As I continued to kayak across the country with my first and only tandem kayak at the time, my family and friends started joining in my weekend adventures. All these new paddlers for only one kayak reduced significantly my paddling time in every trip. So, I decided it was time to buy another tandem kayak to get more friends and family to enjoy the paddling experience.
HOBIE KONA IIType:
- Includes quality seats and paddles
- Ideal family kayak
- Length: 11 ft 6 in - Weight: 78 lb
As it happens in many cases, people want to try the sport but lack the basic skills to paddle such as balance, core strength or even know how to swim. Taking does things into consideration I had to look a Kayak that is not only stable and easy to paddle but also fun and user friendly. Basically, I was looking for a kayak that would inspire confidence to those who harbor second thoughts about paddling to the middle of a lake.
There is where I stumbled upon the Hobie Kona II a tandem, sit on top kayak that is particularly well known for its stability and ease to stay in a straight line without much effort. But performance is not the only aspect to consider, there are many other brands and models that can deliver this, so it also had to be affordable.
Lucky for me in the Dominican Republic we have Carib Wind, a local Hobie Kayak dealer, where I got it for a good price. Plus the seats and paddles. Once I got the kayak set it was time to get the paddling going.
Why I Chose the Hobie Kona II for my Family and Friends
To answer fairly this question let’s start by reviewing the specifications and how it best serves the goal of delivering fun and safety to friends and family.
Being a tandem kayak, you can place two adults comfortably, but also you can add a third passenger if it’s a child or teenager due to the ample space it has.
This kayak has also a built-in middle seat that you can use to paddle as a single person kayak as well.
Its designed to only use paddles as a propulsion method and it can hold 425 pounds of load which would allow for my big size cousin get a good workout while having fun in the process. Its broad hull design, followed by its built-in keel allows for a stable ride either in serene Coastal Waters, Inland Lakes or Class One (1) Rivers.
In short, it serves more the purpose of helping kayakers keep their balance while paddling than it can smoothly glide through the water.
Paddling the Hobie Kona II Kayak
The first time I paddled the Hobie Kona II was when I kayaked the class 1 river called Nizao all the way down to the lake of Valdesia. As soon as the river currents started propelling me down, I could appreciate the advantages of the kayak’s design in terms of stability and maneuverability.
I was able to easily avoid the sand banks down the stream with a few paddle strokes.
A few unavoidable branches that extended into the river really tested the stability of the kayak as I had to shift my center of gravity and perform a low brace without capsizing while performing this maneuver.
Once I got to lake Valdesia my mind switched from gaming mode to relaxing and contemplation mode. At this point I could enjoy some of the comfort built-in features of the Hobie Kona II. The molded-in center seat was wide enough as to accommodate me perfectly. It provided a good lumbar rest which accompanied with a seat made the paddle more enjoyable. The Hobie Kona II has sufficient molded-in foot pegs as to match your leg length even if you are Solo Kayaking from the center seat. If you are a fishing enthusiast you can easily use this kayak for your fishing expeditions as it is equipped with two sealed hatches and there is enough space to add rod holders. Adding into the level of comfort, the Hobie Kona II has a rear cargo area where you can safely place a mid size cooler that goes nicely with the 3 built-in cup holders, perfect for a paddle in the summer heat of the Caribbean.
Pros and Cons of the Hobie Kona II
For a kayak that has so many upsides it’s best to start with the few cons that I consider worth mentioning. First of all, the Hobie Kona II weighs 60 pounds which makes it pretty difficult to move it around or put it in your roof rack by yourself.
Therefore, you will need assistance of another person or a kayak cart or trolley to move it around. Another downside that I consider important to note comes directly from my experience kayaking the Caribbean Sea.
While kayaking choppy waves or trying to ride a non-breaking wave this kayak has poor gliding performance, mainly because its hull design focuses in maximizing stability.
Finally, very much linked with the previous one the Hobie Kona II is slower than other tandem kayaks which are streamlined to better displace water, reduce drag and improve efficiency.
Getting these not so good aspects behind let’s dive into the benefits that the Hobie Kona II has to offer. Its great resistance to tear and wear comes from being rotomolded in a single layer of polyethylene.
This also helps to make it less susceptible to sun discoloration. The design of a wide beam with a fairly short waterline helps to promote responsiveness, but above all it promotes stability which increases greatly its safety. Another aspect that offsets from the main purpose of this kayak is that it can be easily upgraded into a fishing kayak.
With a few add-ons you can serve yourself of its stability and fish while standing up as well. In general, the Hobie Kona II is a great entry level kayak that serves perfectly for paddlers who don’t want to venture into rough waters.
I give 4.5/5 Stars to the Hobie Kona II Kayak
Final Words on The Hobie Kuna II
I highly recommend owning this kayak as it will last ages and resist the beatings of newbie paddlers who have a knack to put Murphy’s Laws to the test. If there is someone that is having second thoughts about kayaking, either if they are a bit apprehensive of the whole idea or trying to make up their mind, one of the best kayaks to paddle for the first time sure is the Hobie Kona II.
In order to get this safety profile, speed had to be sacrificed as well as its ability to ride small waves. For that reason only, this kayak doesn’t get its 5 stars.
The Valdesia Lake, where we tested the Hobie Kona II, has been the playground for many kayak tour expeditions and hopefully soon we will be sharing one of those memorable experiences.