Can You Go Kayaking Without Knowing How to Swim

Kayaking is a recreational sport enjoyed by many people. It is very fun and allows for many water activities. However, many people who want to go kayaking may not know how to swim or be in deep waters.

This begs the question; can you go kayaking without knowing how to swim? You can go kayaking without knowing how to swim. However, it may be dangerous. If you are not a very strong swimmer, take precautions before going out on the water by wearing a life vest and asking someone who has experience in kayaking with non-swimmers to help you.

In this article, we will discuss into details all that you need to do and the safety precautions to take if you want to kayak without knowing how to swim.

What Does Kayaking Entail?

Kayaking is a term used to describe a boat that is maneuvered using two oars. It can be done on the sea as well as in still water such as lakes and ponds. As mentioned earlier, it is very fun and allows for many water activities.

However, many people may not know how to swim or be in deep waters. However, this does not mean that they should not go kayaking. They can still go out on the water using a kayak; however, it may be dangerous without proper precautions and skills.

What to Expect When Kayaking If You Do Not Know How to Swim

A lot can happen while kayaking and if you do not know how to swim, it could be dangerous for you. If the kayak capsizes, there is a chance that you will drown and without knowing how to swim, this can be very life threatening.

However, as said, you can still go kayaking but with certain precautions such as putting on the life jacket/vest.

Kayaking Tips for Non-Swimmers

If you do not know how to swim but would like to go Kayaking, the tips below will come in handy:

Always Wear Your Life Vest

Kayaking is very fun but if you are not a very strong swimmer, it can be dangerous especially if the kayak flips over or capsizes. It is recommended that before going out on the water, you always put on your life vest to ensure safety.

What is the Ideal life vest for non-swimmer kayakers? Not all vests will work well for kayakers. We recommend that you buy a kayak buoyancy aid vest. This is because this type of life vests are made to be comfortable enough for situations where the wearer may have to sit in water for long periods.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Before going kayaking, make sure you are aware of the conditions of the water. If there are sudden gusts of wind or strong waves, it is better to postpone your trip until later on when the weather has stabilized.

Do Not Over Exert Yourself

The best way to enjoy kayaking without having to worry about drowning is by sitting down and paddling with your hands instead of getting up and overexerting yourself.

Have Someone with Experience Accompany You

If possible, try to have someone who is experienced in kayaking with non-swimmers accompany you so they can help look after you and assist you in case of an emergency.

You should never go out on the water alone as this may cause more problems than solutions since there would not be anyone to assist you in cases of emergencies.

Test out Your Skills before Going on the Real Thing

Do not just jump into water if you do not know how to swim. To get better at kayaking while also exploring potential dangers, you should test out your skills in a swimming pool or somewhere you will be close to safety if anything happens.

Take Kayaking Lessons

If you do not know how to swim but really want to experience kayaking, you should take lessons. This way, you will learn the basic skills of kayaking and be able to enjoy it with less risk of anything happening.

Conquer Your Fear

Before going out on the water, take a moment to confront your fears. Whatever you are afraid of can happen while kayaking but it is better to face them and see that they are not as bad as you thought instead of being afraid and doing nothing about it. You will have a lot more fun if you counter of all the negative thoughts in your head and just enjoy yourself.

Hang On Your Kayak

If you are the type of person who is afraid of capsizing or dancing in the kayak, then try hanging on to your kayak instead of sitting down. This way, you can still enjoy kayaking but without having to worry about capsizing and drowning.

Start Slow

Because it is better to start slow, make sure you take all the precautions mentioned above like wearing your life vest before jumping into the water. Take one-step at a time and make gradual progress until you are ready for more advanced kayaking skills.

Choose Calm Waters

The best way to avoid capsizing is by choosing calm waters. If you are not very experienced, it is better to kayak in calmer waters where there are less waves and wind since this will help to stabilize the kayak.

Focus On Distributing Your Weight Evenly In the Boat

If you know how to swim and kayak already, make sure that even when paddling hard, you do not put all of your body weight onto one side of the kayak. This will seriously jeopardize its stability and almost guarantee that it will capsize.

Choose a Stable Kayak

See if you can rent a kayak that is known to be sturdy and very difficult for the wind or waves to destabilize.

Other important tips include:

  • Plan for emergencies before getting into your kayak For example, if you know that the water is quite rough today, bring along a tarp to act as your safety net just in case.
  • Do not take unnecessary risks. If you know you are good at kayaking but it has been raining every day lately, do not go out on the water because there will probably be a lot of algae build up and this may make kayaking a lot more difficult.
  • Be able to roll with your kayak if you capsize. One of the best ways to avoid capsizing is by being able to right yourself again should you do so.
  • Stick to your plan and route- If you are not used to kayaking or there is a lot of wind and waves, it might be better to keep your planned route close to the shore.
  • Be conservative with your speed- If you want to avoid capsizing at all costs, then do not paddle too fast because this will destabilize the kayak even more.
  • Practice rolling your kayak before going out on the water- See if you are able to roll your kayak back up again after capsizing. This way, you will be more confident about kayaking and will feel more at ease.
  • Go to places where you can reach help if anything happens- Unfortunately, if you are practicing kayaking on your own then it may be difficult to get help should anything happen. This is why it is recommended that you go to a place with people who can quickly come to your rescue.
  • Alternate kayaking with swimming: This way, even if you are not kayaking, you will still be improving your swimming skills.
  • Make sure others are aware of your plans for kayaking before doing so- Let other people know where you are going to be kayaking at all times in case something should happen. This is especially important because even if you are able to paddle your kayak back to the shore, you will still be cold and wet so staying in touch with someone will help ensure that you get the proper attention.

Is Kayaking Dangerous If You Do Not Know How To Swim?

We have seen the possibility of kayaking without knowing how to swim in the article. However, is it dangerous?

Well, we cannot rule out the possibility of it being dangerous. There is a good chance that you may drown, especially if the weather conditions are not the best and if you do not have any experience kayaking before.

This means that for those without kayaking experience, we highly recommend that they either:

  • Turn back as soon as possible to avoid any dangerous situations like capsizing.
  • Go kayaking with someone else who is a strong swimmer and has a lot of experience. This way, should anything happen the strong swimmer will be there to help you while you recover your strength because you have just been in a very bad situation.
  • Take other precautions to make sure you are safe. For example, practice capsizing and righting yourself again so that you can be confident about kayaking and not capsize because this is almost inevitable. Also, wear a life vest/jacket as already mentioned.

Note that accidents do happen, and that even the best kayakers may capsize. Always act with caution and go on an appropriate route to avoid any serious accidents.

Kayaking is easy and safe if you know how to swim or can roll over your kayak back up again. If the weather conditions are good, there is no algae build up in the water, and you have experience, then it is actually safe.

The only dangerous moments happen if you have never done kayaking before and go out on a bad weather day or take a very fast route so that you get tired quickly.

Having said this, if there are other people around who can help, then kayaking can be both fun and safe; just follow all precautions to ensure that you are being safe. There are always people on the water who will be willing to help but never go out alone if you have no experience kayaking.


Kayaking is much more fun if you know how to swim. However, you can still kayak if you cannot swim. The main consideration is that you must make sure to change your plans in case of bad weather and take precautions so that other people around can help should anything happen, while you kayak. Always act with caution when kayaking.

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