There are a number of “kayak rental companies” that have plastic sit-on-top kayaks for use on the ocean in protected waters. We have rented them several times when these are all that are available. We paddled the Hanalei River on Kauai last year hen this year we paddled A’ Bay on the Big Island.
First of all, we were astounded by the outrageous prices – $40 for an hour. SUPs were $50 for an hour! There is no competition in the area so they could charge that and resort goers pay the price.
Second, the boats were plastic sit-on-tops with no back rests, wide, slow, and very uncomfortable. Companies buy for several reasons. First, if someone is flipped over, they are easy to get back on. They are very similar to a SUP really. Second, they take a beating easily and third, they are cheap to purchase.
I had intended to paddle for 2 hours, but with no back or thigh support, my feet kept falling asleep and my iliotibial band started to ache. These boats are not designed for aerobic exercise. They are fine for 30 minutes of paddling about, floating around really.
I did rent an SUP for an hour too, and they were fine. A wide 11-footer was a bit slow, especially in the wind, but they are great for paddling about the bay and even for sitting down or snorkeling.
We won’t be renting any more plastic rental barges. We will stick to our 18+ foot ocean kayaks while we are paddling in BC and we will only rent SUPs when abroad.