Best Kayak Rentals

Lake Powell is the best overall kayak rental

Female kayaking in the river


Charlie Munsey / Getty Images

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The Rundown

Kayaking means different things to different people: the thrill of navigating advanced whitewater, perhaps, or the serenity of paddling quietly amid the astonishing scenery of some of the country’s wildest places. Kayak rentals give you the freedom to try all the variations of the sport in as many different locations as you like, without any of the expense of owning or transporting a kayak of your own. Here we rounded up the best kayak rental companies.

Our Top Picks

01 of 08

Best on Lake Powell: Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks

Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks

Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks

Why We Chose It: We chose Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks for its status as the first and most highly reviewed kayak rental shop on the lake. 

Pros
  • Daily and multi-day rentals available

  • Sit-on-top kayak rentals include delivery to Antelope Point boat ramp

  • Also offers daily Lake Powell kayak tours

Cons
  • Rentals exclude National Park entrance fee

  • Inflatable kayak rentals do not include delivery

  • If you're under 18, you can only rent with parent or guardian’s consent

Located in downtown Page, AZ, family-owned Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks bills itself as the lake’s original paddlesports shop. Since 2013, the company has been offering kayak, SUP, and packraft rentals to explore the area’s world-famous red rock scenery. Kayaks are all high-quality, name-brand models of the sit-on-top or inflatable variety. Prices start from about $55 per day for a single, sit-on-top kayak, with doubles and multi-day discounts also available. 

All rentals come with paddles and lifejackets at no extra charge, while sit-on-top kayaks include delivery to the Antelope Point public boat ramp for easy access to the lake’s iconic Antelope Canyon. New to kayaking or simply want to benefit from the expert knowledge of the company’s certified guides? Book one of their daily Lake Powell kayaking tours.

02 of 08

Best on the Colorado River: Kayak the Colorado

Kayak the Colorado

Kayak the Colorado

Why We Chose It: Kayak the Colorado stood out for its proximity to Horseshoe Bend, its near-perfect customer reviews, and its different kayak types. 

Pros
  • Wide range of single and tandem kayaks

  • Rates are the same regardless of kayak type

  • Backhaul jet boat service offered

Cons
  • No multi-day discount available

  • No tours except for guided fishing trips

  • Jet boat service costs extra

Arizonans are spoiled for choice when it comes to world-class kayaking, with Kayak the Colorado taking the top spot for Colorado River rentals. Located in Marble Canyon near spectacular Horseshoe Bend, the company is known for its affordable rates and excellent customer service. Rental options include sit-on-top and inflatable kayaks (recommended for use between April and October) and sit-in kayaks (for year-round use). 

All kayak types come in single or tandem format and cost about $30 per day for singles and roughly $45 per day for tandems. You can rent yours for up to three days total. Kayak the Colorado also offers a range of other rentals, including stand-up paddleboards and a 10-foot paddleboat perfect for families. Consider paying about an additional $75 per person for the backhaul jet boat service, which transports you upstream beyond Horseshoe Bend for a leisurely paddle back to Lee’s Ferry.

03 of 08

Best in Monterey Bay: Monterey Bay Kayaks

Monterey Bay Kayaks

Monterey Bay Kayaks

Why We Chose It: A broad range of rental options and an environmentally friendly approach to local wildlife make Monterey Bay Kayaks our top choice in the Monterey Bay area. 

Pros
  • Rates include all equipment and a safety orientation

  • Specialized fishing kayaks available

  • Driveaway rentals and monthly passes also offered

Cons
  • Rates are more expensive than other companies on this list

  • Driveaway rentals require own roof racks and straps

  • $600 damage deposit required for driveaway rentals

For wildlife enthusiasts, California’s Monterey Bay is one of the country’s most rewarding kayaking destinations with sightings of sea otters, sea lions, seals, and dolphins a common occurrence. Monterey Bay Kayaks is proud to be a Certified Wildlife Steward and offers eco-conscious kayak rentals, tours, and sea kayaking classes from two locations: one in Monterey and the other on Elkhorn Slough estuary. 

Sit-on-top kayaks are available for a four-hour rental period and cost about $45 for a single or roughly $70 for a tandem. Rates include paddles, leashes, life vests, and optional wetsuits and/or splash jackets. You’ll receive a safety orientation and an introduction to the marine sanctuary and its wildlife as well. Monterey Bay Kayaks also offers specialized single fishing kayaks (about $65 per day), driveway rentals (from roughly $100 for 24 hours), and a monthly Fitness Paddling Pass (around $125 per person for unlimited sessions). 

04 of 08

Best in the San Juan Islands: San Juan Outfitters

San Juan Outfitters

San Juan Outfitters

Why We Chose It: We picked San Juan Outfitters as our favorite rental company for its commitment to sustainability and unique kayak tours. 

Pros
  • All ages welcome provided child can fit into provided lifejacket

  • Guided kayak tours ranging from three hours to six days

  • Percentage of profits donated to marine conservation

Cons
  • Sit-on-top kayak rentals available from Roche Harbor only

  • Independent sea kayak rentals only available for certified pros

  • Multi-day independent rentals not offered

Washington’s San Juan Islands are a sea kayaker’s paradise, and San Juan Outfitters is renowned for offering some of the best sea kayaking tours in the area. The company operates out of Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor and sells guided tours ranging from three hours to six days; kayak and fly packages; and bioluminescent kayak tours. All tours utilize top-of-the-line, fiberglass sea kayaks made in Seattle. 

Due to the potentially dangerous waters around San Juan Island, independent sea kayak rentals are only offered to outdoor professionals with an American Canoe Association (ACA)/British Canoeing 4-star certification (BCU) or higher. However, the Roche Harbor location offers independent sit-on-top kayak rentals from mid-May to early September. Prices range from about $25 per hour for a single kayak to roughly $30 per hour for a tandem kayak, and if you rent for three hours, you will get the fourth free. 

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best on the Rainbow River: Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak

Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak

Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak

Why We Chose It: Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak stands out because of its excellent staff and position at the confluence of two fantastic kayaking rivers. 

Pros
  • Choice of two rivers to float down

  • Well-maintained, brand-name kayaks

  • Advance reservations qualify for 10% discount

Cons
  • No option for rentals shorter than a full day

  • No overnight or multi-day rentals

  • Additional put-in fee for Rainbow River floats

Conveniently located at the confluence of the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers, Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak gives you the option to explore either of these very different, but equally beautiful rivers. A park and ride shuttle service departs every hour, giving you direct access to the top of the stream so you can float peacefully back down (this is offered to those with their own kayaks and canoes, as well).

The company stocks sit-in kayaks, sit-on kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards by respected brands like Old Town and Ocean. Rates depend on the river. For Rainbow River floats, expect to pay about $43 for a single kayak and roughly $59 for a tandem kayak. Withlacoochee floats are slightly more expensive at around $49 for a single and $65 for a tandem. All rentals are full day, and a 10% discount is applied for reservations made 24 hours in advance. 

06 of 08

Best in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area: Sawtooth Outfitters

Sawtooth Outfitters

Sawtooth Outfitters

Why We Chose It: We chose Sawtooth Outfitters as the best rental option in the BWCA because of its full range of services including camping gear rentals, trip planning, and guided tours. 

Pros
  • Sit-in and sea kayaks available

  • Camping gear available for multi-day adventures

  • Trip planning and guided tours also offered

Cons
  • Rentals are for a calendar day, not 24 hours

  • No information on rates for multi-day rentals

  • Certification required for sea kayak rental isn’t stipulated

Sawtooth Outfitters is ideally located for exploring the BWCA and the north shore of Lake Superior in Tofte, MN. The company offers rentals for every kind of adventure in this remote wilderness area, including backcountry camping, mountain biking, skiing, canoeing, and kayaking. Kayak rentals include single and tandem sit-in kayaks (from about $30 per day) and sea kayaks (from roughly $32 for a half-day). 

Sit-in kayak rentals include a paddle, lifejacket, and car-top carrier. Sea kayaks are only rented to those with sufficient experience to meet the challenges of often unpredictable Lake Superior and include a spray skirt, wetsuit, paddle float, and pump in addition to the other items included with a standard rental. Sawtooth Outfitters can help with customized planning for your backcountry adventure and also offer half- and full-day kayaking and canoe tours accompanied by expert guides. 

07 of 08

Best in Glacier Bay: Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks

Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks

Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks

Why We Chose It: Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks stands out for its location within the national park and its ability to organize guided and unguided kayak experiences. 

What We Like
  • Successfully in operation since 1978

  • No limit to your rental period

  • Discounted rate applies after 10 days

What We Don’t Like
  • Rentals not offered to solo kayakers

  • Rubber boots and rain gear charged extra

  • Only one style of kayak available

Part of a concession in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks has been offering kayak rentals for independent backcountry adventures since 1978. Kayaks are single or tandem fiberglass sea touring kayaks, available for about $65 per day (single) or roughly $75 per day (tandem). Discounted rates apply from the 10th day onwards, and there is no limit to how long you can rent your kayak. 

All rentals include paddling vests, paddles, paddle floats, spray skirts, pumps, and sponges. You can pay extra to rent rubber boots and rain gear as well. In addition to renting the kayaks, the company arranges your transportation to the backcountry and can make air taxi and lodging reservations. It also offers guided and unguided Bartlett Cove day trips, and guided backcountry and citizen science trips. Kayak instruction programs are offered three times a day, at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m.

08 of 08

Best in Kaneohe Bay: Kailua Beach Adventures

Kailua Beach Adventures

Kailua Beach Adventures

Why We Chose It: Five-star reviews, a well-appointed base, and a great range of guided and self-guided tours make Kailua Beach Adventures our favorite pick near Kaneohe Bay. 

Pros
  • Single, double, and triple kayaks available

  • Guided and self-guided tours offered

  • Rentals are available from half a day to one month

Cons
  • Rates are relatively expensive compared to others on this list

  • Island landing permits unavailable on Sunday

  • One of the biggest attractions, The Sandbar, is often concealed at high tide

Kailua Beach Adventures is located in Kailua, just around the headland from idyllic Kaneohe Bay with its crystalline waters, offshore islands, and abundant marine life. The shop offers single, double, and triple sit-on-top kayaks for anything from a half-day (from about $59) to a full month (from roughly $435). Triple kayaks are designed for two adults and one to two children, for a total weight of up to 450 pounds. 

All rentals include a complimentary roof rack for transporting your kayak wherever you want to go. You can also opt to pay extra for a dry bag, snorkeling gear, or cooler; or join a guided or self-guided kayak tour. We particularly like the latter, which includes an itinerary and video briefing, snorkel gear, a packed lunch, and your kayak for just about $99 per adult and roughly $89 per child. Back at the shop, you can take advantage of free parking, showers, and paid locker rentals. 

Final Verdict

Because kayak rental companies typically focus on one location, we decided to highlight our favorite options in America’s most rewarding kayaking destinations. If you're looking for the best West Coast services, Monterey Bay Kayaks in Monterey, San Juan Outfitters in the San Juan Islands, and Kailua Beach Adventures in Kaneohe Bay. Should a trip to Arizona be ideal, Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks on Lake Powell and Kayak the Colorado River on the Colorado River are great options. Want to head down south? Rainbow River Canoe, and Kayak on the Rainbow River and Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks in Glacier Bay could be perfect. If you're looking for a Midwest jaunt, Sawtooth Outfitters in the BWCA is a solid destination.

Compare Providers

Company Locations Rental Periods Cost Renter Requirements
Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks Best on Lake Powell Page, AZ Daily or multi-day From $55 per day for a single kayak Valid ID and credit card; paddlers under 18 must have a parent or guardian present to sign a waiver 
Kayak the Colorado Best on the Colorado River Marble Canyon, AZ One to three days From $30 per day for a single kayak None stipulated
Monterey Bay Kayaks Best in Monterey Bay Monterey and Elkhorn Slough, CA Four to 24 hours  From $35 for a four-hour session on a single kayak Must be a good swimmer, weight limit of 250 pounds per person, children aged 5–12 must be in a tandem kayak with an adult
San Juan Outfitters Best in the San Juan Islands Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor, WA One hour to six days From $25 per hour for a single kayak Independent sea kayak rentals only offered to outdoor professionals with ACA/BCU 4-star certification or higher
Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak Best on the Rainbow River Dunnellon, FL Full day From $43 per day for a single kayak All paddlers must sign a liability release form 
Sawtooth Outfitters Best in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Tofte, MN Daily (sit-in kayaks), half-day and full-day (sea kayaks) From $30 per day for a single kayak Proof of experience required for sea kayak rentals (exact certification not stipulated)
Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks Best in Glacier Bay Gustavus, AK Daily and multi-day  From $65 per day for a single canoe, but discounts available depending on rental length No solo paddlers; must have a companion for safety reasons
Kailua Beach Adventures Best on Kaneohe Bay Kailua, HI From half day up to one month From $59 for a single kayak for half a day All ages are welcome but must be able to swim and weigh at least 30 pounds. Life vests must be worn at all times. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Kayak Rentals Work?

To rent a kayak, simply choose the type of kayak you want and how long you want it for, make a reservation with the relevant company, then collect it and use it as your own for the duration of your rental period. 

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Kayak for a Day?

Daily rates depend on a lot of factors including the company you rent from, the location, and the type and size of kayak you choose. However, roughly $40 to $50 is a good ballpark budget for a daily kayak rental. 

Are Kayak Rentals Safe?

Rentals are safe if you observe the rental company’s rules and restrictions and pay attention during your orientation session. Standard kayak rentals are so safe they are offered to complete beginners; however, some experience and often a certification is required to rent a sea kayak. 

How We Chose the Best Kayak Rentals

First, we selected eight of the best kayak rentals in the country’s top kayaking destinations by researching multiple write-ups in respected kayaking publications. Next, we compared the available providers in each area by price, the variety of kayaks and rental periods offered, and customer reviews of service and gear maintenance. Some, like Adventures by the Sea in Monterey Bay and San Juan Kayak Expeditions, lost out on the top spot because they offered fewer rental options, but were nevertheless worthy runners-up.

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