Paddling wide river surrounded by cliffs and trees

Kayaking Terminology

Some of the terminology of kayaking is based on general boating that is the same on a ship, yacht or battleship. Common examples include:

The top surface of the vessel
The bottom surface of the vessel
Bow (front)
The front or forwards part of the vessel
Stern (back)
The rare or aft part of the vessel
The left side of the vessel when in a forwards position.
The right side of the vessel when in a forwards position.
Towards the front or bow of the vessel
Towards the back or stern of the vessel

Aft, port and starboards are not commonly used nowadays.

But there are a number of kayaking specific terminologies too. It isn't an over expansive list so you should pick most of these up quickly. These can be grouped into features of the kayak and gear, the features of the river or lake and finally the techniques or manoeuvres to move the kayak.

Kayak with different parts labelled


Features that make up a kayak and related gear.

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Features of rivers and oceans.

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Kayaker doing an aerial loop


Names for manoeuvres used when kayaking.

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