four integrated rigging tracks for customization. The best feature here is the integrated rudder that allows you to control the kayak with your feet. It will help you keep traction in windy conditions. It also comes with multiple storage options. It has a large center console, an open space in the back, and a watertight compartment in the front.
Most customers loved that this kayak offered them everything they could need in a sea fishing kayak. They enjoyed the stability and speed. Vibe Kayaks is touted as one of the best adventure kayaks on the market. If you plan to fish, this is the best option. It excels on open water. Customers loved the built-in rudder system, so you don’t have to buy and install one. It comes ready to use, which is great for open ocean windy days.
Also make sure to check out our complete guide to the best fishing kayaks for anglers.
3. Sea Eagle 370 Pro
Best Tandem Sea Kayak
Max Load Capacity
Yes, 3 years
This model is one of the top tandem inflatable kayaks on the market. It is capable of fitting up to three people if you adjust the seats. It is a lightweight option for those who are thinking of traveling. It comes with two paddles, a carrying bag, and a foot pump. It features two skegs on the bottom to assist with traction and speed.
It also features a PolyKrylar hull that can withstand even the harshest bumps and scrapes. It is easy to inflate and deflate. It also has an I-beam design with multiple air chambers for stability. This kayak can also be used in whitewater up to level three.
Customers enjoyed that it was easy to inflate, comfortable, and durable. We loved that this kayak is such a bargain. You can’t beat the price point and value of this model. It allows for quick inflation and perfect usability. Customers enjoyed that it could be inflated in just a few minutes. They also liked that the multiple air chambers provide peace of mind. If something happens to one chamber, there are still multiple others to keep you afloat.
More of the top tandem kayaks on the market can be found here.
4. Advanced Elements AE1007-R
Best Inflatable Kayak For Ocean
Max Load Capacity
Yes, 3 years
Inflatable kayaks are the perfect portable option today. This model comes with built-in aluminum ribbing that helps with stability. It comes with puncture-resistant material for any condition, including the open ocean. You can even take your dog for a trip with you. There are multiple seating arrangements, so you can paddle solo or with a friend.
It folds up into a small carrying case so that you can take it anywhere. This convertible model also has bungees for storing items while paddling. It also comes with paddle holders so that you can be hands-free.
Many customers loved the stability of this ocean kayak on the water. They also enjoyed the portability. One of the best features of this model is the sturdy bow and stern. Customers loved that it was designed with a rib structure that allows for the bow to cut through waves with ease. It performed well when it came to tracking, which makes your paddling much more manageable.
5. Lifetime Lotus
Best Lightweight Ocean Kayak
Max Load Capacity
Yes, 5 year limited
Everyone prefers lightweight options when they have to carry something in and out of the water. The Lotus kayak offers the perfect light option. It comes with an adjustable, quick releasing seat back that will be comfortable for everyone. It also has multiple footrest positions so that anyone can fit in this kayak comfortably.
It also comes with a paddle, so there is everything that you need to get started. It has tank storage with bungees to hold all of your gear. It also boasts multiple carrying handles on the front and side. It comes with a paddle so that you can get out on the water almost right away. It is ideal for people looking for a ready to go model.
Most customers enjoyed how lightweight and easy to carry this kayak is. This is the lightest kayak we have reviewed in this round-up. Customers loved that it was so easy to carry. At only 38 lbs, you can easily walk to any launch area. Every customer agreed that it was easier to carry because of the handles. It is 8 feet in length, so fitting it into a car or SUV was simple.
For more kayak options from Lifetime, check out this article.
6. Ocean Malibu
Best Entry Level Sea Kayak
Max Load Capacity
Yes, lifetime on hull
This model is perfect for taking out to the seas with a friend or solo. It has two seats that can be adjusted to fit up to three people. It comes with two Comfort Plus seats for maximum relaxation on long tours. They feature four-way adjustability. This model also comes with multiple footrests, so a person of any height can sit comfortably.
It comes in a sit on top design, which makes it easy for you to get in and out of the kayak which is perfect for beginners. It boasts molded-in handles for carrying as well as a skid plate.
Customers liked the overall complete package that this kayak offered. It is the best entry level kayak that we have reviewed. It is easy to paddle, but large enough for two people to enjoy the ocean waters. It provided customers with a moderate length, but still lightweight design. I enjoyed that it was easy to drag to the nearest launch point, because of the built-in skid plates. The limited lifetime warranty was also a bonus since this kayak was designed for new users.
7. SUNDOLPHIN Aruba
Best Ocean Kayak
Max Load Capacity
UV-stabilized FortiFlex polyethylene
Yes, limited lifetime
Sit in kayaks are generally better suited for ocean waters, as can be seen in many Sun Dolphin kayaks. They provide more stability in windy conditions, which the Sun Dolphin Aruba model accomplishes with ease. It is a lightweight option at only 40 lbs. Almost any user can carry it. It also has multiple carrying handles that allow for transport to the water.
It also features a large open cockpit that allows you to sit while maintaining ultimate control comfortably. The Aruba also has adjustable foot braces to enable people of any height to fit their legs in the hull. This model also has a large storage compartment with bungee rigging. The included protective thigh braces are also excellent for choppy waters. It also comes with a UV-stabilized FortiFlex hull design for the longest-lasting design.
Customers enjoyed that this kayak tracked well in open water. The sit in design allowed for maximum control, so I couldn’t agree more. It made the kayak feel like an extension of your body, so it was easy to glide through waves. Customers loved the lightweight design, which made it easy to navigate.
Single vs. Tandem Sea Kayak
Kayaking can be done by yourself or with a friend. A single kayak is designed for one person to sit comfortably. On the other hand, a tandem kayak is made for two or more people. The main advantage of a single ocean kayak is that it offers more control. These kayaks are usually smaller, and the user sits more centrally.
A tandem kayak is longer and has more open space to allow for dual seats. This makes them slightly less stable in open seawater. We recommend a single kayak for windy, rough seas. Tandem kayaks are still great for the open ocean but on a calm day to enjoy with a friend or family member.
Using a Saltwater Kayak
If you are new to kayaking, there are a few simple tips that you may be curious about. The first thing you should do before going out is to check your kayak. Make sure that there is no hull damage or issues with the seating. Also, check your paddle for any damage since this will propel you through the water.
When you take it to a launch area, drag the kayak to the shallow area. Don’t worry about getting your feet wet! First, secure your paddle, then place one leg into the cockpit. Slowly lower yourself into position, and gently sit on the seat. Remember to always wear a life vest!
Anchoring a Kayak in the Ocean
When fishing from your kayak, you may want to put down an anchor to keep you in place. You may also want to kayak out and get some sun. Anchoring is a great way to do both of these things.
The first tip in anchoring is to ensure that you have enough line. You should ensure that you have 7 feet of anchor line for every 1-foot depth of water. Also, ensure that you tie a buoy to the opposite end in case you have to drop the anchor.
Toss the anchor away from your boat and pull it tight. Attach the rope to the bow or stern, and you're all set.
Ocean Kayaking Safety Tips
One factor that we cannot stress enough is to always wear a life vest when going into open water. Before heading out, check your life vest, kayak, and paddle for any damage. If you encounter any big waves, remember to remain calm and keep your head up. You should paddle with the wave, alternating between left and right sides. It will allow you to remain stable to avoid tipping.
Care and Maintenance: Taking Care of Your Sea Kayak
Ocean kayaks are made to be durable and low-maintenance. You should always rinse off your kayak after taking it out in the ocean. The saltwater could eventually become abrasive to the hull. You should always drain it to prevent damage. If you want to clean it, use a mild soap and brush. You can also use a vinyl protectant to help prevent sun damage.
Be careful during transport not to damage the kayak. We recommend, if possible, to use a kayak roof rack or trailer. If you plan to carry it in your car, place towels around the hull.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are ocean kayaks dangerous? Can you take any kayak in the ocean?
Like all water sports, kayaking can be dangerous if not done correctly. We strongly recommend a sea or ocean kayak for saltwater. This will allow you to get the best experience when it comes to open water kayaking. We also advise you to follow the safety guidelines above before going out.
Do kayaks tip easily in ocean surf?
They can tip easily if they are not stable, especially if you are standing, but most ocean kayaks are built for the surf.
How much does a typical sea kayak cost?
They range from $300 to $2,000. Find your desired budget and stick to it. The range is quite large because there are so many different models on the market. If you want a lightweight or inflatable kayak, you can buy a less expensive one with fewer features. If you want a larger and more customizable kayak, then you will have to spend more. The top brands will also be of higher quality, which is more expensive.
What are the main disadvantages of owning a sea kayak?
Typically, owning a sea kayak does not have a lot of disadvantages. They are made for the ocean, but can often be used in freshwater as well.
Are there warranties included with my kayak? What is included?
All of the products we have reviewed have some form of warranty. Most warranties do not cover general wear and tear, but they do include repairing significant hull damage.
What kind of issues will I encounter with a sea kayak?
Most sea kayaks are low maintenance and durable. If you encounter any issues, most of them are easily remedied with proper care. If you encounter any problems with your hull, you may be able to invoke the warranty that comes with your kayak. You can also slightly heat up the damaged area, and that should allow the dent to ‘pop' out.
What are the things I need to keep in mind when kayak fishing in the ocean?
You should remember to anchor your kayak for maximum stability. Also, distribute your gear evenly to maintain the weight, so you don’t tip. We also recommend always wearing a life vest. You can also bring a few extra accessories like a safety whistle, flashlight, or flare gun. It is possible to also invest in some training sessions.
What are the best ocean kayak brands?
Many of the top brands include Vibe Kayaks, Lifetime, and Pakayak. These kayaks are the top quality brands made out of the best materials. They have become so popular because they provide the best products and customer service.
In this article, we have reviewed and compared the best ocean and sea kayaks on the market. Depending on your needs and budget, this buyer’s guide will help you find the perfect kayak for you.
In this roundup, we have covered many different categories. We highly recommend the Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Kayak. It is the best option for going out into the open waters It has the perfect bow design to chop through waves. It also comes apart into six pieces, so you can easily transport it.
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