A unique blend of surfboards and white-water kayaks, surf kayaks are special surfboards/kayaks designed to surf the ocean waves but in the sitting position of a conventional kayak. Surf kayaking with its sitting posture and paddling option offers much better control compared to surfboarding. You can easily control the direction of movement. Besides, due to its lower centre of gravity, the surf kayaks have a better balance. These unique features of surf kayaks allow the kayakers to maneuver the direction of their boat when they face the waves and hence can remain in the long waves for a much longer time. They can even catch the big waves due to their better balance and stability.
There are many wonderful surf kayaks in the market having multiple high-performance features. We have selected the top 10 Surf Kayaks based on their special features and the experience they offer to the surf kayaker.
Top 10 Best Surf Kayaks Reviewed
- Riot Kayaks Boogie 50
- Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-In Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit on Top Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Thunder 65
- Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on-top Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Frenzy One-Person Sit-On-Top Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Astro 54
- Perception Sport Pescardor 10 Kayak
- Digger Jitsu 6.0 Kayak
- Riot Kayak Magnum 72 Whitewater Surf Kayak
- Length: 7’8” (2. 35m)
- Width: 24” (61.5cm)
- Capacity: 200lbs (91kg)
- Weight: 36.3lbs (16.5kg)
The Riot Kayaks Boogie 50 is the classic watercraft built for surfing on rocky shores. The highly affordable kayak is ideal for the kayakers who enjoy care-free riding on any water terrain.
The kayak offers features like speed, comfort, and high maneuverability for riders with varied styles, sizes, skill levels- thanks to the sharp rails, spacious bow end, and ultimate design features at the stern end. The kayak comprises a power seat and comfortable foot blocks. Besides, it also has a drain plug and two grab loops for extra convenience.
|Suitable for multiple styles of kayakers||No anchor for thigh straps|
|High speed and maneuverability
|Foam foot blocks
|Roomy front end|
- Length: 115″ (292cm)
- Width: 29″ (74cm)
- Capacity: 250lbs (113kg)
- Weight: 40lbs. (18kg)
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a great Sit-in Kayak offering many unique features. It is one of the most affordable kayaks for multiple types of water surfaces. The kayak includes a paddle holder and foot braces that can be adjusted as per your convenience. Moreover, the watercraft also comprise a highly comfortable padded seat.
You can adjust the seat to your comfort level. The kayak also provides you with thigh pads for your protection while riding on water. Fortiflex material used in making the kayak provides it with very high durability.
In addition to the above special features, the kayak also offers a lot of storage space to keep your personal belongings securely.
|Enough storage spaces||Water accumulates in the kayak|
|Ideal for beginners||Not suitable for big waves|
|Easy to control|
- Length: 12′ (370cm)
- Width: 34” (86.4cm)
- Capacity: 425lbs (192.8kgs)
- Weight: 57lbs (26kgs)
The sit-on-top Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a class apart. The three-seater Kayak has an affordable price range and is ideal for a family adventure. The kayak is suitable for solo as well as tandem paddling. Besides, it also supports tandem paddling with your kid or pet on-board.
The watercraft has two Comfort Plus seats that can be adjusted in four different ways. Due to the high adjustability level, the seat offers the comfort of a custom-fit seating. It also has improved slip prevention compared to traditional seating. The Malibu Two features a special design of footwells. This provides high comfort to the paddler seated on the center seat.
The open hull design coupled with molded handles and skid plates offers extreme ease in entering and getting off the kayak. The kayak has a maximum capacity of 425lbs.
|Sole as well as tandem paddling||Not suitable in high tides conditions|
|Straps for personal belongings||Water leakage issue|
|Two Comfort Plus Seats|
|Easy to get on and off|
- Length: 7’8” (234cm)
- Width: 26” (64.8cm)
- Capacity: 180lbs (82kgs)
- Weight: 57lbs (26kgs)
With some very smart enhancement and advancements on the overall design, the Riot Thunder 65 is undoubtedly among the most efficient kayaks available. This beveled edged and shallow hulled ferry offers an amazingly smooth and effortless ride for paddlers of almost all xp levels.
This ideal blend of recreational and sea kayak is a feathery light option to explore the adventurous water bodies with full confidence. The kayak features a sleek profile with the quality slender bow. In addition, it has a 14½ rudder edge for higher efficiency while clearing obstacles.
And the smart thermoform construction offers ultimate stability and maneuverability.
|Next level contour outfitting||Lacks fins|
|Light Thermoform design
- Length: 114.5” (291cm)
- Width: 29.5” (75cm)
- Capacity: 250lbs (113kgs)
- Weight: 44lbs. (20kgs)
The Sun Dolphin Bali 10 is a sit-on kayak. It is a very lightweight, easily portable kayak with many different features to make any of your water trips enjoyable. The kayak has an open cockpit that makes the entry and exit quite easy. Besides, these highly convenient features, the watercraft has a Portable Accessory Carrier. You can use it as an additional storage space for keeping multiple necessities and personal belongings.
In addition to the extra storage space, the kayak boasts highly comfortable foot braces that can be adjusted to your height. Moreover, it also has enough space for a heavily built kayaker to sit comfortably during the entire kayaking adventure.
|Portable Accessory Carrier||No handles for gripping on either side|
|Lightweight and portable||Insufficient back support|
|Additional storage space|
- Length: 9′ (270cm)
- Width:31” (78.7cm)
- Capacity: 325lbs (147.4kgs)
- Weight: 44lbs (20 kgs)
Ultimate sit-on-top kayak for river and ocean water, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy, is one of the most sought-after kayaks in its category. The kayak offers absolute thrill in the surf while shows the utmost discipline on river water. The most popular Tri-Form hull from Ocean provides all levels of stability coupled with a long center keel to offer absolutely straight motion on water.
The Comfort Plus Seating allows for four-way adjustment offering absolute comfort during the day-long paddling. Built with high-quality material, these seats are strong and highly durable.
You can store all your necessities and personal belongings inside the stern tank well securing through the bungees. The lightweight of the boat offers high portability while easy to grip handles make it convenient to carry.
|Stern Tank well for storage||Seats not suitable for large size kayakers|
|Comfort Plus Seating||Construction quality not satisfactory|
- Length: 6’1” (187cm)
- Width: 25” (63.5cm)
- Capacity: 180lbs (82kgs)
- Weight: 34.5lbs (15.7kgs)
A stylish, safe, and stable way of exploring the water, the Riot Astro 54 is an absolute masterclass. This 6-foot water buddy has the desired beveled edges coupled with the ideal hull surface for high stability and impressive performance.
It is an efficient and comfortable kayak with contour fit and unity seating that offers whole new maneuverable advancements.
Besides, on grounds of safety, the kayak offers the top quality Suregrip thigh braces along with the Anti-theft bar.
It has the ideal design that sets forth some glorifying features and super cool performance.
|Dual rubber grab loops||A bit too small for many|
|Stable and lightweight||Slightly tricky to control|
- Length: 10′ 6″ / 323 cm
- Width: 32″ / 81 cm
- Capacity: 325 lbs. / 147 kg
- Weight: 57 lbs. / 26 kg
Leading almost on every grounds of sit-on-top kayaks, the highly versatile Perception Sport Pescador is certainly one of the best-value-for-money picks. This exceptionally stable and speedy kayak with its unbelievable straight-track performance offers a perfect option for the beginner as well as the experienced kayakers to explore the aqua world from an altogether different angle.
This top-quality kayak is a popular and ideal choice on water bodies including lakes, ponds, still rivers, and almost all of the other flatwater streams.
It is a 10-foot kayak with comfortable and stable construction that can pretty easily bear up to 325 lbs of load.
Besides, the feature list of the product includes the special Kayak handles for high maneuverability and added convenience.
|Ultra-comfortable CSS Seating||Not that efficient for professionals|
|Perfect for beginners||Expensive|
- Length: 6′ 0″ / 183 Cm
- Width:27″ / 69 Cm
- Capacity: 245 Lbs / 111 Kg
- Weight: 32 Lbs / 15 Kg
The Dagger Jitsu 6.0 is an all-size fit kayak. The tallest of kayakers will get the same thrill and enjoyment as the shortest of paddlers while riding the boat. The super blend of rocker and ultimate engineering design offers extreme stability while paddling the tightest of turn with great ease. The kayak offers unparalleled maneuverability, excellent acceleration, and super-smooth travel over any water surface. The boat is highly comfortable to paddle long distances.
|High maneuverability||Not very high speed|
- Length: 7’11” (2.42m)
- Width:26” (66cm)
- Capacity: 180lbs (82 Kg)
- Weight: 48.4 Lbs (22 Kg)
The Riot Kayaks Magnum 72 is one of the most meticulously designed kayaks by Riot. The kayak allows you to roam in any water condition- be it the big wave of the ocean or the flat water of the serene lake, the Magnum accompanies you on all water surfaces. The absolutely stunning characteristics of the boat can be attributed to the perfect shape of the deck. You can also put your bet on the rocker profile. The smoothest of profiles gives you absolutely no reason for not giving it its due credit. But when you look at the tail, you can’t ignore the volume given at the stern end. All in all, the magnum offers absolutely stunning performance with extreme comfort and convenience supporting all types of water conditions.
|The anti-theft bar for security||Not suitable for large size kayakers|
|Perfect rockers shape
Top Pick– Riot Kayak Boogie 50 Surf Kayak
Selecting the best among the most top-rated surf kayaks was not easy. However, with so many unique features up its sleeve, the Riot Kayak Boogie 50 left us with no choice but to select it as our top pick.
The Riot Kayak Boogie 50 kayak is built for the passionate surf kayakers. The watercraft has stunning performance on rocky shores which most of the surf kayaks don’t even consider visiting. The kayak has high maneuverability and with a rare blend of speed, this makes it a dream kayak for those who love care-free-riding on any water terrain. The power seat and convenient foot blocks add comfort to the most thrilling and exciting kayak surfing experience.
A Brief About Surf Kayaking
Surf kayaking is a mix of surfing and kayaking. It is a sport that uses kayaks to surf the ocean waves. In other words, it can be described as surfing while paddling on a kayak. In surf kayaking, you essentially sit on a kayak, paddle it, and rather than cutting through the water, face the ocean waves.
Though the history of surf kayaking is as old as the history of kayaks yet it has got the recognition of a dedicated sports activity only in the mid-70s. The surf shoe made by P & H has the credit of being the first kayak to be used in a surf kayaking competition. Since then this sport has gained a lot of popularity all across the world.
Surf Kayaks and Paddles are the two main equipment of surf kayaking. Many different types of surf kayaks are designed to suit different styles and skill levels of kayakers. The most popular of these types is the kayak with a three-fin thruster. Kayaks’ body is made of rotomolded plastic or composite glass while the paddles are made using fiberglass.
The surf kayaking competitions have time limits. Within the time limits, the kayaker has to make different surf kayaking moves. Each move gets the marking on its execution depending on the quality of the move. The judges award marks to each of these moves executed by the kayaker and add up to give the final score. The surf kayaker with the highest score wins the competition.
The two most important International Surf Kayaking Competitions include the World Surf Kayak Championship and Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Festival.
Getting the Surf Kayaks – Buyers Guide
The shape of a surf kayak is significantly different than the normal kayak. And the reason is pretty simple. The surf kayaks are designed to face the large waves and to plane across them. The normal kayaks, on the other hand, are designed to offer a smoother ride on the waves.
To support the basic objective of riding the waves, the hull of the kayak needs to be flat in shape so that it displaces minimum water. It is in contrast to the pointed shape of the hull in the case of normal kayaks where the main aim is to cut through the wave.
The surf kayaks are meant to give a thrilling experience to the kayaker or the surfer. Therefore, the bottom of a surf kayak is designed similar to the surfboard. It offers very high maneuverability to the kayak over the water.
Surf kayak is not as stable as its regular counterpart so if you intend to enjoy river kayaking using these kayaks you will be rather disappointed. Vice versa is equally true. You will not enjoy surfing using your regular kayak for surfing on the waves.
Buoyancy is the basic parameter responsible for the floating of any watercraft over any water surface. The volume of a surf kayak plays a vital role in determining the quantum of air inside the kayak and therefore its buoyancy. Kayak volume is actually a measure of its capacity to hold water inside the kayak.
Stability vs. Agility
Kayaks with high volume have very high stability. The high volume of the boat ensures that none of the ends of the kayak easily immerses under the water. It also ensures that even if immersed, the ends quickly come back over the water surface.
These kayaks though offer high stability as mentioned above but lose on the maneuverability of the boat. Therefore, these kayaks don’t make for good surf kayaks.
Surf kayaking is all about high agility and maneuverability. Their whole volume will be concentrated towards their center. This allows the kayak to have maximum agility with excellent maneuverability.
Designs for different skill levels
There are different designs of kayaks on the basis of their volumes. You need to select as per your skill level. If you are a newbie, you can go for the standard surf kayak. It gives you enough agility along with decent stability and control.
If, however, you are a pro-surf kayaker, you will rather prefer the extreme version of the watercraft that offers challenges to control the kayak on large waves and allow you to use your skills to maneuver in difficult tides. In that case, low volume surf kayaks will be the most suitable types of kayaks for you.
The curve of the surf kayak from the bow in the front to the stern at the rear of the kayak is called its rocker. The rocker is a major factor to determine the ease or difficulty of riding a kayak. Though every kayak has a different rocker there are two broad categories of rockers
- Continuous Rocker
- Kick Rocker
As the name suggests, Continuous Rocker has a continuous curve from the stern to the bow of the kayak. This design offers minimum contact of the kayak with the water surface.
This design allows for free spinning over the center of the kayak. In turn, it gives very high agility to the kayak. Kayaks with continuous rocker are therefore perfect for river running where you need to make very quick turns and movements.
The Kick Rocker has this name because the hull of the kayaks with this design kicks up at both ends while the bottom of the kayak is flatter. The design offers more contact area between the water and the kayak.
This shape of the kayak is suitable for facing large waves as the bottom of the kayak will be well placed on the water surface while the ends will remain clearly out of it.
Apart from the rocker, the chines on a kayak also play a vital role in defining its usage. Chine, which is the joint of the bottom and the sides of the hull is immersed under the water. It also plays a very important role in handling the water.
Hard Chine vs. Soft Chine
Kayaks with hard chine will offer more agility and control to the kayak as compared to the soft chine. A hard chine will easily get affected by the underwater and surface current and will also have chances of sticking to underwater objects.
A soft chine which has a round shape enhances the stability of the kayak to a great extent. From the agility point of view, soft chine will be less agile compared to the hard chine. Moreover, it won’t be easy with soft chine to maneuver through the water.
Using the right accessories is important to keep yourself safe during surf kayaking. While you are shopping for a surf kayak make sure that you also buy the following accessories to have the safest and the most enjoyable surf kayaking experience.
Life Jacket or PFD
A personal Floatation Device or PFD or a life jacket as it is popularly called is essential for your safety during surf kayaking. It keeps you floating on the water surface in case you lose your kayak. It is particularly important when a kayaker accidentally falls unconscious. You should buy the right fit life jacket- the one that allows free movement of your shoulders and upper body at the same time does not come off during a mishap.
A helmet is another protective gear that prevents serious injuries to your head during a direct collision with a hard object. Note that a surf kayak helmet has a different design than other types of kayaking activities. You should select the helmet that can protect you from the tough challenges of surf kayaking.
Reinforced paddles are more impact-resistant than the normal kayak paddles. Normal kayaking activity does not require such paddles as they do not face such harsh impacts. With surfing, paddles have to be very strong and rugged as they are subjected to heavy impacts while confronting wild waves.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the dangers of Surf Kayaking?
A: There are many serious dangers associated with Surf kayaking. The presence of sharks in the ocean can be life-threatening to kayak surfers. Besides, sudden weather changes can pose a serious danger in the ocean. The danger amplifies with no land near the surfing zone. Further to these dangers, hypothermia or immersion in cold water can be fatal if not protected suitably by wearing an insulated suit. Moreover, other surfers and even big ships also pose serious risks of collisions, if they do not notice you. Strong waves and high tides can also pose serious dangers while surf kayaking in the sea.
Q: How to Stay Safe While Surf Kayaking?
A: Training is the most important way to stay safe while surf kayaking. Learn and follow the safety guidelines while on a surf trip. Get all the safety equipment like a life jacket or a helmet before starting to kayak. Apart from learning and following safety rules, also learn self-rescuing. This will give you a lot of confidence when you confront even the wildest of waves in the ocean. It is advisable to follow specific surf zone ethics if you surf kayak in the traditional surfboarding areas. Newbies should use gentle breaks while beginning to surf kayaking.
Q: Can I use a white water playboat to surf ocean waves?
A: For the ordinary waves, yes you can use white water playboats to surf ocean waves. However, it is not the ideal way to face the ocean waves as playboats do not offer you the required hull speed to catch rapid waves. One of the few reasons is the shape of playboats. These boats have a different shape then ideally required for surfing the ocean and therefore lags behind while catching the wave. Having a specialized surf kayak is the best and the most enjoyable way to surf ocean waves. It is also the safest way to ride the waves on the sea.