night kayaking

Night Kayaking: An Upper-Level Kayaking

The majority of the kayaker choose daytime to kayak, but night kayaking can be a different fun activity that could bring you and your mind to an upper level. Especially if you do night kayaking under the full moon, you will lose yourself in a paradise of natural beauty. 

Night kayaking can be fun, different, or scary. If you are a beginner in kayaking and did not do kayaking in the daytime, kayaking at night could be scary for you.

Obviously, it will be an excellent experience, but one needs to have some basic knowledge of kayaking before planning for the night kayaking.

Government has some rules regarding night kayaking. We have some advice from our experience that what you should keep in mind and what you should bring with you to experience this heavenly feeling.

Let’s get started!

Is night kayaking permitted? What are the regulations?

Night kayaking is permitted in most places that are not hazardous, especially on flat water and in less bushy areas. During night visibility is extremely low. If you are not abiding by some rules and regulations, you may fall into a hazard. That is why the US government has some rules to follow for night navigation. 

Here are some recommendations for night kayakers:

  • You have to exhibit a white light that should prevent collision with other kayakers or vessels.
  • The light can be a torch or any white light that shall be illuminated sufficiently so that other vessels can have time to avoid a collision.
  • According to the U.S.C.G. rule 30, any vessel less than 7 meters in length shall not be required to exhibit light if the vessel is at anchor or not in a narrow channel or away from other vessels.
  • You have to be careful about displaying light. You should not exhibit a high-intensity light that hampers the vision of other paddlers. So, try to illuminate the shape of your kayak or boat with one color (recommending white) light. Multicolor light may confuse other paddlers hence it is not recommended.
  • The light should be a waterproof, hand-held, and 360-degree flashlight.
  • The light should be mounted on such a height on your deck so that it is not restricted by you or the seat back or crate mount. In a word, it should be taller than everything on the kayak.
  • You can add a secondary light that could be head-mounted or PFD mounted for better visibility.
  • Any paddler should be careful about compliance with the navigation rules for night kayaking.

Is night kayaking scary or dangerous?

Why does something become scary? Well, I am scared of height. I am afraid of looking down from a high building. I feel like if I fall, what will happen? I will die very badly! These are the things that tickle my mind. My brain starts to send a scary signal and I begin to tremble with fear.

Similarly, If you think you are afraid of darkness and sounds of grigs, wildlife, etc. at night, kayaking at night might be a scary thing for you. In contrast with height, I do not have a fear of darkness. So, kayaking at night is a fun thing that I love to do. I saw many people who love to do night kayaking and make parties on the water during full moon time. 

Night kayaking is not as versatile as day kayaking. There are some limitations to that. If you are aware of those limitations and precautions, I can say that kayaking at night will no more be a scary thing rather it will be an excellent memory in your life.

How to make a safe night kayaking plan

“Think before you do” is the advice of wise people. Night kayaking requires special planning to make it safer though it is sometimes much safer than day kayaking. Here is why night kayaking is safer:

  • During the daytime, kayaking may be overcrowded. There could be motor boaters, large vessels, or novice kayakers in popular spots. Visibility in the daytime could be low from a motor boat or large vessel from a distant location because the size of a kayak is very small compared to those. It looks like you are merged with water waves hence those reckless boaters may hit you. But in night kayaking, there are less traffic and visibility is high if you follow the safety rules described earlier. Keep in mind the following points before heading to night kayaking:
  • Check the local law before heading to the spot.
  • Check the weather before going there because, at night, our fear intensifies a lot more than daytime for the same phenomena. So, be conscious about the weather forecast. Choose clean weather without a rough one.
  • Try to avoid solo night kayaking. Invite your friends and family or join groups for kayaking at night. 
  • Learn how to identify vessels by looking at different lights they exhibit. Different color of light has different meaning. Though most of this knowledge is very essential for busy area where commercial vessels hover around.
  • Inform your family members or your friends about your planning and tell them when you are coming back. This will help them to search for you if anything bad happened though I wish not.
  • Always make a list of gears and accessories the day before going to hit the water and do not take excess stuff. 

Essential stuff for kayaking at night

One of the most important topics is the necessary gears and accessories for night kayaking. As we told you earlier that you should not overload your kayak for night kayaking. There are some mandatory items that you should bring with you for the safest kayaking. Let’s learn about why they are so important:

A kayak

Many people think about renting a kayak. This is possible in many popular spots. In the popular spots, you will find some outfitters there. But my recommendation is to have your own kayak. Because if you have your own you will have diverse options to select your favorite kayaking spots.

Many kayaking spots remain close at night so there is no option for renting a kayak. Having a personal kayak not only helps you kayaking night but also throughout the year. I think you already have many kayaks in your garage. You can bring your hard shell kayak or inflatable kayak.

I recommend bringing a hard shell kayak is much more safer and enjoyable though many inflatable kayaks also offer excellent performance nowadays. If you do not have kayaks, you can choose one from the best hard shell kayaks or inflatable kayaks


Nothing is as precious as life. We are doing everything for enjoying our life. If this enjoyment brings sorrow to our life or family, this would not be wise. A PFD can be a safeguard in this context. This item is similarly mandatory for both swimmers and non-swimmers whether you are kayaking day or night. So, always bring a PFD with you.

Visible light

 As per the US government regulation of night navigation, you must install some sort of light so that other boaters can see you. How the light should be, already discussed earlier in this article. Check the law of the state that you are planning for.

Most states recommend having a 360-degree white light with a long stand. You can also exhibit the shape of your kayak using flexible LED lights around your kayak so that other kayakers can see your kayak from a long distance and avoid a collision.

Reflective tape

If you do not want to install such LED lights around your kayak, you can paste reflective tape around your kayak. When light from other vessels falls on these reflective tapes, they will see the shape of your kayak. These reflective tapes are cheap and sustainable.

GPS device

A GPS device is a must item for night kayaking. In the darkness, you may lose your path and direction easily. To get back to the starting point or the safest point a GPS device is a very essential item. 

A dry bag

A dry bag is like a first aid box thing. You can put there some extra clothing, some dry food, a whistle, drinking water, and a mini torch. If you lost or your other stuff becomes inoperative, this dry bag will help you to come back. This dry bag is actually a redundant item and precautionary measure for the worst thing.


Night kayaking is something upper-grade kayaking that will give you totally different feelings. Choosing a clear kayak in crystal clear water with no waves can elevate your experience to the pro level. By following local law and our suggestions for planning night kayaking, anyone can make their kayaking at night wonderful. Happy kayaking!

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