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Best Kayak For Scuba Diving

Mark Armstrong
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Diving from a kayak can let you explore new underwater areas that are not accessible to larger boats. But when it comes to choosing the best diving kayak there can be a few things to consider.

We’ve scoped out some of the best options on the market today to help you find the right diving kayak. To save you time, our top pick is the Old Town Sportsman Big Water 132 because of its excellent capacity and high level of stability for ocean conditions.

Top 11 Best Kayaks For Diving Reviewed

1: Old Town Sportsman Big Water 132 (best overall)

Old Town Sportsman BigWater 132Pin
  • Length: 13 foot 2 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 86 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 425 pounds

The Old Town Sportsman Big Water 132 is a large fishing kayak that’s built for oceans and open water. This makes it a great kayak for diving in ocean conditions.

This big kayak has a lot of space for diving gear, including a sealed bow hatch for storing your dry bag, and a roomy rear tank well with bungees to secure your scuba tank.

The Sportsman Big Water is a stable kayak with a tri-hull design for optimized stability in a range of waters. The deck features EVA foam padding for added traction for wet feet when you stand up or climb back in.

The breathable, adjustable seat is quick-drying and comfortable, with good support for paddling to and from your dive site.

There is a handy paddle clip on the side of your kayak to keep your paddle safe while you dive. There are also fishing rod holders and accessory tracks for mounting a diver flag.

However, this is a heavy kayak, which could make it tricky to carry if you’re on your own. It’s also pretty pricey.


  • Lots of space
  • Great stability
  • Built for ocean paddling


  • Heavy
  • Expensive

2: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 (runner-up)

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Sit-On-Top Kayak in Breeze Blue colorPin
  • Length: 12 foot
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is a stable kayak that’s designed to handle rivers, lakes, and oceans. So it can be an ideal choice for diving in various locations.

This is a narrower kayak than some but this means it can be a faster and more efficient kayak. It’s easy to paddle and features a comfortable Phase 3 AirPro seating system with three points of adjustability for tailored support and comfort. The seat also benefits from having honeycomb-vented fabric for breathability.

There is room for scuba gear, with a spacious tank well at the stern. It has a removable mesh cover to keep your scuba tank secure. You’ll also find a large dry hatch at the bow.

There’s a Quick Park paddle holder, a removable dry box, accessory tracks, and a magnetic water bottle holder.

A downside of this boat is that it doesn’t have rod holders, which could be an issue if you were looking to mount a rod holder-style flag.

> Full Tarpon 120 review


  • Efficient hull design
  • Excellent storage for scuba gear
  • Comfortable seating system


  • No rod holders

3: BOTE Zeppelin Aero Classic Inflatable Tandem (most buoyant)

BOTE Zeppelin Aero Classic Inflatable Tandem KayakPin
  • Length: 12 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 38 inches
  • Weight: 50 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 600 pounds

This BOTE Zeppelin Aero Classic Inflatable is an incredibly buoyant tandem kayak with a high capacity. It features inflatable Aero seats which let you sit slightly elevated off the deck for improved visibility, comfort, and a drier ride.

This can be paddled by either one or two people. It has a flat deck with plenty of space for scuba gear and room for standing.

The deck features drop-stitch PVC for a rigid feel and added stability. It also benefits from having bungee rigging at the front for securing diving gear to the kayak.

You’ll find slide-in Rac receivers that work with Rac-compatible accessories similar to gear tracks on a hard shell kayak. It also has MagnaPod magnetic surfaces for compatible accessories.

For improved tracking, there’s a 6-inch center skeg and two side fins. This can be folded down and packs into itself to become a backpack. The Bote Zeppelin can be a good choice if you’re short on space at home or if you want to hike to remote diving launches.

However, it doesn’t include paddle holders as standard.


  • Excellent capacity
  • Flat, spacious deck
  • Elevated inflatable seats


  • No paddle holders

4: Sea Eagle 350FX Fishing Explorer (best inflatable)

Sea Eagle 350FX Fishing ExplorerPin
  • Length: 11 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 39 inches
  • Depth: 11.5 inches
  • Weight: 50 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 575 pounds

The Sea Eagle 350FX is an inflatable fishing kayak with a generous capacity and a high level of durability. It can be ideal for scuba diving in a range of conditions, with the capability of handling up to Class IV rapids. It’s also compatible with an electric trolling motor (sold separately).

This inflatable kayak features six rod holders, giving you plenty of options for flag poles or fishing rods if you want to do a little fishing too.

The deck is flat and spacious, with a drop-stitch floor and non-slip padding. There are several D-rings and attachment points for securing diving gear.

This kayak is designed to be set up easily and quickly, with an inflation time of 7 minutes. This means you can be on the water fast without having to think about roof racks for transportation.

It has three air chambers for safety and buoyancy. And it comes with a pump, bag, paddle, and repair kit. The type of seat that’s included will vary with the package you choose.

The only downside is that despite its portability and compact size for storage, it’s not the lightest kayak. And the carrying bag included is not a backpack so it could be difficult to hike with.


  • Excellent stability
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Paddle included


  • Packed kayak is not easy to carry long distances

5: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 (best budget)

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100Pin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 31 inches
  • Depth: 14 inches
  • Weight: 51 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 275 pounds

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a great budget-friendly kayak that can be ideal for diving as well as fishing and recreational paddling. It has a spacious deck with plenty of space for diving equipment. It even has two 6-inch storage hatches so you can keep smaller items below deck.

It has two flush-mount rod holders for easy flag mounting. You’ll also find front and rear storage areas for larger gear with bungees to tie-down loose items.

There are molded footrests for paddling support and an adjustable backrest with padding for comfort. However, the seat is not the most comfortable if you plan on paddling for a long time.

This is a stable kayak but it can be best for calm water. There’s a bungee paddle keeper to stow your paddle when you dive. It also has self-bailing scupper holes and water bottle holders.

> Our full Tamarack Angler 100 review


  • Budget kayak
  • Rod holders
  • Spacious deck


  • Seat isn’t great

6: Perception Hi Life 11.0

Perception Hi Life 11.0 Sit On Top KayakPin
  • Length: 11 foot
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 55 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 280 pounds

This Perception Hi Life is a hybrid vessel that combines the best features of a paddle board with the comfort of a kayak.

This can be an ideal choice for diving as it’s designed to be easy to get back on from the water. It has a swim deck at the back which is lowered for easy entry.

Another great feature of this kayak is the deck padding. Similar to a SUP, the deck features cushioning for comfort and traction when standing, whether you’re in bare feet or swim fins.

A nice feature of this kayak is the under-seat cooler recess which can be used to store gear. There’s also a storage deck at the bow with bungees to keep your items secure. However, there is no dedicated rear storage area and no dry storage.

The gear track along the center of the deck can be great for mounting accessories such as diving flags (sold separately).

The elevated seating system features thick padding for comfort and the backrest conveniently folds down when not in use.


  • Swim-up deck
  • Cushioned, padded deck
  • Accessory track


  • No dry storage

7: BKC UH-RA220 Angler Kayak

BKC UH-RA220 11.5 Angler KayakPin
  • Length: 11 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 68 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 550 pounds

This BKC UH-220 is a fishing kayak that offers great value as it comes complete with a paddle and a rudder system. This can make it an ideal choice for new paddlers and if you’re looking for a kayak that can handle open water.

This stable kayak is designed to handle a range of waters, including rivers and oceans. It’s not the lightest kayak which could make it more difficult to carry or car-top.

It’s easy to paddle and has plenty of space for diving equipment. There’s a large rear tank well, plus three watertight storage hatches. There are also accessory tracks for mounting gadgets and flags.

The adjustable foot braces and the elevated seat add comfort for longer trips. There are also flush-mounted rod holders and paddle keepers.

One of the great features of this kayak is its generous capacity. This can make it suitable for carrying heavy scuba equipment.


  • Excellent storage
  • Paddle included
  • Rudder system


  • Not the easiest to carry on your own

8: Ocean Kayak Tetra 12

Ocean Kayak Tetra 12 in Surf colorPin
  • Length: 12 foot 1 inch
  • Width: 28 inches
  • Depth: 9 inches
  • Weight: 51 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

The Ocean Kayak Tetra 12 can be a fantastic diving kayak as it has lots of space for gear. The rear tank well is roomy and features bungee rigging to secure your scuba tank to the deck.

There is a large oval bow hatch that can be perfect for storing dry bags or other items that you want to be kept safe below deck.

It has an easy-to-use paddle holder with a pull-tab for securing and releasing the bungee. It also features a Comfort Hybrid seat with lumbar support.

This is a low-profile kayak that can be easy to re-enter from the water and easier to swing your legs over the side when entering the water.

It’s pretty lightweight for its size, with molded side carry handles and bow and stern toggle handles for easy carrying and lifting.

It’s a stable craft but it’s narrow for its length, which might put new paddlers off. But experienced paddlers should find that it’s quicker over the water than some others.


  • Great storage space
  • Low-profile sides
  • Efficient over the water


  • May be too narrow for some

9: Perception Pescador Pro 12.0

Perception Pescador 12.0 Pro Fishing KayakPin
  • Length: 12 foot
  • Width: 32.5 inches
  • Weight: 64 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 375 pounds

The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is designed primarily for fishing but it can be just as great as a scuba diving kayak.

This is a spacious kayak that has lots of room for equipment, including space for an oxygen tank in the rear cargo deck. There’s also a second cargo area at the bow with a mesh cover, and a center storage console for smaller items.

This is designed to be easy to paddle, with good tracking and excellent stability. It has rod holders and gear tracks for easily adding accessories.

The elevated mesh seat features upright and recline positions, allowing you to easily adjust between the two while you’re on the water. The seat can also be removed.

There’s also a paddle park to keep your paddle safely stowed while you’re beneath the surface.

> Read the full Pescador Pro 12 review


  • Ample storage space
  • Removable seat
  • Tracks well


  • No dry storage hatches

10: Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 Kayak in Seaglass colorPin
  • Length: 11 foot 5 inches
  • Width: 31 inches
  • Weight: 61 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 360 pounds

The Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 can be a great kayak for both diving and recreational paddling. This bright kayak is designed to be easy to paddle, with a good combination of both primary and secondary stability. Its hull is built to handle the surf.

The Malibu has decent storage space, with a large rear tank well plus a smaller tank well at the bow – both with bungees to secure your gear.

The molded foot wells have the added benefit of calf rests for improved comfort and leg support. It has an AirGo molded seat with an AirGo seat pad and an adjustable AirComfort backrest for support and comfort.

You’ll find a center hatch in front of the seat to keep smaller belongings dry. And there’s molded-in paddle rests to hold your paddle. However, the paddle rests may not be sufficient if you’re diving. You might want to secure your paddle with a paddle leash (not included).


  • Comfortable kayak
  • Spacious storage areas
  • Great for ocean diving


  • Paddle holder is not the most secure

11: Lifetime Yukon Angler 116

Lifetime Yukon Angler 116Pin
  • Length: 11 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 32 inches
  • Depth: 12.8 inches
  • Weight: 78 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

The Lifetime Yukon Angler is a relatively compact kayak that’s designed primarily for fishing. It offers great value, with plenty of features and an affordable price tag.

One of its top features is the high level of stability. It has a tri-form hull that can be ideal for diving, with good primary and secondary stability. It’s also stable enough for standing.

Another nice feature of this kayak is the open deck area, with lots of flat space for standing or moving around. The deck is also reinforced with foam for increased buoyancy and strength.

There’s ample room for your diving gear, with a spacious rear tankwell with bungees and a water-resistant oval bow hatch. There are gear tracks for mounting accessories or flag poles, and flush-mount rod holders.

It also has an adjustable framed seat, adjustable foot braces, and easy-to-use carry handles. However, this is a pretty heavy kayak considering its size. But it has a wheel in the skeg to make it a little easier to haul.


  • Very stable
  • Spacious deck
  • Good storage


  • Very heavy

Why Go Diving From A Kayak?

Access Remote Dive Sites

Diving from a kayak means you can access less accessible dive sites. Some reefs and shipwreck sites can be inaccessible to larger boats because of the surrounding shallows or narrow entry points.

A kayak can give you access to shallower zones, such as the areas closer to the shore.

Closer To Nature

Kayaking to a dive site can let you get closer to nature, as you can paddle through the water, with the ocean within touching distance. This can also be a great way to view wildlife and the underwater ecosystem.

While you might not have as much room on a kayak as you do on a larger boat, you can still fit everything you need for diving on the deck of a kayak.

Sit-on-top kayaks are also quick and easy to get on and off when you want as the seat is closer to the ocean.

Better For The Environment

Kayaking doesn’t use any fuel since you use your arm power (or feet in the case of a pedal kayak) to propel yourself to the dive site. This can make it more environmentally-friendly than jumping on a gas-guzzling charter boat.

Using paddle power also means you’re less likely to run into technical or mechanical difficulties, such as engine failure or an empty fuel tank.

As well as being good for the environment, it can also be a good workout for your whole body.

How To Dive From A Kayak Safely?

Use Safety Flags

Safety flags can be a vital piece of equipment for diving from a kayak. A dive flag, or diver down flag, can let other water users (particularly larger boats) know that you’re below the surface.

A diver down flag is a rectangular red flag with a diagonal white stripe across it. In some locations, scuba flags can be blue and white alpha flags. Alpha flags are generally used in international waters. If you’re in doubt, you could always use both flags to be safe.

You can also use a diver down float in addition to the flag on your kayak. The float would be tethered to you which can be beneficial for extra safety if you plan to drift from your moored kayak.

Because your kayak is more low-profile than some other boats on the water, a kayak safety flag can be a good idea to use while you’re paddling out to the dive site. Kayak flags tend to be orange for visibility and either triangular or rectangular in shape.

You can mount your flags to flush-mount rod holders on your kayak. You can also make use of gear tracks on your vessel. 

Prepare Your Gear Beforehand

You won’t have as much room on a kayak compared to a larger dive boat, so it can be a good idea to make sure all your equipment is assembled and ready to go before you load it.

Keep all of your scuba gear stored in the order that you’ll put it on, so that you don’t have to root around for items when you reach your diving location.

Secure Your Gear

Making sure all of your equipment is safely secured on your kayak before you leave the shore and again before you dive can be important. All of your equipment, such as fins, snorkel, tank, should be tethered to the kayak or stored inside a hatch.

Before you dive down, remember to tether your paddle to the deck of your kayak, along with any loose gear that you’re leaving above deck.

Use An Anchor

A kayak anchor is an important accessory to have when diving as it can help to prevent your kayak from drifting away from your dive site.

Make sure you tether yourself to the kayak before you dive, so that you can easily find your way back to your boat. This way your kayak will move along with you if you drift dive.

Kayak Features That Make Them Great For Diving From

Storage Space

Having enough storage space for all of your scuba diving equipment can be a key feature on a diving kayak. Most kayaks generally offer a decent amount of storage space. However, they’re not all the same.

A rear cargo deck can be an essential feature to have on a diving kayak, as this can provide the ideal storage area for your scuba tank. Most rear tank wells have bungee rigging and this can be a useful feature as it can let you secure your tank and other loose items to the deck.

Storage hatches can be beneficial for storing smaller items below deck and providing a space to keep items dry. Not all storage hatches are waterproof so you may want to consider using dry bags as well.

Dry bags can be essential if your kayak doesn’t have any storage hatches.

Storage space for accessories can also be a good feature to look for. Gear tracks can be great for mounting electronics and safety flags. Fishing rod holders can also be useful for some dive flags.


Diving gear isn’t the lightest equipment to carry. So it can be important to check that your kayak has sufficient weight capacity to carry you plus all your gear.

Inflatable kayaks may have a higher capacity than hard shell kayaks of a comparable size.

Easy Entry

A sit-on-top kayak can be easier to get in and out of than a sit-inside kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks have open decks and open cockpits rather than enclosed cockpits found on sit-inside kayaks.

This means you can often just swing your legs over the side of your kayak to jump off into the water. Getting back on might not be as easy as that but it can be relatively pain-free.

Video: Kayak Scuba Diving: Removing Kayak Scuba Diving Gear


Stability can be very important in a dive kayak, as you’re likely to be moving around a little more than a casual paddler. This is where fishing kayaks can come in handy.

Fishing kayaks tend to be built more for stability than speed. This can be ideal for a diving kayak, as you’ll probably want as much stability as you can get – especially when you’re trying to climb back into your seat.

Kayaks that have a tri-hull design can offer excellent stability and can be good on both flatwater and ocean waves.

Some kayaks are also designed to allow you to stand up on the deck, which can be a great feature to look for, as you can move around the deck more easily when organizing dive equipment.

Flat Deck

A flat deck can be more convenient for standing. It can also give you more room to organize your gear. Many angler kayaks have a standing platform which can be useful, as this often has non-slip padding to provide extra traction for your feet.

Diving Kayaks FAQs:

Can You Go Snorkeling From A Kayak?

Yes, you can. Kayaks can be perfect boats to take you to more inaccessible snorkeling sites.

Do I Need A Kayak Anchor?

Yes, you will likley need a kayak anchor so that your kayak doesn’t drift away while you’re diving.

Are Inflatable Kayaks OK To Dive From?

Yes, inflatable kayaks can be good to dive from as they often have a higher capacity for equipment than a hard shell kayak of a similar size.

Can You Spearfish From A Kayak?

Yes, you can spearfish from a kayak, as long as you have plenty of room and sufficient storage for your gear.

So, To Wrap Up…

We think the best diving kayak out there is the Old Town Sportsman Big Water 132. It has plenty of space for scuba equipment, as well as a high capacity for heavy gear. It’s also built for ocean waters, so it can offer exceptional stability.

Another great choice is our runner-up pick, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. This offers a fantastic amount of space, with a large rear tank well and a large storage hatch. It’s also very stable in ocean conditions.

Remember to think about your specific diving requirements when choosing the best diving kayak, as our favorites may not be suitable for every diver or every paddler.

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