15 Kayaking Games That Are Sure To Impress

Kayaking games are a great way to have fun and practice your paddling skills.  This article will share kayak games that you can enjoy with friends, family, or other groups.

Whether you are new to kayaking or a grizzled veteran, it’s always fun to spice things up a bit. After all, paddling all day can get boring at times.  It’s fun to mix it up and play some games now and then. Kayaking games are also a great ice breaker if you are with a larger group of people.

These kayak games can also help you hone your paddling skills. Some games require precise maneuvering, while others can help you increase speed. Overall, these games are a creative and fun way to learn kayaking and improve your skills.

Many of these games that are traditionally played on land can be great fun in a kayak.

#1 Frisbee

A favorite of parks and backyards everywhere, Frisbee can be played in a kayak too.  There are a lot of variations depending on the number of paddlers.  You can play Frisbee with as few as two people.  With multiple people or teams, the fewest drops wins.

The game is easier the closer together you are or adjust the distance between boats for more challenge. If you have a Frisbee that floats and solid tossing skills, you can play this game for a long time.

#2 Basketball

Okay, basketball does require some additional equipment, like a basket that floats and a ball.  You can pick up a floating basketball net and ball online or in some stores in season.

Basketball is a game you can play alone (not as fun) or with a group of people.  You can set up teams if you have enough paddlers.  Play a fun game, like H-O-R-S-E, where you have to make the same shot as the person before you.

You can even play an actual basketball game, minus the dribbling, if you have enough people.  Be sure to set boundaries and a few rules for the greatest entertainment value.

#3 Capture the flag

A classic game from summer camp can also be played on the water.  The object is to snatch the flag from the other teams’ base and take it back to your base. With the water version, you will need to set up a boundary and agree on a few rules. 

You can set up a series of buoys for the boundary or use points of reference, like a beach or dock. For larger groups, you can set up a more extensive boundary.  You can still enjoy the game with fewer people, buy using a smaller boundary.

For rules, you need to figure out what to do with an opposing player who is caught crossing the boundary in an attempt to steal the flag.  You can either add that player to your team or have that player be “out.” “Catching” an opposing player might be as simple as tapping their kayak with your hand or paddle.

Paddling your way across enemy lines is more challenging than you may think.  Capture the flag is a great way to break the ice with a larger group of people.

#4 Race!

With two or more people, you can race your friends from one point to another.  You can start from the beach and head to a buoy or other point.  You can also race from one dock to another. Pick two points, and whoever gets there first wins.

The goal is to get to the reference point as quickly as possible by traveling in a straight line.  A kayak race is a great way to improve your paddling speed, efficiency, and tracking.

#5 Obstacle course

Paddling your way through an obstacle course is a great way to improve your kayaking skills and work on precision paddling.

To start, set up a course using different obstacles, like buoys, docks, a beach, or other reference points.  Keep track of the number of times you hit the buoys and/or the fastest to complete the course.  You could do this as a team event or individually, depending on the number of people in your group.

#6 Flag football

Playing flag football in a kayak is a very challenging but fun activity.  Of course, you need enough paddlers to make teams, and you can decide on how big the teams are.

You will need to set a boundary, including an end zone or other area, to score points.  But what about the flags? You need a way to “tackle” people.  One idea for flags is to use duct tape on the bow and stern of your boat. 

Strips of duct tape about eight to ten inches long work well.  Fold one end of the tape over about two inches, so the end of the tape sticks to itself.  Then attach the other end to the front and rear of your boat.  If you have the ball and someone pulls your tape, you are down.

The object is to score more points than your opponent by paddling the ball to the end zone.  Kicking field goals will be rather tricky, so you may want to go for it on fourth down LOL.

#7 Tag

Another classic camp or school game is tag.  You probably already know the rules, but here goes. Someone is “it,” and they try to tag someone else and make them “it.”  The object is to NOT be “it.”  This game requires you to paddle fast and accurately to tag other people or paddle fast to get away.

You can tag someone by gently tapping your paddle on their kayak, or if you are close enough, you can use your hand.  

#8 Switch seats

This game is used with a tandem kayak and is best performed with a sit on top kayak.  The object is simple but not easy to perform; switch seats with your partner without falling in the water.  Switch seats is a great summertime game when water and air temperatures are moderate to warm.

If one person falls in the water, that team is out.  Keep playing until you have a winning team.

#9 Stand up challenge

Similar to Switch seats, Stand up challenge is best played using a sit on top kayak.  The goal is simple, stand up on your kayak.  Balance is the key to this game, and your kayak stability plays a role too.  If you fall in the water, you are out.  You can play stand up challenge with as few as two people, but where is the fun in that? The more paddlers, the better.  You can create teams or have an individual winner.

#10 Keep away

This game works best with a beach ball or a similar type of lightweight object that is easy to throw and, importantly, floats.  Depending on how many paddlers you have, you can play this game as one large group or in smaller groups.

The object is to have two more players pass the ball to each other while one player in the middle tries to intercept it.  The middle person can use their paddle to make tossing the ball from one another a lot harder.  The goal is for the person in the middle to intercept the ball. This can happen by intercepting the pass or securing the ball if it lands in the water.

#11 Hockey

Yes, it is possible to play hockey in a kayak, although it does require a bit of ingenuity. You have to want to play this game pretty badly.  Kayak hockey works well with a beach ball and your paddle.  You will need to set up boundaries and a goal.

You can use buoys and rope to build your boundary.  Pool noodles and PVC pipes make a good goal.  Once you are set up, it’s a lot of fun.  You can smack the beach ball around and splash your opponents at the same time.

#12 I spy

The classic guessing game of I spy is entertaining when you are exploring the outdoors.  Depending on the scenery, you can play this game for a long time.  One person calls out an object they see, beginning with a specific letter of the alphabet.

For example, “I spy (with my little eye), something beginning with” and then name a letter. It could be “D” for dock or “S” for shore, etc.  This game may not impress your date, but it can pass the time if you need something to do while you are paddling.

#13 Frisbee golf

You can get creative and set up a Frisbee golf course using things like the shore, a dock, buoys, etc.  Make sure you have a Frisbee that floats, and you can have a lot of fun with this game.  Frisbee golf can be played with teams or individually, depending on the number of people in your group.

This is a great ice breaker for large groups.  You can test your throwing accuracy, and you will also get a pretty good workout chasing your Frisbee around the lake.

#14 Relay Race

You will need multiple people to have a relay race. Different members of a team will take turns completing different parts of a course.  You can set up a course using a dock, buoys, the beach, rock outcrops, or anything else you see fit, and the team that completes the course fastest wins. 

A relay race will help develop paddling efficiency and quick turning skills. You might be out of breath when it’s all over, but you can become a better paddler because of it.

#15 Water guns

A great way to cool down on a warm day is with water guns. One great thing about using water guns when you are kayaking, is that you will never run out of water. There isn’t a whole lot of strategy, just spray the other people in your group, but it’s a lot of fun.


Fun Kayaking GamesPin

Kayaking games are a great way to add some fun to your day on the water. If you have many people, you can use many of these games as an ice breaker.  Also, many of these kayak games can be played with just a few people.

With a little bit of planning and some props, you can improve your paddling skills and have fun along the way!

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.