Any recommendations for a ROOKIE?

Would love to get into Kayaking and I’m confused by basics.

I live near the Hillsborough River in Tampa Florida.

Would love to get a kayak for the river as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

Do I get SIT ON or SIT IN? What length? Any particular brands to look at? Any suggestions for a complete rookie?

I rented a SIT IN and enjoyed the day…

Your thoughts would be appreciated.


ronny paddles

check out clubs in area
It sounds like you may not yet know what your kayaking ambitions may be (type of water, distance, to goof around or explore or have thrills. A club often has some beginner events where there may be rentals. The folks leading the outing may know some of what more advanced things the club does. After talking you can ask them about gear and learning. After a couple easy outings you may want to ask about lessons in your area. Depending on how well you know by then what you want to do and depending on how good their rentals are you can decide whether to buy a boat before taking lessons or later. When ready to buy you can save money by getting a nice used boat. Then in a year or so you may find you know more and want a newer boat which could then be a brand new one or used.

If you already know in more detail what you want to do then folks here may be able to help, but nothing beats locals on the scene who may be the ones you paddle a lot with eventually.

Include based clubs when looking around.

I’m thinking Venture Kayak - Isla 14
But not knowing your size and weight it’s hard to make a real recommendation. Visit Sweetwater Kayaks in St.Petersburg and they will find the best fit kayak .

Heat …
One advantage sit on tops have is they were made for climate that you live in. A sit inside kayak and 90 - 100 degree heat is no fun. Lots of choices for slow rivers and coastal paddling. Look at the buyers guide at

I would try out both kinds by renting before you buy. I own both kinds, but for a beginner in your area, a decent SOT is probably the way to go. Avoid the wide barge like boats that seem stable, there are lots of good choices for seaworthy SOTs that can be paddled at a reasonable speed.

Clubs/ Meetups Groups/ Outfitter

– Last Updated: Feb-05-13 11:11 AM EST –

Edited to fix the links -

You need more time doing things in a boat - until you know what your primary paddling goals are no one can really tell you in an online situation.

Spring isn't far off, especially in Florida. Look up demo days within driving distance.

Nearby Outfitters: Osprey Bay Kayaking - Fishing, SOT's, rec boats and some more Sweetwater Kayaks - Very good sea kayaking outfit

Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers

Buy used
something like the one you rented if it was comfortable.

Take advice to buy a specific brand or a boat with a huge grain of salt

Go with a light small bladed paddle (no longer than 220 cm as a general rule)

Look at folding and inflatable boats as well.

Butt time
Get butt time. There is an article in the Spring 2012 issue of California Kayaker Magazine describing both why you want this, and how to get it. Can be read online for free at

A good starting point articles can be a good starting point.

From this page - the one you are looking at - click on ARTICLES and then GUIDELINES. Might help you figure some things out.

Take a lesson.

Get out and paddle.

RTM Disco Kayak and an Aquabound…
Manta Ray paddle and a good fitting life vest from an actual kayak store.

Another idea is to go on Craigs list and get whatever you can afford today and start this weekend. Most anything you buy used you can sell used at little loss. And I guarantee your first boat will not be the last one you want if you stick with paddling a while.