skip to Main Content

How To Get Out Of A Kayak

Being out on the water for many is a happy place. It is peaceful, and there are no unwanted interruptions, it is just you, your kayak, and the water. 

Getting into your kayak and getting out of your kayak is the trickier part and depending on where you launch from or return to this simple movement can become quite difficult. 

If you find yourself unsure of how you should get in and out of your kayak then we are here to help! Below we outline the basic techniques that can be applied when launching a kayak and returning a kayak to different locations, such as the beach or a port.

How To Get Out Of A Kayak

The Beach


Launching on the beach is one of the simpler ways of getting out on the water in your kayak. To get in follow the below steps.

  1. Place your kayak perpendicular to the shoreline, the front half of the kayak should be in the water while the back half of your kayak should be on the sand. 
  2. Sit into the kayak.
  3. Once you are seated begin to push the kayak forwards by pushing your oar against the sand. 

If you struggle with this method you can walk out into the water, holding your kayak steady in the water, until the kayak is floating on a couple of inches of water. You can then sit into the kayak and launch off in the water. 

It will be harder to stabilize the kayak when it is floating but after a few efforts, you will master this launch in no time. 


Arriving back on the beach can be intimidating as there may be swimmers in the water or people on the beach. 

While you may imagine everyone is watching you they most likely aren’t. Don’t worry about anyone else and just focus on you and your kayak. Follow the steps below to return to a beach.

  1. Aim your kayak so that it is perpendicular to the shoreline.
  2. Using your oar, steer your kayak into the shoreline until you are beached in the sand. 
  3. Getting out can be a bit more awkward, so we recommend stepping out one foot at a time rather than standing up in the kayak as you may lose balance and fall.  

You can apply these techniques to returning to a ramp and launching from a ramp also but be aware that the ramp may score the bottom of your kayak.

A Dock

Launching and returning to a dock is more difficult and requires patience and balance. 


To launch from a dock follow the below steps:

  1. Set your kayak into the water in an area where you can hold it parallel to the dock and where it is easy to climb into.
  2. Sit on the dock parallel to your kayak. Move your feet, one by one, into the cockpit of the kayak.
  3. Turn your body towards the bow of the kayak and quickly and calmly lower yourself into the kayak from the dock. This maneuver will take time to master and having assistance to steady the boat the first few times will be useful.


To return to a dock follow the below technique.

  1. Using your oar, row your kayak to the lowest point of the dock until your kayak is diagonal beside this low point
  2. Hold onto the dock to steady yourself before standing up in the kayak and climbing onto the dock. The trick is to put your weight on the dock as soon as you can, this will prevent the kayak from becoming unsteady.

A Rocky Or Uneven Shoreline

A Rocky Or Uneven Shoreline

While it is not recommended to launch from or return to a rocky or uneven shoreline, in some cases it cannot be avoided. Below we outline the basic steps that will safely get you in and back out of your kayak.


To launch from an uneven shoreline follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Line your kayak up so that it is parallel to the shoreline and place your oar horizontal across the kayak with half on the shore and half resting on the kayak.
  2. Sit on the shore and place your feet into the kayak. 
  3. Grab hold of the oar from behind as you gently get into the boat. Put your weight on the part of the oar that is on the shore so that it stabilizes you and the kayak.


Returning to a rocky or uneven shoreline can be difficult. Keep your awareness to find a suitable and safe spot to get out of the kayak.

  1. Bring your kayak into the shore in an area where you can get close to the shoreline.
  2. If you can’t get onto the shore at a perpendicular angle, approach the shoreline at a parallel angle. 
  3. Use your oar to balance yourself as you step out from the kayak and onto the shore. Slowly get off the kayak leading with your upper half of the body. If the shoreline is on the same level as the kayak, use the shoreline as a support to keep your balance as you get out.

How To Sit In A Kayak

Now that you know how to get in and out of your kayak safely it is also important to know how to sit in the kayak to ensure you do not lose your balance or suffer from backaches.

Correct posture while paddling should be straightforward and up. This ensures proper paddling technique and allows for maximum power to allow you to travel faster along the water. 

Kayaking without proper posture could lead to injuries or cause you to fall into the water. Kayakers should avoid leaning back when paddling as this can also cause the kayak to capsize.

Proper postures help you to sit comfortably in a kayak. 

Sit back in your seat so that your back is supported by the backrest, keeping your head balanced, and your shoulders lifted. 

Your legs need to be externally rotated with your knee out. Sitting in this position will make it more comfortable to sit up straight. You should take the time to stretch your legs before and after kayaking.

Final Thoughts

Kayaking is a great way of exploring coastlines, lakes, and rivers. To be safe you should wear a lifejacket if you are kayaking in deep water. 

It is also worthwhile learning basic swimming skills so that if your kayak capsizes you can calmly tread water while turning it back the right way and climbing back in. 

The most difficult part of kayaking is the launch and the return so give yourself time to learn and master these techniques and in no time all aspects of kayaking will be a breeze to you.

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

Back To Top