Looking for My First Kayak

I recently moved to southern Louisiana, from southwest Pennsylvania, and without great hiking I am switching to paddling. I had a canoe back in PA, but I could not transport it down here with me. I am looking for a multipurpose kayak to explore the swamps, lakes, rivers, bayous, and maybe the Gulf Coast when its calm. I am 5’10" and 210. I was/am looking at the WS Pungo 120, which currently is in my price range, the sale price anyhow. I also am not sure on what paddle length I would need. Any suggestions or experiences you can share would be appreciated!

I like the Pungo. It’s a good boat for fairly sheltered water but at 210lbs I’d say you’re just a little bit heavy for it. I’m 190lbs and 6’0" and started off with a Pungo 120 and I think I was right at its limit.

A much better boat for you would be the Pungo 140. Not only can it handle more weight but it also has two watertight compartments making it a much safer boat.

Pungo questionable for big open water
Which is the Gulf Coast, though a somewhat mellow version of it. As manufacturer states it is a rec boat. 140 better if a Pungo, 2 bulkheads.

You could stay in the other water for starters, consider looking for a used touring boat down the road if you wanted to go further out.

agree with Celia
Rec style boats like the Pungos are not intended for deepwater and coastal conditions – the makers are pretty clear on that. You can be dragged by winds and currents out past the distance where you would be able to effectively paddle back to shore. They are comparatively slow and don’t track well in poor conditions.

Also, their extremely oversized cockpits won’t support a sprayskirt (they make some that fit but when water collects or waves hit they will sag and implode) which is a pretty important piece of safety gear for coastal paddling in a sit inside kayak. Since you are going to be staying in warm water, you would be better off looking for a longer sit on top kayak. At your size you need to be considering at least 14’ boats and one longer would be better.

Paddle size will be determined by the boat you get, it’s width and depth as well as your body metrics and paddling style.

Epic v5
Take a look at Epic’s v5. It’s really fast for a short boat (14ft length 46lbs). This is Epic’s second rotomolded kayak/surf-ski. Don’t let the words surf ski scare you. This is a very stable boat (23.6in width). It fits a wide range of paddler sizes, ranging from 4 foot 10 inches to 6 foot 7 inches. It has excellent primary and secondary stability. It’s designed for ocean conditions but also so great for rivers, lakes and even playing in shorebreak. You can’t swamp it like a rec boat, so you are much safer further from shore. Plus it’s a nice price too ($1450 new). Have fun!

Here’s another.
It sounds like you need an all purpose boat and you’d be hard pressed to find a better boat at the price than a Current Designs Sirocco. You should be able to pick up a new one for about $1450, or less.