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What is Calm Water Kayaking?

By L. Brooks
Updated May 23, 2024
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Calm water kayaking involves traveling in water that does not have rapids or waves. Kayaks are similar to canoes in shape, with narrow pointed ends and wider middle areas where passengers sit. Some kayaks are constructed so that the kayaker can sit on top of the kayak to paddle the craft. Other kayaks are cockpit style, where the kayaker sits inside on a seat on the bottom of the kayak. Additionally, in this style of kayak, the kayaker is surrounded by a spray skirt that provides a seal between the kayaker's torso and the kayak itself. While generally smaller than canoes, kayaks come in various sizes with room for one or more passengers. Kayakers also use paddles to propel them through the water, but unlike canoe paddles, kayak paddles generally have blades on both ends of the pole.

Kayaks are used in lakes, rivers, and the open ocean. Whitewater kayaking involves navigating through rapid water, rocks and other obstacles. Calm water kayaking, however, is generally a more relaxing endeavor. It can be done in the ocean; depending on the weather conditions and how close you remain to the shore. Calm water kayaking on lakes or large ponds is where beginning kayakers usually learn the various paddling strokes to become proficient in maneuvering their kayaks.

Calm water kayaking is a great way to enjoy the scenic beauty and observe the wildlife of an area. You can take camping-kayaking trips alone, with your family, or in guided tour groups. Very small children can enjoy calm water kayaking with their parents if the parents have been properly trained and have had sufficient experience with kayaking. Even when calm water kayaking, one should be sure that children are wearing properly fitting and correctly fastened lifevests or personal flotation devices. For safety purposes, everyone onboard such a water craft should always be wearing lifevests.

While paddling a kayak looks simple, it is best to take lessons if you are a beginner. The most common injury for kayakers is a dislocated shoulder due to improper positioning of the arms when paddling. It is better to learn the proper paddling techniques than to injure yourself and have to "unlearn" the wrong way of paddling. Kayaking can be a fun and relaxing way to build upper body strength as the correct forward stroke can be felt in the back, abdomen, and arms.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By FirstBase — On May 25, 2011

Some of my best photos were taken while canoeing and kayaking. Being so close to nature in a boat that barely makes a noise is perfect for capturing nature in the raw.

By rosequartz — On May 22, 2011

Kayaking and canoeing are perfect for spotting the shy manatee. Birding is also great from the seat of a kayak or canoe.

The only worry I've ever had is with alligators while on the Peace River in Florida. They are often as large or larger than the canoes we were paddling.

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