Is Kayaking Safe for Non Swimmers? [7 Tips for Beginners]

Not only you, but almost half of the adults in the United States do not know how to swim or swim appropriately. However, not knowing swimming doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy outdoor pastimes like kayaking, boating, and sailing many more.

If you have an interest in kayaking and are wondering is kayaking safe for non swimmers or not, the short answer is it’s SAFE. It’s a remarkably enjoyable outdoor activity suitable for both swimmers and non-swimmers.

However, as a non-swimmer, you must consider some aspects because the situation can become severe real quick when you are in the water. And by following this article, you can learn how to perform kayaking safely as a non-swimmer.

Is Kayaking Safe for Non-Swimmers?

Is Kayaking Safe for Non-Swimmers

As a non-swimmer, if you’re wondering if it is safe or not, then stop thinking and go kayaking. You have to be determined, courageous, and be aware of proper techniques to paddle kayak as a non-swimmer.

However, you must know some proper techniques and guidelines, and to get some reliable tips and tricks follow the section below. Here we’ve included some top tips for non-swimmers who want to kayak, have a look:

1. Take Basic Kayaking Lessons

Take Basic Kayaking Lessons

First things first, try to take some basic kayaking lessons from any professional, and it’ll help to overcome your fear. You can also get all the basic lessons from the internet, and you’ll find several paid courses as well.

2. Monitor both Water and Weather Conditions

Monitor both Water and Weather Conditions

Before jumping on the kayak, check both weather and water conditions. It’s crucial because as a non-swimmer, you cannot be able to paddle or hold your kayak over fast-moving water.

You can take help from a weather app, and there are many weather apps available. Always make sure the weather is in good condition and there are no possibilities of rain or storm.

3. Double-Check Safety Gear

Double-Check Safety Gear

Not only non-swimmers, everyone needs to wear and double-check the safety gear before paddling. The main safety gear is a life jacket and swimmer and non-swimmer everyone has to wear that.

There’re different types of life jackets, including:

  • Type I
  • Type II
  • Type III
  • Type IV
  • Type V

Among all of them, Type I and Type III are the most popular life jackets for kayaking. The life jacket or PFD will help you float if any incident happens. And along with a life jacket, you can also keep some other essential safety gears like:

  • Paddle Float
  • Lifeguard Whistle
  • Waterproof Rucksack
  • Sprayskirt
  • First Aid Box, etc.

4. Choose a Calm Water Location

Choose a Calm Water Location

As a non-swimmer, you should never go kayaking on rough or deep water surfaces. And the best option would be a nice and calm location such as a lake or slow-moving river or bank.

Whether you are a beginner or pro, if you don’t know swim, stick to clam water to ensure your own safety.

5. Kayak with Family, Friends, or Group

Kayak with Family, Friends, or Group

Here the most important point comes: as a beginner and non-swimmer, you should go kayaking with a group. Never go alone because anything or any incident can happen in a really quick time in the water.

In short, when you go kayaking take someone with you who knows swimming. So that, he or she can help you in any emergency situation.

6. Start with Short and Simple Trips

Start with Short and Simple Trips

It’s always a good idea to start with short and simple trips. Never go too far and in the beginning and try kayaking along the edge of the shoreline in water. Another thing you can do is practice a wet exit and re-entry.

Since you are unable to swim, try to paddle in the low deep water during your first few trips.

7. Relax and Enjoy the Experience

relax and enjoy the experience

Last but not least, once you learn how to kayak as a non-swimmer, it’s time to enjoy your exploring experience. Don’t fear the water and always go kayaking on the low deep water surface. And don’t be panic and always try to relax and if any incident happens you have friends around you.

Where Can Non-Swimmers Go Kayaking?

Where Can Non-Swimmers Go Kayaking

As a non-swimmer, if you wish to go kayaking, you must consider the placement. Although you can go kayaking anywhere, as a beginner or non-swimmer you cannot go just anywhere you want.

You have to choose an appropriate location is essential, and try to choose a calm and slow-moving river or bank. Since a kayak can easily float in shallow water, there is no need to explore or navigate deep water surfaces like the ocean.

Here we have classified two different solutions, which are where to go and where not to, follow the section below:

  • Suitable Place or Surface to Go: If you’re a non-swimmer, then you should start with shallow streams or lakes. As we said earlier, you can also start with a nice, calm, and slow-moving river or bank.
  • Where Not to Go: As a beginner, you should never go kayaking on a deep water kayaking like ocean kayaking. Alongside deep water, you also have to avoid rivers or any other water source with fast movie water.

If you’re a beginner and a non-swimmer, it’s always a good idea to start kayaking on a flat water surface like a lake or slow-moving river.

Will Kayaking Help You Learn to Swim?

If you’re wondering if kayaking will help you learn to swim, then straightforward answer NO and never. Kayaking is an alternative to swimming that allows people to travel on lakes or rivers without getting wet.

So it’s simple that kayaking has nothing to do with swimming. However, kayaking can be effective in dealing with some challenges that can help you to learn to swim faster. When you paddle the kayak, it’ll engage your multiple muscles, including the core, back, and shoulder.

Since paddling engages your muscle, it will make your muscles and strong back and shoulder muscles help you to learn to swim effortlessly.


Kayaking is a safe and great way to have fun, and if you want to feel this excitement, you should go kayaking. It doesn’t matter you know swimming or not; you can go kayaking to explore nature. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about is kayaking safe for non swimmers or not.

Anybody can go kayaking and if you’re a beginner and non-swimmer, follow the above-mentioned steps to enjoy the kayaking. And never, go alone and always try to go kayaking on flat water areas like lakes, and slow-moving rivers or banks. Moreover, never forget to use and check safety gear before going kayaking.