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What is the difference between kayaking and canoeing?

These water sports are fun and exciting ways to get fit

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Kayaking and canoeing are two different types of water sport, that involve rowing through water in small boats. Kayaking and canoeing are similar, but involve different types of boats, paddles, and techniques.

How do you do it?

Both kayaking and canoeing involve rowing through water in a boat. You can do it in an indoor swimming pool, or in a lake, river or sea. It can be difficult to master at first, and can be dangerous if you don’t know how to do it right, so it’s important to get lessons from a trained instructor when you start out. Keep in mind, that these can be quite expensive.

You can find more information on safety here.



What is the difference between kayaking and canoeing?

Both activities are similar in some ways, but involve different types of boats, oars, and technique.


A kayak is normally an “enclosed vessel”, with a hole in the middle that you can sit into, stretching your legs out in front of you. The long paddle has a blade on either end, so both ends of the paddle can be used to push you through the water.

Kayaking is a versatile sport, with lots of different activities to choose from. You can go sightseeing, go into the sea, visit waterfalls, and go kayaking on white water rapids if you’re looking for more of a thrill.

For some of the more adventurous activities like kayaking in rapids, you may need a helmet and nose plugs.

Whatever you’re into, kayaking can be a really fun way to get some exercise.


A canoe is different to a kayak because it is normally an “open vessel” that you sit or kneel in. The paddle is shorter with only one blade, and you switch from side to side while rowing to determine your direction.

Canoeing is great for paddling around slow-moving water like lakes or canals. Because of their open top design, some of the more intense activities you can do in a kayak (like white water kayaking) wouldn’t be possible in a traditional canoe, because too much water would get in. However, there are some canoes that are designed for white water rapids, so you could still fulfill your sense of adventure.

Where can you do it?

You can do it In lakes, rivers and seas all over the country. You can find information about training courses here.

What do you need to take part?

  • Swimwear or a wetsuit
  • A life vest
  • A kayak or canoe
  • Paddles
  • A helmet and noseplugs for white water rapids

Apart from swimwear, these should all be provided at your training course.

Who would it suit?

Kayaking is loads of fun and a chance for adventure, so if you’re looking to shake things up a bit, it’s perfect for you. It can be done outdoors, so is good for nature lovers, and can be quite relaxing.

What are the benefits?

  • It can help maintain a healthy weight
  • It can increase muscle strength
  • It can increase the strength of your torso and legs
  • It can be very peaceful so can reduce stress
  • It’s a great way to get out into nature
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Published Decem­ber 11th2015
Last updated Sep­tem­ber 21st2018
Tags exercise sport
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