Kayaking with kids

Kayaking is something our family loves to do.  Purchasing some kayaks and gear has provided summers full of fun!  We love getting outdoors and exploring as a family, and this is one of our favorite activities.

Here are some of the basic tips you need to get started!


We have a regular size kayak as well as a kid’s kayak.  There are also tandem kayaks, so depending on the size of your family and the age of your children, there are many options available.  My daughter started using a kid’s kayak right before she turned 5 (with some help).

Kayaking with kids

Life Vests

Life vests are so important for kayaking.  Not only is this a must for safety, but it sets a good example.  As parents, we also always wear our life vests when we kayak.  Choose life vests carefully, as there are many kinds, such as ones that will right your child if they fall in the water and support their head above water, and be sure that it has a crotch strap so that the vest doesn’t ride up.  Be sure to check the weight range for your child.

Tow Ropes & Paddle Leashes

Kids may need some assistance with learning to paddle, and we always have the option of a tow rope.  This may provide added security, or it might be a necessity if your child cannot steer or propel their own kayak.  We often start without the tow rope and then have it ready to clip to their kayak when the kids get tired.  You also never know if there will be a current or other situation where you need it, so be prepared.

Kayaking with kids

Paddle leashes are a really good idea, so that if your child drops their paddle, it isn’t a big deal and can be easily retrieved.

Sun Protection

We are always very careful about sun protection, and in the kayak, this means not only sunscreen, but often a rash guard shirt and a sun hat.  Because it is often very sunny, this means lots of glare off the water too, so we make sure the kids have a pair of sunglasses with them.  I find that even if they refuse them at first, they gladly put them on at some point!  If you are able to, spring for a nice pair of polarized glasses which gives better visibility on the water.

Snacks and Hydration

As with all outdoor activities, we make sure we are prepared with snacks and water bottles.  Tired, hungry kids are not going to enjoy kayaking!

Clothes, Shoes & Towels

Consider that your child may get wet from being in the kayak, whether they get splashed or water comes in the kayak.  They may end up sitting in some water.  I always bring a change of clothes and some microfiber towels.  The kids also wear water shoes or crocs – some kind of shoes they can get wet.

Fun Extras

As with any of our outdoor adventures, we like to add in some fun elements.  We often bring things like nets and buckets to try to catch stuff like we are kayaking, like frogs or turtles.  It makes for a fun experience, and the kids usually learn about local flora and fauna too.

Kayaking can be a lot of fun and a great learning experience too.  Stay safe and happy kayaking!

Kayaking with kids