Sit-on-top Sea Kayaks

On a recent trip to Maui and the Big Island, we saw a lot of heavy and slow roto-molded sit-on-top sea kayaks in rental and tour operations.

While these are often stable they are difficult for one person to carry and car-top.

We wondered how cool it would be to have a high performance touring sit-on-top-kayak for tropical waters or our local waters for offshore adventuring or rock gardening.

Here’s a few that would be ideal for the task..

Recreational and Fishing Kayaks

Swell Watercraft from Washington State is the result of a design from the founder of sit-on-tops and Ocean Kayak, Tim Niemier and former Canoe and Kayak publisher, Jim Marsh.

The Scupper 14′ is a fast stable and well designed sit on top for fishing, touring and fun.

The boat has a nice stern hatch, a day hatch in the cockpit and a drainable storage well in the stern. The bow is cut narrow like a surf ski allowing to not hit the boat with your paddle every stroke.

The foot well is lower than most sot’s so you have a normal sitting position which also allows for a powerful stroke.

The Swell also designed efficient easy to manage scupper valves to drain water from the cockpit.


The Vagabond Kayaks are a great option from South Africa. Made in the same facility Epic Kayaks were once made, these solid yet light and smart boats have a few options from singles and doubles to a kids kayak.

The Vagabonds have lots of hatches and ventruli style scuppers to drain water from the cockpit.

Vagabonds come in 1 person, 2 person, a kids kayak and a few other options.  Cool smart colorful boats, a hair bit cheaper than the Scupper for the 1 person.


Sit on Top Fishing Sea Kayaks

The 17′-3″ Stealth Pro-Fisha 525 has a surf ski hull but the stability of a fishing kayak. Equipped with a foot rudder for control and one huge hatch for storing poles and fish, this performance fishing kayak will get you there quick through surf and wind.

The Stealth could double as a sit on top touring kayak.

STEALTH PRO FISHA 525Touring Surf Skis

Surf skis are high performance sit-on-top kayaks. They have a reputation for being tippy which makes them fast. There are a few on the market such as the Carbonology Sport Cruze (pictured) that are 22″ wide (28 lbs) and super stable!

I have two skis I use not only for racing and surfing but they are my choice for day trips, light overnights and touring.

The Carbonology Sport Cruze is an entry level ski that is stable for first time users and has an option for a hatch for storing gear.

The Cruze is a breeze to paddle but still fast and 28lbs (With 2 hatches).

Check out my video showing the Cruze features.

Available from Sit On Top Pros in Bellingham, WA. 

The Cruze can be ordered with a big stern deck hatch! The storage compartment is very generous (to the end) and can set you up for a multi-day trip. There’s also a small day hatch’ in the forward cockpit.

The Cruze also fits my 32″ inseam!  Not so on the V6. The Cruze’s stern hatch and full storage.  




Other Options..

Stellar 18S – 18′ x 20.2″ is another super fast yet stable ski that can be use for racing or touring.  I spoke to the owners who told me my long legs would fit in most of the Stellar boats! (32″ inseam).





Epic V6 – 17’x23″ long, two hatches, rudder and venturi. Rec stability. Comes in two composite weights, Performance: 39lbs, Ultra: 32lbs.

Epic V7 – 17’x21″ in poly only. Not as light as the composite boats. Single hatch, rudder, venturi.

Sit-on-top Sea Kayaks

Mirage Sea Kayaks in Australia have a two sit-on-top sea kayaks which can be used for day trips, open water and overnights.

The Mirage 583 series in carbon is 38.5 pounds at 19′ in length. It comes with a hatch, foot controlled rudder and venturi’s to drain cockpit water when underway.

The Mirage 533 sit-on-top is 17′ and 36 pounds. It has one hatch, a rudder and venturi’s for draining water.

Problem with these boats is no one I can find stocks these in the US.


Check out Sitontoppros.com in Bellingham, WA which carries Swell Scupper, Vagabond, Stealth sit on tops as well as Carbonology surf skis.


About Rob Casey – Named a pioneer in the SUP industry by Stand Up Journal, Rob is the author of “Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers” and “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips.” Rob owns SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle. He also runs several paddling races throughout the year.
Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.



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