Is paddle boarding or kayaking harder?

Both kayaking and paddle boarding are brilliant paddle sports that allow you to get outdoors and experience some stunning scenery up close, and also provide you with a stimulating workout. You may be asking, which one should I choose to focus on, or which of the two is harder? Whilst it may seem like kayaking is less effort, because you are sitting down, in many ways kayaking is more strenuous of the two and harder to get used to the technique that it requires.

What Makes Paddle Boarding Easier than Kayaking?

The main reason that paddle boarding is easier than kayaking is the learning curve for picking up the basic technique of both sports.

Getting on a paddle board

Boarding the paddle board and kayak is the first stage of any experience that you will be having, so it is an important stage to take into consideration when comparing the two watersports. Due to its largely flat surface, paddleboards are much easier to board because you just have to get on top of it, whereas getting in and out of kayaks can be tricky, because most of them you have to sit in them and get your legs to fit inside its snug cockpit.

Falling in the water

Another factor to take into consideration which is linked to boarding, is getting back onboard your kayak or paddle board after falling into the water. Falling into the water is part of both sports and you are unlikely to avoid it. A paddle board is much easier to get back on, as you just need to grab hold of the board and slide your body back onto it. Whereas a kayak requires you to make sure it is the right way up, grasp the kayak’s cockpit rim and then swing your legs over the rim and into the cockpit, then emptying it of any water.


After you have boarded either your kayak or your paddle board, the key part of both sports begins. How hard it is to paddle, traverse the water and how stable it is to use are key questions that you will deal with either of them. As you are sitting down in a kayak, it is understandable to think that it would be more stable due to your lower centre of gravity, however that is not necessarily the case. You can reduce your centre of gravity on a paddle board by kneeling down rather than standing up, and this is definitely a technique that many people use when you are just starting so you can get used to the paddle board and its movements. So they can be essentially equal in stability, it just depends on your preference.


When it comes to navigation, paddle boarding does have an advantage due to your raised position when you are standing up. You have a much greater field of vision meaning it can be easier to plan your route and identify obstacles.

Round up

There are then the differences in what sort of fitness you need to be able to do both sports. Paddle boarding is less intensive, so it can be said requires a lower level of athletic ability and overall fitness. The paddling techniques for both are very different. Kayaks use dual ended paddles, whereas paddle boards like canoes use a single ended paddle that has a handle.

The paddling motions also work differently, with paddling on a board being an action that uses muscle groups from across the whole body, whereas kayaking does exercise many muscle groups but specifically requires stamina in your arms and shoulders, and this can be extremely tiring for beginners.

Hopefully this article helps you understand some of the nuances between kayaking and paddleboarding, and why for someone who has no experience with either, paddle boarding is often easier.

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