At Paddling Magazine we are working to produce a magazine promoting accessibility in kayak touring. Columns like “Urban Adventures” get people off the couch for an evening paddle and featuring boats like the Islander Hula sit-on-top kayak, brings paddling to those who might otherwise settle for surfboards or pool noodles.

Islander Hula Specs
Length: 8’7”
Width: 26.75”
Weight: 32 lbs
Max Capacity: 225 lbs

Introducing the Islander Hula kayak

The Hula from Islander Kayaks is an endless possibility toy for kids aged four to one hundred and four. It first appears to be a simple sit-on-top, but we were surprising by the number of well-designed features. Generous features are not important on a castaway raft, an alien water taxi or a pirate ship, but they might come into play on an evening of solitude, when learning to surf or just sun tanning.

Get started in a sit-on-top

A sit-on-top kayak like the Islander Hula is a great starter boat for people of any age. Designed as a wave catcher, the Hula is very manoeuvrable and although it turns pretty quickly, even complete beginners had it moving along in a matter of minutes with our quality instruction, “you’ll figure it out.”

The stable platform and drain holes make the Islander Hula an ideal toy for summer fun. Righting the kayak after a tumble is a snap and you’re instantly ready again. With a bunch of touring boats scattered around the local public beach, the hula was without a doubt the most appealing to new paddlers and kids. Without a cockpit and the fear of claustrophobia, beginners dragged it into the water and paddled around in their own comfort zones.

A well-appointed plastic craft

The Hula offers comfort and good bracing points with a molded plastic seat and incorporated foot wells that fit six year olds and six footers. We’d recommend the optional thigh braces for extra contact with the boat and more control in the surf and even for crossing the lake. Harmony thigh straps are available for $45-$70 CAD. The thigh braces can be quickly clipped and unclipped from the existing eyelets.

After taking in water from crashing surf, the self-bailing hull on the Islander Hula means you never have to pump gallons of water from your sit-on-top kayak; it also means it is pretty much impossible to paddle the Hula and keep your shorts dry.

Woman paddles an Islander Hula sit-on-top kayak
Feature Photo: Islander Kayaks

The carrying handles offer a great grip for carrying or loading the kayak with more than one person, but there’s not much option for solo loading or carrying other than dragging and dropping. We thought it would be clever if they recessed the stern handle so it doesn’t scrub your belly when climbing on from the stern. A drain plug was a smart addition in case water eventually makes its way into the molded plastic.

[ Plan your next beginners’ kayak adventure with the Paddling Trip Guide ]

The Islander Hula sit-on-top kayak is pure paddling fun

The Islander Hula is a great way to dip your toes into the world of sit-on-top kayaking. If you’re looking for a fun, economical excuse to get out and enjoy a recreational paddle, say… “Hula Hula!”

This article was first published in the Fall 2002 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


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