Looking for the best beginner kayak? Consider a few pointers before selecting your beginner kayak. Consider who is going to use the kayak and where do you plan to take your kayak. This will help to find what the best kayak for beginners will be. A good beginner kayak should be stable, fit the kayaker, and be easy to use. One of the best starter kayaks happens to be in a category called sit on top kayaks. This is mainly because they are easy to get in and out of. Some sit inside kayaks can also be great. we have reviewed loads of beginner kayaks and have come up with our top 10 best kayaks for beginners.

If the kayak will be purchased for a child, several are specially designed for young paddlers. These boats tend to be lighter and easier to handle than those designed for adults, but they accommodate less weight than a standard kayak.

If you are new to kayaking and in the market for an inexpensive yak to learn how to maneuver in the water, you may want to consider an inflatable. Inflatable kayaks are less expensive than their hard shelled counterparts, and they are an excellent option for the economy-minded explorer.

If your heart is set on a hard shelled model, you will need to decide between a sit-on-top or a sit-inside body. Both can be great for beginners. Your decision is based entirely on your preference and comfort level.

Would you prefer to sit inside a cockpit with the body of the boat surrounding you? Or would you rather sit on top of the structure with unrestricted freedom?

To assist you in making your decision, we’ve compiled this list of the 10 best kayaks for beginners.

Best Beginner Kayaks


Lifetime Wave Youth

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Coleman Quikpak K1

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Intex Challenger K1

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Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron

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Ocean Kayak Frenzy

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Emotion Glide

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Emotion Spitfire

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Coleman Colorado

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KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS

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Sun Dolphin Aruba

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1. Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak

Best Beginner Kayak Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak

First Place Best Beginner Kayak

The Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak is consistently Amazon’s most highly rated model of the beginner kayaks designed for children. The sit-on-top Wave is six ft. in length and the boat weighs a mere 20 pounds.

Recommended for children from ages 5 to 11, this kayak will accommodate up to 140 pounds. Select from three vibrant colors: Blue, Yellow or Pink. The Wave ships with its own paddle, so when the boat arrives, your young navigator can hit the water right away.

>> Get a great deal on Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak here <<

2. Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

Best Beginner Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
The Coleman Quikpak K1 sit-on-top inflatable is designed for one person, but can also accommodate a lot of gear. The watercraft can hold up to 400 pounds!

The Coleman Quikpak K1 can be stored and carried in the backpack, which is shipped with the boat. If you intend to take your yak with you on your hike or bike trip, the K1 weighs less than 20 pounds.

When inflated, the watercraft measures 8 ft. 7 in. long. This highly rated bestseller is an excellent choice for the adult beginner.

>> Get a great deal on Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak here <<

3. Intex Challenger K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Best Beginner Kayak Intex Challenger K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set
The Intex Challenger K1 is another popular, affordable inflatable that is a great beginner’s vessel for kids and adults. The top rated Challenger K1 is a sit-inside model that ships with everything you need!

Along with the watercraft, you get a high output air pump, an 84 in. double-paddle aluminum oar and cargo netting to keep your gear in place. The low profile design provides the beginner with excellent tracking and control.

The craft is 9 ft. long when inflated, and can accommodate up to 220 pounds. The Challenger K1 is a favorite of customers, consistently showing up as a Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon.

The Intex Challenger K2 model is similar, but designed for two paddlers instead of one.

>> Get a great deal on Intex Challenger K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump here <<

4. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak

Best Beginner Kayak Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak
The Old Town Canoes and Kayaks Heron Junior will keep your junior kayaker paddling for years to come. This stylish hard-shelled, sit-inside craft is available in Cloud (shades of blue) and Sunrise (shades of reds and yellows).

At 26 pounds, the boat is light enough for the beginner to carry from a transporting vehicle to the water without a great deal of effort. The Heron Junior is equipped with an internal foam billet so if the boat tips over while offshore, it will not sink.

This yak is designed for smaller paddlers with a weight limit of 115 pounds.

>> Get a great deal on Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak here <<

5. Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Best Beginner Kayak Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a hard-shelled sit-on-top and is consistently rated as a Best Beginner Kayak on Amazon.

Though this yak is considered to be a sit-on-top, the proprietary tri-form design provides a small cockpit for the paddler; the boat is more like a cross between a sit-inside and a sit-on-top.

The tri-form hull design ensures excellent tracking and stability. This craft is 9 ft. in length and weighs 43 pounds. Removable bungees keep cargo in place in both the hull and stern storage compartments.

Maximum weight capacity for the Frenzy is 325 pounds.

>> Get a great deal on Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak here <<

6. Emotion Glide Sport Kayaks

Best Beginner Kayak Emotion Glide Sport Kayaks
The Emotion Glide Sport is a hard-shelled sit-inside solo yak, and yet another great choice for the novice.

The seatback adjusts for comfort and folds completely down for storage. The molded foot rests help to keep the paddler comfortable while navigating.

The boat measures 9 ft. 7 in. in length, weighs just 46 pounds and reportedly tracks well for a craft of its size. The Glide Sport is available in bright Lime Green and vibrant Blue.

>> Get a great deal on Emotion Glide Sport Kayaks here <<

7. Emotion Spitfire Sit on Top Kayak

Best Beginner Kayak Emotion Spitfire Sit on Top Kayak
The Emotion Spitfire is considered by many to be the best kayak for beginners, always among the top five yaks listed in Amazon’s Top Rated list.

The Spitfire is a hard shell, sit-on-top craft with a removable padded seat back. The ST Performance hull design ensures stability and maneuverability, even when steered by the smallest kayaker.

The 8 ft. long Spitfire is designed for one paddler, and can accommodate up to 245 pounds. This craft is available in Red and Green.

>> Get a great deal on Emotion Spitfire Sit on Top Kayak here <<

8. Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

Best Beginner Kayak Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Anglers love the Coleman Colorado two person fishing kayak. This inflatable consistently appears on Amazon’s Top Rated and Bestsellers lists as the best kayak for beginners.

Though designed for two people, one can easily handle this yak on a solo trip. The boat is constructed in several sections which inflate independently of one another. If one section is punctured, the boat will not sink.

You have peace of mind knowing that you can get back to shore should the unexpected happen. However, with the 1000D tarpaulin bottom, the Colorado is practically impossible to puncture during excursions.

Reviewers note that this yak can maneuver through rivers and creeks, over rocks and rough vegetation, without any damage. A Sevylor trolling motor can be mounted on the boat. Additional features include rod holders and paddle mounts.

>> Get a great deal on Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak here <<

9. KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS

Best Beginner Kayak KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS
If you are considering a hard-shell fishing kayak for a beginner, the Sun Dolphin Journey SS is a favorite of customers.

This boat is a sit-inside model, but the cockpit is open and roomy so it feels more like a sit-on-top. Foot braces adjust for the paddler’s comfort, and flush mount rod holders keep the rods in the action and the paddler’s hands free.

A swivel rod holder is also mounted on the body of the craft. A portable accessory carrier is included with the kit, which can be used as a backpack or tow-behind storage on the water. The Journey SS can accommodate up to 250 pounds.

>> Get a great deal on KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS here <<

10. Sun Dolphin Aruba

Best Beginner Kayak Sun Dolphin Aruba
The highly rated Sun Dolphin Aruba is a 10 ft. hard-shell sit-inside kayak. This all-around craft is excellent for learning to navigate rivers, streams, lakes and ocean surf.

The Aruba is another beginner’s kayak that is always listed as one of the top five entries of the Amazon Bestsellers list. Available in Blue or Red, the Aruba is a stellar starter yak for a novice adult.

The 10 ft. length may be a bit too long for a small child to control. Weight capacity is 400 pounds, with plenty of storage to haul your gear.

Get a great deal on Sun Dolphin Aruba here <<


Other Useful Gear

Unfortunately a kayak is not the only thing you need to get into the sport of kayaking. The great news is, it is the type of gear that will last you for years! You will not regret making the investment now because it will bring many memories of being out on the water.


Simply having a kayak with no paddle won’t get you very far. There is a vast array of kayak paddles made from different materials that will affect the cost significantly. Typically the heavier the paddle (like one made from aluminum) will be less expensive but because it is heavier you will get tired quicker. There are paddles made from carbon that make the paddle light and surprisingly durable. Although they are more expensive, they will last you longer than the cheaper paddles–especially if you have to push off hard surfaces like rocks. Check out our paddles page if you still have more questions, here. For those of you on a budget, we have also discussed the 10 best paddles under $50!

Life Jacket

Not having a life jacket will get you into trouble. It is the law to be wearing a life jacket or have one with you, for good reason. Accidents are never planned and you will be happy you are wearing a life jacket if you end up in the water. Infants and kids need life vests too, it won’t work to just be holding them. One person equals one life jacket. Fortunately, they make PFDs specifically for infants and children of various ages and weights. If you plan on bringing “man’s best friend” on your kayaking endeavors, make sure you check out dog life vests too.


The more you go kayaking the more you’ll learn what you need to bring with you and what other accessories you would enjoy having along. From a more comfortable seat to filtration water bottle to dry bags and more the gear list never ends. There is no need to get every product straight away but you will find the more you go paddling the more you will accumulate useful items.

Water Shoes

Depending on where you are kayaking, water shoes might not be a necessity but they are always a product we highly recommend. Sometimes you don’t know what is under the surface of the water so having proper water shoes are a safety thing. They are made to have good traction on slippery surfaces and ideally to be comfortable when wet. There are options for the whole family–men, women, and children styles!

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