March 01, 2022 5 min read

Kayaking is a popular water sport that people of all ages can enjoy.

There are two main types of kayaking: kayaking on calm water and kayaking on white water.

White water kayaking is a more extreme version of kayaking that involves navigating through rapids and other obstacles, a wild experience in comparison to flat water kayaking.

When most people think of kayaking, they think of peacefully paddling on a lake or through a calm river, or perhaps sea kayaking.

However, kayaking can also involve navigating between fast-moving, whitewater rapids.

So, what is the difference between flat water kayaking and white water kayaking?

Keep reading our blog post to find out the key difference between calm water kayaking and white water kayaking and which steps to take as a beginner with recreational white water kayaking.

Flat Water Kayaking on a River and White Water Kayaking - How Different Are They?

Kayaking and white water kayaking are outdoor activities that use a paddle and a boat to move through the water. However, there are some critical differences between the two, and the rewards you get in terms of adrenaline.

Whitewater kayaking is a more extreme and dangerous form of kayaking that involves paddling through rapids, wilderness, and whitewater. This can be a thrilling guided experience, but it also requires more reliable gear and a higher level of skill and expertise than regular kayaking in a sea kayak or fishing. In whitewater kayaking, you need to be able to quickly maneuver your kayak through the rapids and avoid any obstacles in your way.

If you're looking for a more relaxed experience, kayaking in sea kayaks is the better option, while white water tours offer a more thrilling experience than being on flat water. Think of it as walking versus hiking and camping in terms of the experience.

You see, kayaking is a more leisurely activity that can be enjoyed on flat water. In contrast, white water is more intense and best suited for a more challenging experience. White water kayaks are also typically narrower and more agile than regular kayaks, which means they can easily maneuver through tight spaces and around obstacles in the water.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Safer for Whitewater Kayaking Than Day Touring Kayaks?

Inflatable gear have been around for less than 20 years, but they have quickly become a popular alternative to the traditional hard-shell kayaks or the standard touring kayak for kayaking. Inflatable kayaks are durable PVC or Hypalon and can be rapidly inflated and deflated, making them easy to transport and store.

Usually, they are also much lighter than traditional kayaks for day touring that have a lot of weight, making them ideal for white water kayaking. Inflatable kayaks are less stable than conventional kayaks, but they are still popular for white water kayaking because they are more forgiving if you hit a rock or tree. They also take up less space than traditional kayaks, so they are becoming more popular among river kayakers for white water kayaking, along with whitewater kayaks.

Steps for a Beginner to Get Into White Water Kayaking

Kayaking is an excellent watersport for all ages and abilities. If you are looking to get into a whitewater kayaking kayak, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Here are some tips for the beginner to get into white water kayaking before you sit in boats: Learn the basics - before you hit the rapids, it is essential to learn the basics of kayaking. The basics for paddling include how to get in and out of the kayak, how to hold the paddle, and how to paddle while touring the ocean. Many great instructional videos online can teach you the basics of paddling in a kayak of any size.

Find the right kayak - not all kayaks are created equal. There are different types of kayaks for different types of water. For white water kayaking, you will need a kayak designed for rapids of white water for additional safety, and not touring kayaks. Day touring kayaks and flat water kayaks simply don't offer the same stability and safety of whitewater kayaks because they are designed for flat water and don't have as many accessories.

Also, get some experience of being in a kayak. It is also essential to get some experience kayaking in flat water before hitting the rapids. This will help you get comfortable with the sport and learn the necessary skills. Start on calm water. This will help you get comfortable with the kayak and the movements you need to make to propel and steer it. Progress to gradually more challenging waters. As you become more comfortable with kayaking, you can move to faster and more turbulent waters with your whitewater kayak.

If you still feel unsure about your skills, you can book a class or course with a white water kayaking instructor to get hands-on experience of being inside a white water kayak or a kayak touring stand-up program.

white water kayaking


Whitewater kayaking is an adrenaline-pumping activity that people of all ages can enjoy. It is a great way to get outdoors and explore the natural world. Whitewater kayaking is also a challenging sport that can take years to master when you compare it to calm water kayak activities or canoeing.

We hope our article helped you know the steps for beginners to get into white water kayaking and the difference between calm water kayaking and white water kayaking. Before you book your next tour, you will know how to prepare to get the best of it!


Is white water kayaking difficult?

White water kayaking can be a difficult and dangerous sport if you are not aware of the risks and how to execute the maneuvers properly. It can be easy to get thrown from your kayak and into the water, so it is essential to be aware of your surroundings and the dangers that come with kayaking on white water.

However, white water kayaking can be a thrilling experience with the proper safety gear and instruction.

How do you kayak in white water?

When kayaking in white water, it is essential to be aware of the conditions and take precautions to ensure your safety. Before getting in the kayak, check the weather conditions and wear the appropriate clothing and gear.

In white water, you will want to wear a helmet and a life jacket, and you may also want to wear a wet suit to protect you from the cold. When you are in the kayak, be aware of the river conditions and be prepared to take action to avoid danger. Stay away from rocks and other obstacles, and be ready to maneuver your kayak quickly to avoid trouble.

What is whitewater kayaking like? What are whitewater kayaks?

Whitewater kayaking is an adrenaline rush like no other. It's an incredible feeling to be flying down a river, dodging rocks, and bouncing off of waves, with the water spraying all around you. It can be a bit daunting to start, but with a bit of practice, you'll be kayaking like a pro in no time.

This sport can be enjoyed in various waterways, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. Whitewater kayakers often use kayaks for whitewater specifically designed for this type of activity. These kayaks are narrower and have a pointed bow, which allows them to cut through the water more efficiently. It can be a challenging and exciting sport and requires a lot of skill and practice to perform safely.
Author - Olivia Poglianich
Olivia Poglianich          

Content Strategist

Olivia Poglianich is a nomadic brand strategist and copywriter in the surf, watersports and outdoor adventure space who has worked with brands such as Visa, Disney and Grey Goose. Her writing has taken her all over the world, from a Serbian music festival to a Malaysian art and culture event. Olivia is a graduate of Cornell University and is often writing or reading about travel, hospitality, the start-up ecosystem or career coaching. Her latest interests are at the intersection of web3 and communal living, both on and offline.

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