There are plenty of ways to get out on the water in Ireland to enjoy yourself but not everyone enjoys the same things. Some people prefer to enjoy the extensive range of rivers both slow-flowing and fast-flowing. Some people prefer to cruise around large still waters taking a quieter and more relaxed approach. Some people prefer to take to the coastal waters to enjoy the world from a different perspective.
There are several ways you can get out on the water to enjoy nature, but not all are suited for everyone. In this article, we’ll be looking at the differences between kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards and who will benefit most out of each water-going vessel.
If you’re stuck wondering whether you want a sit-in kayak, stand up paddle board, or an open top canoe this article is for you. By the end of this read, you will have a clear idea of which one is best for you, your paddling style, and the waters that you wish to conquer. Enjoy!
What is a Kayak?
Kayaks are small vessels that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although there are many different kayaks, some designed for touring, some for fishing, and some for costal cruising, they can be divided into two groups. These groups are sit-on-top kayaks and sit-in kayaks.
Sit-on-top kayaks have an open cockpit. Your whole body is exposed on a sit-on kayak, so you’re exposed to the elements. However, they are much easier to mount and dismount compared to sit-in kayaks.
Sit-on kayaks are ideal for anglers that want to take their fishing to the water as they provide a freer range of movement and easy access to rods, tackle, and other essentials. They’re also great for casual summer paddling on gentle rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
Sit-in kayaks are more recognisable when you think of what a kayak is. They are the more traditional design that requires the paddler to get inside a small cockpit. The sit-in kayak conceals your legs and with a skirt, will prevent water from getting inside. This makes them perfect for faster-flowing rivers, rougher conditions, and whitewater. However, they are harder to mount and dismount, so some practice will be needed before you master this art.
Sit-in kayaks can be used for almost any situation. However, they may become uncomfortable on longer distance tours. They have less storage space also which makes them a little less appropriate for touring. That being said, plenty of people use sit-in kayaks that are specifically designed for touring and camping. It all depends on what you’re more comfortable using.
What is a Canoe?
Canoes are similar to kayaks in that they are small simple vessels that can be used to navigate the water. The main difference between a canoe and kayak is the deeper open top design and the use of single bladed paddles rather than double bladed paddles.
It’s rare to see a canoe in salt water as they can take on water easily due to the deep design that sits close to the water. They are more at home on gentle rivers and large lakes. You get more space in a canoe and they can usually hold two or more people.
They are perfect for people that want to tour in a group down rivers and across lakes. Due to their wider design, they are generally slower than the narrower kayak, so they are great for people that want a slower approach to paddling.
What is a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)?
Stand up paddle boards are completely different compared to kayaks and canoes because (you guessed it) you stand up on them rather than sit down. The only similarity is the fact that you paddle to navigate.
They can be used almost anywhere as long as conditions suit. They’re fantastic for exploring coastal waters when the water is calm. They are perfect for getting out on the lake during the summer. They can also be used on rivers. However, the river should be slow flowing, wide, and broad otherwise you may get into some issues.
Stand up paddle boards resemble a surfboard in some aspect, but they are much longer, more buoyant, and can be used without the aid of the ocean. Stand up paddle boarding is a fantastic work out and provides a different perspective while out on the water. The elevated position is great for viewing stunning coastlines, banksides, the water ahead, and marine wildlife.
Who are Kayaks Suited to?
Kayaks are a great allrounder for those that want to paddle in a wide variety of different waters. If you fancy taking a calm paddle on a lake one day, a gentle coastal paddle another, and some adrenalin-fuelled whitewater paddling the next time, the right kayak can help you do this.
For solo paddlers kayaks are great especially if you enjoy fishing. A sit-on kayak provides you with a compact vessel that puts everything you need to hand in an easy-to-use package that can be used to reach even the most challenging of spots.
Kayaks also take up little room and are easy to transport. Even the largest hardshell kayak will fit on the roof of a hatchback car. And if you don’t have storage, inflatable kayaks will fit under the stairs, in an unused corner, or cupboard.
Who are Canoes Suited to?
Canoes are perfect for those that enjoy exploring over several days. They have plenty of space to store camping gear, food, water, and other essentials for a long exhibition. They’re also the best option if you’re a couple or two friends that like to enjoy nature together in one vessel.
They are easy to get in and out of and are comfortable to paddle in for extended periods of time. If you prefer to take a slower pace to life and find yourself drawn to slow flowing rivers and large still waters, a canoe is ideal.
The main issue with canoes is their size. You’ll need a larger vehicle to transport them, and they are more of a hassle to get on the roof compared to kayaks. You’ll also need a decent-sized space to store one.
Who are Stand up Paddle Boards Suited to?
Stand up paddle boards are perfect for those that thrive for adventure. They are lightweight, compact, and easily transportable. If you are looking for an active sport that works the whole body, paddle boards are the way forward. However, you’ll be restricted by the weather and water conditions unless you are super keen!
There are a few different types of paddle board available and which you choose will depend on what kind of person you are. Short boards are more manoeuvrable and are great for surfing the waves at the coast. Medium boards are the perfect allrounder for a bit of surfing, some chilled still water paddling and SUP yoga. Longer boards are better suited for fast and long-distance paddling as well as camping and touring.
Stand up paddleboards can be used for the same purposes as kayaks and canoes just in a slightly different way. Rather than being restricted to a sitting position you are able to stand and paddle. That doesn’t mean you can’t sit down to take a breather though. Paddle boards can be equipped with luggage straps, compasses, and rod holders if you want to paddle to far out destinations or target fish from an elevated position.
If you’re looking for something a little different and want a sport that you can do on a range of waters stand up paddle boarding is great. The diversity of a medium-sized board is great for beginners. The versatility of a medium-sized SUP will allow you to head out and catch some waves, tour long-distance, go fishing, or even practice yoga at sunrise with the ocean as your view.