Why We Use Tandem Kayaks

June 23, 2016

Many times when people call or email about our San Juan Island kayak tours they ask about what kayak we use. Some are often surprised we use tandem sea kayaks. It is true we do not offer single kayaks to any of our guests on our kayak tours. The question we often get is, Why?

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First off lets start with the stability and comfort of a tandem sea kayak. Being a much larger kayak than a single person kayak the stability of the boat is much greater. In choppy seas even novice paddlers can manage the stability of the kayaks. Being a larger kayak the cockpit area can easily accommodate a variety of sized people, very important to our operation. The larger cockpit area also allows for a much more substantial seat that provides more back support.

As a commercial kayak company we deal with a diverse range of skill levels and need to select the tool (kayak) that will best complete the job comfortably and safely. Using tandem kayaks we are able to take a wider range of guests on the water no matter their skill level.

The tandem kayaks help with the overall management of groups on the water. When we have strong currents or strong winds that can work against us it is helpful having two paddlers in one kayak. We recognize experienced paddlers with multi day kayak tours san juan islandpractice in strong currents could make their way without a problem. We have to plan for the entire group that may have only been in a kayak a few times or never before. So you might be thinking why not offer single and tandem kayaks? The easy answer is group management. Not having a true assessment of each paddlers skill level prior to the tour we have one of two issues. First being a guest being completely under skilled and cannot keep up with the group or properly manage the kayak in a safe manner. Second being a guest being completely capable and not wanting to travel with the group of the pace feels to slow. A guides responsibility is to maintain the groups safety and overall control of the group. Experience has show us that operating with singles and tandem kayak together with a diverse group the overall flow and group management is more difficult. Therefore as the owner I choose to keep the kayaks unified to one type of vessel for overall safety and widen the rage of my client base.

On multi day kayak tours tandem kayak are amazing. We are able to bring all the luxuries to the field for cooking, sleeping and a few extra beverages for around the camp fire. With long days on the water guests are comfortable and enjoy the extra push or a second person when paddling loaded kayaks.

So what tandem kayak do we use? We use the Current Design Libra XT, a sea going fiberglass kayak. At over 21 feet with a nice wide beam, the kayak travels efficiently through calm and rough waters. The larger beam provides a secure and stable feeling for paddling in rougher conditions. Large bow, stern and center hatches make it perfect of multi day kayaking tours.


So the best reason I can give for using tandem sea kayaks is safety, comfort, stability and ease of use. We have selected the highest of quality American made kayaks. So when looking at reserving a kayak tour on San Juan Island do not be surprised that all outfitters on the island use tandem kayaks. And when reserving your kayak tour with Discovery Sea Kayaks know you are getting a quality fiberglass kayak made in the USA.

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Questions or comments? Phone us at or send an email to [email protected]. You can also visit our contact page and submit an inquiry via our contact form.