Kayaking Vs Paddleboarding

 Kayaking vs Paddleboarding, what’s the difference?

Paddleboarding has become more popular and thus easier to find rentals making it more accessible for beginners to test the sport. Growing up in Canada (80’s)  canoeing and kayaking were common recreational activities but I had never heard of paddleboarding!

I’ve done a lot of kayaking; maybe even more than paddleboarding but that’s changing quickly!

I’ve mostly done touring and recreational kayaking but in University I learned white water kayaking. When I lived in Byron Bay, Australia I worked for Cape Byron Kayaks using open cockpit sea kayaks.

A brief history of the kayak from the

International Canoe Federation

“Kayaks were built to ensure icy Arctic water did not enter the boat. They were made by stretching animal skins over a wooden frame and could generally only carry one man at a time. The Kayak probably originates from Greenland, where it was used by the Eskimos while the Canoe was used all over the world. The word Kayak (ki ak), meaning “man-boat” in Eskimo, was found predominately in the northern parts of the world, North America, Siberia and Greenland.”

Similarities and Differences:

Overall both recreational activities are accessible to beginners; you could argue that getting into a kayak is trickier than putting your body on a flat paddleboard.

Both activities are great for your core but with the added element of standing, Paddleboarding also requires you to fire up your stabilizing muscles to balance. You always have the option to sit and kneel on a board too, with a kayak your only option is sitting.  Because of this, you have a higher viewpoint on a paddleboard and can see more clearly into the water. This is pretty epic when you paddle over shipwrecks, coral reefs or other wildlife.

Since kayaks typically have an inner cargo area they are able to carry and store more items than a paddleboard with an open deck, making longer adventures potentially easier in a kayak. 

Wind and chop play a bigger factor with a paddleboard since you’re less aerodynamic than a kayak and waves can be more challenging with the added balancing of being higher above the water on your feet. With the center of gravity closer to the water on a kayak, they are much more stable.



Sitting Standing
Hollow Hull Flat Deck
Double Blade Paddle Single Blade Paddle
Easier/Harder? Easier/Harder?
More Stable Less Stable
More Storage Less Storage
Faster? Slower?
Less Portable? Portable?
Less Maneuverable? More Maneuverable?
Limited? Versatile?

Overall kayaking is usually faster but that will depend on the type of boat and board. A recreational or white water kayak will be slower than a race paddleboard but a recreational kayak matched with an all-around paddleboard will be faster.

Maneuverability in the water is pretty par, keeping in mind that paddling a kayak might be easier to start since it’s a double-bladed paddle and not a single-blade paddle, making it easier to track straight.

On-land, portability is a bit of a toss-up but typically paddleboards are lighter and easier to carry. There are inflatable (even foldable) kayaks but they aren’t as common as iSUPs (inflatable paddleboards).

Again, depending on the style of boat or board the price between the two are similar. The price will range from $500 to thousands of dollars. 

An all-around recreational paddleboard is very versatile for various activities compared to a kayak. You can tour, surf, do yoga, relax with a drink and easily take pets or kids with you!

See how it all began for me and why I chose a paddleboard! 

Kayaking vs paddleboarding, whatever your choice is, both are great outdoor activities to go on an adventure where you wouldn’t normally go plus it’s a perfect social distance activity with friends! Maybe you’re like me and you enjoy both activities for different reasons; why do you need to choose? Get outside and have a blast! 

Let me know in the comments what you prefer and what your experiences with

kayaks and paddleboards have been. 

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  • Tony F

    Love the factoid about kayak meaning “man-boat.” I had a blast Kayaking on Halloween and I can’t wait to try SUP this spring! Nice breakdown and great photos. Makes me want to go on an adventure right now!

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