Tandem Recreational Kayak Review: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two tandem sit-on-top recreational kayak is an excellent choice for couples, families and pet owners looking to double their pleasure on the water. This review highlights the key features of this wildly popular tandem kayak.

Take a look at the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two if you’re in the market for a versatile sit-on-top kayak for recreation and fishing that can be used by one or two paddlers and performs well in a variety of conditions.

On the water with the Malibu Two

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Specs
Length: 12’0” / 3.7 m
Width: 34” / 86 cm
Weight: 63 lbs / 29.5 kg
Capacity: 362 lbs / 164 kg
MSRP:
Basic — $799 USD
XL — $949 USD
XL Angler — $1,149 USD

Performance

At 12 feet, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two sit-on-top is longer than a typical recreational kayak but somewhat shorter than the average tandem. Length equals speed and tracking, and the Malibu Two clips along and holds its course—especially with two adult paddlers. Just bear in mind the kayak’s maximum capacity is 362 pounds, including paddler weight and any cargo brought on board. Yet the length is also reasonable for car-topping and carrying from the parking lot to the water’s edge.

The hull boasts Ocean Kayak’s trademark stability; with a broad, 34-inch beam the Malibu Two provides a large, comfortable platform for paddlers. It’s no surprise the Malibu Two is a popular kayak for one adult and a child or a pet, given its comfort and reassuring performance.

Check out the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL sit-on-top recreational kayak if you need more capacity for larger paddlers.

Market and demographics

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a recreational kayak best suited for calm, sheltered waterways and mild surf. As an open-deck sit-on-top kayak it’s especially well suited to warm water environments where enclosed, sit-inside kayaks may feel hot and restrictive.

Like many other tandem kayaks, Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is extremely stable: Parents love the Malibu Two as a safe way to introduce youngsters to kayaking; it’s also a perfect kayak to get out on the water with your canine companion.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two fishing is an added bonus. The large hull provides plenty of space for a single angler to pack all the gear to seek out trophy fish. The specialized Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Angler provides even more space and stability, as well as angler-specific accessories like rod- and paddle holders. The Malibu Two is a great way to introduce youngsters to kayak fishing.

Comfort

Ocean Kayak invented the sit-on-top style and pairs a smart hull design with top notch outfitting, including supportive seats that can be removed and adjusted for solo and tandem paddling. Bear in mind there’s limited space for two larger adult paddlers; the Malibu Two is best suited for couples and for a parent to paddle with a child.

The third paddling position in the center of the kayak means the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two comfortably accommodates a single paddler with plenty of space to spare.

About the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

Design

Design features and details

The Malibu Two boasts Ocean Kayak’s trademark Tri Form hull, which combines solid performance with stability. As its name implies, the Tri Form hull features three distinct hull “chambers” (almost like a trimaran) which make the kayak less tippy and keep it tracking straight while paddling.

A closer look at the 12-foot hull shows asymmetrical rocker; that is, there’s more upturn at the bow than at the stern to offer a blend of maneuverability and tracking in flatwater conditions, making the kayak easier to paddle and a more enjoyable experience for novices.

Above the waterline, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two tandem kayak affords seven different seating arrangements by adding, removing and adjusting the placement of seats (all performed easily with no tools), depending on paddler weight and expectations. Unlike many other tandem sit-on-tops, the Malibu Two can be configured for a solo paddler to sit in the center of the kayak, offering better control and performance. What’s more, the bow seat can be pivoted to face the stern—a great arrangement if you’re paddling with a child.

Material and construction

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is constructed from single-layer polyethylene, a plastic that’s virtually indestructible in normal use. The slippery material slides over obstructions and cuts through the water. Combined with the Tri Form hull design, it’s also stiff and efficient for paddling. The tradeoff for ultimate durability is weight, and the Malibu Two is somewhat heavy at 63 pounds.

Design trends

Ocean Kayak is noted in the paddlesports industry as an innovator, particularly for inventing the sit-on-top style of recreational kayak. Until this point, most kayaks were of the sit-inside variety (with a confining deck and cockpit); removing the deck made for an ideal kayak for warm weather and hot environments, as well as easier entry and exit for paddlers of all sizes.

Boy paddles in bow seat of tandem kayak
Photo: Courtesy Ocean Kayak

The Malibu Two fits the typical Ocean Kayak mold, offering remarkable versatility. As a fishing kayak the Malibu Two fills a rare niche as a tandem angler, making it especially perfect for introducing children to kayak fishing.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two outfitting and accessories

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two tandem kayak comes ready to paddle with comfortable folding seats with adjustable back support and molded in foot braces (supports inset into the kayak deck that provide a solid platform for your feet while paddling) to fit a wide range of paddlers.

For dry storage go for the optional Gaspachi hatches; this Ocean Kayak Malibu Two hatch kit provides waterproof protection and easy access to your lunch, sunscreen, camera and other paddling essentials in the bow, center and stern of the kayak, making this a popular Malibu Two package for day trippers.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two replacement parts include scupper plugs. If you want to retrofit a motor you’ll have to order your own small marine engine and get creative, looking to YouTube for clues on how to install a trolling motor on a Malibu Two.

Malibu Two modifications

The easiest Ocean Kayak Malibu Two modifications are built in: The seats can be arranged in seven different ways, depending on paddlers’ weight, objectives and comfort. An Ocean Kayak Malibu Two hatch kit is available to allow owners to retrofit up to three push-on, eight-inch hatches on their kayak.

Some Ocean Kayak Malibu Two owners choose to expand the standard bow, center and stern cargo straps with additional straps or bungees. There are plenty of potential modifications for anglers, including rod holders and bungees to carry tackle boxes and trays—available as after-market upgrades from other manufacturers.

Warranty

The hull and deck of the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two sit-on-top kayak is covered by the manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty, which covers defects in workmanship and materials.

Portability

At 63 pounds the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is somewhat heavy, but it’s reasonable enough for a two-person carry over short distances using the handles at the bow and stern. Molded in side handles add another option for short carries.

You have several options for an Ocean Kayak Malibu Two roof rack. The kayak is well within the weight capacities of most factory-installed vehicle roof racks, or aftermarket roof racks. Adding foam kayak cradles or pool noodles to the metal roof rack bars is your cheapest solution for safe car-topping.

Pickup truck drivers may have room to transport the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two kayak in the truck bed, depending on the vehicle model.

How it compares

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a versatile sit-on-top recreational kayak that fills many needs. Let’s see how it compares to other kayaks in its class.

  • Ocean Kayak Malibu Two vs XL

    At 13’4” the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL is simply a longer version of the 12-foot Malibu Two. More length equals more capacity (430 pounds versus 362 pounds) and a bit more speed. What’s more, the Malibu Two XL has a larger opening for the optional center hatch, making it easier to pack with essentials for a day trip.

    Otherwise, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two and Malibu Two XL have the same functionality, with many options for paddling tandem, solo, with a child or a pet—and many paddling positions. Given its larger dimensions, the Malibu Two XL is also somewhat heavier at 70 pounds.

  • Perception Rambler 13.5 vs Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL

    Looking for a bit more carrying capacity for a drier ride in waves and space for packing for a kayak day trip? The Perception Rambler 13.5 tandem sit-on-top kayak (at 13’6”) is even larger than the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL, with a practical storage well in the stern for gear.

    The Perception Rambler 13.5 can be paddled in many of the same configurations as the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two, and comes with a molded center seat for kids or pets. The Rambler 13.5, however, is eight pounds heavier than the Malibu Two XL, making it more cumbersome to carry by hand and load on a vehicle roof rack.

Parent and two kids paddling on sit-on-top kayak
Photo: Courtesy Ocean Kayak

Where to buy the Malibu Two

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two and Malibu Two XL are both readily available from Ocean Kayak retailers across North America. Buying a new Malibu Two from a kayak retailer will give you access to all the Ocean Kayak accessories at the point of sale.

Looking to save some money? Search Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Craigslist to find a used one. With solid construction the Malibu Two is built to last, so buying used is a great way to find a good deal on a solid recreational kayak.

Kayaks: Malibu Two by Ocean Kayak - Image 4422
Ocean Kayak

Malibu Two

The most popular compact, lightweight tandem sit-on-top in the world was designed for affordable family adventure. Stable and versatile with seating for one or two, plus a small child or pet.
  • Can be paddled solo or tandem
  • Two Comfort Plus seat backs
  • Molded-in seat wells
  • Gear straps
  • Side carry handles

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Supreme versatility is this sit-on-top kayak’s greatest strength: tandem or solo, kayak fishing or paddling in easy waves
  • Fantastic for getting kids on the water or sharing the adventure with your pet

Cons

  • Generalist kayak design means it does not excel in any particular area of use, especially when paddled solo. Look at a solo-specific kayak if your main objective is to paddle alone.
  • Larger, and therefore heavier, than more compact sit-on-top rec kayaks.

Related articles

Ocean Kayak reviews

Tandem recreational kayak reviews

Sit-on-top recreational kayak reviews

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