Best SOT tandem

Hey folks I’m trying to find the best tandem sit on top for my wife and myself. We are looking for something that can carry a small cooler, a beach tent, and our small maltese. For the most part it will just be transportation to get to parts of the beach only accessible by boat. It needs to be able to handle a choppy bay but nothing serious. Bay crossings will only be between .5 to 1 mile, although it will be nice to take the scenic long way around at no more than 2.5 miles one way. Right now my solo boat is a chesapeake 17, it is fast and moves effortlessly across that bay. I’m concerned with how much more effort it is going to take to move a much wider boat. Looking for suggestions on what kayak may fit our situation. My wife doesn’t want to ride alone so suggesting she get her own boat won’t help us. I also must keep my clc 17 in shallow water since I can’t roll it, or even get back in it in a deep water rescue situation so we are set on a sit on top for family cruising at least until I get better with my solo ride and she gets more comfortable on the water. Thanks.

Old information
I’ve paddled several rental tandem SOTs and owned a Hobie Oddysey and used a friends Ocean Kayak Malibu II quite a bit in surf.

There used to be more available like the Heritage Tandem and the Ocean Kayak Cabo, which were stable fast paddlers good for ocean paddling in choppy water. They are not made anymore.

The Hobie paddled fairly fast for a tandem SOT, that’s why I bought it, it’s also versatile, you can install the seat in the center and paddle it solo and it will work very well. It does not feel too much like paddling a barge. I don’t think I would recommend the Hobie for paddling in real choppy water or going in and out through significant surf for beginner paddlers.

The Ocean Kayak Malibu II, (not to be confused with Malibu brand kayaks) is a very good seaworthy SOT, that is very slow to paddle, it’s kind of a big plastic barge. That being said we have surfed one in huge surf and paddled out through really nasty shore break. My advice would be to see what paddlers are using in your area.

West marine
Has the Malibu two in stock. They also have the perception tribe 13.5 which we were looking at but it truly looks like a barge. Lots of storage space though.

define "best"
Most tandems will meed what you listed as requirements. So what would make one boat better than another for you? Price, weight, length, color, cup holder, etc?

Best for us
Since Ive gotten a taste of paddling a “real” kayak with the clc 17 I guess the best for me is going to be the the one that gets us the farthest on the least amount of effort. Granted I know none of these tanks will move like my chesapeake.

How about considering a sit inside double, rather than a SOT? Be much more efficient through the water, though generally are much more stable than a single (I can easily stand in the doubles we use for tours, but can’t in the singles I paddle).

Sounds like self rescues are a concern, and that can be handled if you take a course and perhaps buy tools (like paddle float, stirrups, pumps, etc.) to allow you to get back in if you flip on the water.

Like singles, there are a variety of types of doubles, ranging from racing to recreational. You can get one a but more on the rec side to fit the dog and cooler, yet still have enough flotation to allow you to self-rescue on the water.

Jackson Big Tuna?
Have you given a look at the Jackson Big Tuna? My father & his wife are looking into this boat - it has a lot of features and can be paddled solo as well as together with minimal change. It also manages to carry 2 adults & 2 kids if you’re so inclined, so a tent & supplies would be no issue.