Recreational kayaks are designed for casual use such as paddling on protected waters, calm lakes and lazy flatwater streams.
Performance kayaks, on the other hand, are designed more for the serious kayaker, and these boats can run into several thousands of dollars.
However, if you are a weekend yakker and you’re looking for a boat for some occasional fun out on the water, a recreational kayak will probably fill the bill.
Depending on your budget, you can spend under $100 for an inflatable model, or over $1000 for a well designed, well made recreational hard shell.
Based on recreational kayak reviews on Amazon, we have created this list of the 10 best recreational kayaks as rated by consumers who purchased them.
1. Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak
The Manta is a hard side sit-on-top recreational yak that can support up to 425 pounds of passenger and cargo weight. With three seating wells, the Manta can accommodate two adults and a pet or small child, but one person can maneuver the boat without difficulty.
The Manta is 12 ft. in length and weighs a stable 57 pounds. The Lifetime Manta Tandem kit ships complete with two paddles and backrests.
2. Old Town Canoes and Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
The Old Town Vapor 10 is the ideal kayak for cruising slow moving rivers and glassy lakes. Consistently rated 5 out of 5 stars by customers who have purchased this model, the Vapor 10 seems to always make an appearance on Amazon’s Top lists.
The sit-inside Vapor 10 is 10 ft. in length and is designed for the solo paddler. Great for a beginner, the Vapor is lightweight and tracks well. Store day use items the stern day well for easy access.
The cushioned seat and seatback, combined with padded thigh pads and glide track foot braces, keep the paddler comfortable for the entire day out on the water.
3. Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package
A high output air pump, repair kit and 2 2-paddle aluminum oars are included with the boat. Bring the family because this craft can handle up to three people and a total weight of 650 pounds!
The boat measures 12 feet in length when inflated, but only weighs 32 pounds. The Sea Eagle SE370K inflates and assembles in less than eight minutes.
4. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Ft. Sit-In Kayak
The 10 ft. hard side sit-inside Aruba has a spray deflector collar, adjustable foot braces and lots of storage. This model is designed for one person, and can comfortably hold up to 250 pounds.
The lightweight Aruba weighs in at an easy-to-carry 40 pounds and is available in either blue or red. The Aruba is a great choice for the budget-minded yakker searching for an all-around multi-use recreational craft.
5. Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a hard side craft designed for two paddlers and a child, but one person can handle this boat just as well. Of all recreational kayaks for sale, the Malibu Two is probably the most popular of all sit-on-top tandem models.
The 12 ft. Malibu Two accommodates up to 425 pounds so grab your partner and pile on the gear. This boat can handle it. The dog can even come along for a day of fun on the water.
6. Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
The Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame Inflatable sports a unique design; part inflatable and part folding frame hard shell. The built-in aluminum bars frame the stern and bow to enhance tracking and control.
The 10 ft. inflatable body is constructed of three layers of puncture resistant material, and the craft can accommodate up to 300 pounds. With the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame, you get the portability of an inflatable with the stability, control and tracking of a hard side.
7. Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a compact little sit-on-top for one person. This solid little craft may be only 9 ft. in length, but it can hold up to 325 pounds. That’s a lot of cargo you can haul along for your excursion.
The Frenzy is short enough to haul in the back of a pickup truck or on the top of a car.
8. Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak
The Sport Fisher can be used as a single or tandem, but three people can ride on the craft at once. Elevated seating keeps paddlers and passengers dry for the duration of the trip.
Anglers love the Lifetime Sport Fisher because of the tunnel hull design, which keeps the boat balanced while you stand and fish or sit sidesaddle to wrangle in your catch.
The Sport Fisher kit includes two sport paddles and shock cords to secure the cargo compartment.
9. Oru Bay Kayak
This bay kayak looks more like a high performance model, but it is a great recreational craft, too, especially for apartment dwellers and others who may be short on storage space.
The Oru folds into its own carrying and storage case. The sleek solo Oru can accommodate up to 300 pounds.
10. Emotion Envy Kayak
The Envy is designed with a concave hull to keep the rider dry and comfortable. The Solace compartment provides plenty of under-deck cargo storage for everything you need for your ride.
Agile, yet stable, the Envy is the perfect choice for the novice or the experienced navigator. This boat tracks well and controls like kayaks twice the price.