NEW! The e-Book now contains my Kayak Diving slideshow presentation!

Click on the graphic above for information about the Kayak Diving & Fishing e-Book on CD-ROM.

June 6, 2002, at County line. This California Halibut is 45" long and weighs 39 pounds!

Click on the photo above for the story on this fish!


Kayak diving and fishing are the newest and most exciting adventures in onshore kayaking... The popularity of these sports is exploding across the states and around the world, and Mark Theobald, of High Seas Publishing, and "The Saturday Morning Gang" are all over it! Let us show you everything you need to get started in all the sit-on-top kayaking sports without suffering through all the mistakes like we and so many others did! KAYAK DIVING & FISHING will provide all the information you need to get into these great sports and make it through your very first outing with little worry of injury or lost gear. In the following pages, I begin to show you all the tips and tricks the pro's use to make onshore sit-on-top kayaking safe, easy, and so enjoyable! The CDROM e-Book fully covers the rest!!! ---Mark Theobald

You might say, "I'm not a scubadiver or a freediver.... Why would I want to know anything about kayak diving?" To put it simply, if you learn the kayaking skills necessary to successfully, safely, and easily scuba dive from a kayak, you can do ANYTHING else with your kayak that your heart desires! Except for the techniques that are obviously applicable only to scuba diving, all the remaining topics discussed in these web pages and in "KAYAK DIVING & FISHING, Surfing, Exploring, and Play!" apply equally well to using your kayak on open water for fishing, touring, exploring, surfing, and any other activity you may want to do with your kayak!

The article,"KAYAK DIVING!", that follows, briefly covers the more important aspects of kayak diving. Skip down past the lobster picture and you're ready to start. Many who have read this article (but not my CDROM e-Book) have suggested that I surely must be giving away too much of my book online for free. I can assure you that, as thorough as this article is, it barely scratches the surface of what you will find in my e-Book!

Click here for your invitation to reprint this web page and article, and for information on obtaining a Kayak Diving Specialty class outline.

Following the kayak diving article is a Link To KAYAK REVIEWS in which I talk about some of the more popular models of sit-on-top kayaks.

Thanks for visiting my page, and feel free to add a link to it in your own diving, fishing, or kayaking related web site. All comments and suggestions are welcome!

KAYAK DIVING! By Mark Theobald

In this article, I'll briefly cover nearly all the most important aspects of kayak diving, the newest and most exciting mode of onshore diving to come along since the inflatable raft and dry snorkel. I'll talk about the sport in general, discuss some kayaking basics, and then, hopefully, give you just enough info to get out and make a kayak dive without losing gear or sustaining major injuries.

BUT, WHAT ABOUT ME? Click About The Author to find out!

On The Cover (of the original book)....
"Dave wasn't paying attention when he accidentally pulled his hood on backwards...
but Doug was, and I was too! Click."

So, "What's so great about kayak diving?", you might ask, "especially when there's beach diving and boat diving?" Let me name many of the best reasons why kayak divers love their sport so much:


  • Entry and exit through surf is so much easier.
  • It's easy to reach sites far away from your entry point.
  • You can stay warm and dry before and after the dive.
  • There's no exhausting surface swim.
  • It's easy to approach certain types of sea life.
  • Current and rips are no problem for the kayaker.
  • You can get into tight places that boats wouldn't dare.
  • Your surface support craft is always near-by, especially when drift diving.
  • It's easy to take along an extra tank or two.
  • The kayak provides a place to rest between dives.
  • There's more social time during the dive excursion.
  • It's easy to bring back game or salvaged items, like anchors.
  • You have an anchor line to descend and ascend on.
  • The kayak allows the use of SONAR and GPS equipment.
  • Paddling provides the upper body workout that diving doesn't.
  • No high cost of boat ownership and maintenance.
  • The kayak goes on top of your economy car, no assembly required.
  • Except for parking fees and air-fills, it's free.

For me, one of the main advantages of kayak diving is simply that it gets you out there. KAYAK DIVERS DIVE MORE than any other group of sport divers that I know of. For many of us that's nearly every weekend. When we're not diving because of conditions, we're paddling and kayak surfing at Leo Carrillo, Channel Islands and Ventura Harbors, or other beaches in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara.


We're going to get into this kayak diving bit in just a second, but first, I want to offer a bit of advice. The problem, you see, is that as divers we want to dive. We DON'T want to go paddling around in the harbor or playing in the surf. No, we just want to get on this thing and go out and do it! And so..., off we do go to kayak dive, with little or no experience in paddling a kayak, through heavy surf, or in fast moving currents, totally unaccustomed to the stability characteristics of our craft, and unaware of our abilities to handle the prevailing winds and currents. Too often we'll learn that a few hours of such experience would have made the difference between losing and not losing dive gear. Or, we'll find any one of a myriad of ways to let mother nature show us that we are not nearly as prepared as we ought to be.

If you don't intend to put in and take out inside a surf zone then maybe you don't need to practice surf entries and exits. However, playing in the surf will teach you a lot about the handling of your kayak. For instance, you'll learn pretty quickly that you must always brace toward the outside, and how to avoid 'endos'. Either way, you should practice getting on and off your kayak in deep water. Try rolling the kayak over, and try moving all about on your kayak to see where the balance points are. Play a little game of bumper boats with your buddies. This is the best game for improving your paddling and maneuvering abilities.

We certainly must be aware that CURRENT, SURF, WIND, and COLD can present serious challenges to all but the most thoroughly prepared and knowledgeable.


OK! Let's take a look at a dive kayak and what makes it suitable for diving from. First and foremost, it is a SIT-ON-TOP. Of course, this means that you can easily get off and on in deep water and when making way through the surf. In fact, it is the sit-on-top feature that is responsible for the incredible rise in popularity of the sport of kayaking in general. Paddlers no longer need to fear being trapped inside their kayak.

The dive kayak will have a suitable place to stow a scuba tank and weight-belt. These heaviest pieces of dive gear MUST be secured so well that it is as though they are part of the hull itself. In surf, you must literally be prepared to watch your kayak roll up onto the beach without you, and, hopefully, without losing any gear in the process. Sure, we try to avoid these mishaps, but, believe me, they still happen occasionally, even to the best of us.


This brings me to revealing the kayak diver's best friends: the bungy-cord and the tether. The tether is a short section of strong rope with a swivel-snap at one end and a loop at the other. The tether is secured to an eyelet on the deck and is used to keep various pieces of dive gear from departing without you during the dive excursion. One of the most important tethers is the one you will use to keep your tank and BC floating next to your kayak before and after your dive. Another important tether is used to secure your goody-bag or gear bag containing the smaller pieces of dive gear, such as your knife, compass, mask, etc.


Dive kayaks are not born perfect! You will almost certainly need to make some additions to your kayak to turn it into the ultimate dive platform. Mostly, you may need to add additional eyelets to the deck in strategically located places to provide for the needs of the kayak diver. These eyelets will provide bungy-cord and tether points to allow you to better secure your tank in the rear, your gear bag up front, or to make redundant connections to your anchor line. Also, to secure your weight-belt, or to hold your hatch cover on more securely. During a good roll in the surf (as opposed to a bad one???), you wouldn't want your weight-belt to knock a hatch cover out of position and disappear into the depths.

LASHED BUT NOT LEASHED... (In my best Sean Connery voice...)

What else do you need? A paddle, seat, anchor, bow-line... Very important is to have a way to secure your pole-spear or spear-gun so that it won't be lost or injure someone during the entry or exit. All the hunters in our group use pole-spears, and most use a capped PVC pipe to contain the spear-tip during transit. If you are just going to strap or bungy your pole-spear or spear-gun to the side of your kayak, you should, at least, remove the spear tip during transit.

You need some way of securing your paddle during the dive. You might like to have a wind-breaker onboard for the cooler dive days, especially considering that you won't want to paddle more than a few hundred feet with your wet-suit jacket on. Don't forget your dive flag, water bottle, and sunscreen. On some kayaks you may want to have a means of removing water from inside the hull. A large sponge often works well for this purpose. Also, remember your safety equipment, such as PFD (life-vest) and signal whistle. The PFD is particularly important for the dry-suit diver who paddles with his suit rolled down to the waist. Shock cords across the anchor line and between kayaks that are tied together can make you much more comfortable on days with a high swell or wind chop. You won't have to ask, "Who's that jerk behind me?" (I guess you'd just have to be there to understand).

Depending on the type of diving you are doing, there is a long list of items you might consider taking along with you. The checklist at the back of my book lists just about every item you would ever need during your outing, and previous chapters provide enough info to make well informed buying decisions on all accessories.

Divers arrive at the Leo Carillo/Nicholas Canyon Dive Site


Before selecting your dive kayak, think about how you will be using it. Remember that the shorter kayaks are more maneuverable and much more fun in the surf, but can be painfully slow for paddling long distances. The longer kayak will track better and will move considerably faster with less effort, but, is not very well suited for play in the surf, especially for the novice.

I always recommend that you try out a few before you buy. Borrow one from a friend, bum one at the beach, rent one, or attend a kayak clinic. These clinics are put on by local dealers and are a great way to check out different models, while getting some good advice and instruction, for free. Last, but not least, visit the popular kayak diving spots on the weekend and see what the kayak divers are using and what they like or dislike about their particular models.



Here are a few pointers on making the actual dive:
First of all, consider the effects of wind and current when selecting your anchor site. Try to make sure that you, or others who are tied behind, don't end up over thick kelp, near exposed pinnacles, or too near the surf line. Always choose an appropriate anchorage down-current of your intended dive area.

The environmentally conscious coral reef diver will take his or her anchor down and place it by hand where it won't damage living structures of the reef. The trick for these guys is to paddle far enough up-wind or up-current to allow time to suit up and don dive gear before drifting back to the intended area of anchorage.


Most importantly, keep your hatches, and everything else that doesn't float, secured whenever you are not holding on to them. Get your fins on and in the water as soon as possible for added stability. You can put your tank on while sitting aboard your kayak, but you may find it easier to put it on in the water. Put some air in your BC, make sure the tether is attached, and slip it into the water. Hang pole-spears, flashlights, goody-bags, ab-irons, and fish-hooks over the side on a tether so you can grab them after your tank is on.


Now I'm going to take a chance and tell you something totally contradictory to what you're going to see or hear anywhere else: Assuming, of course, you are certain that you are not overweighted, have your fins on, and are confident that you can stay at the surface without your BC on, put your weight-belt on before you get in the water. And, when you get back to the kayak after your dive, leave the weight-belt on until you are back aboard. Today's BCs do not interfere with weight-belts in any way, and, considering how easy it is to get in and out of a kayak with the weight-belt on, there is just no reason to risk losing the belt by handling it in the water.

When you are putting your tank on in the water, always be sure to swim and push it into the current as you are preparing to don it. In other words, don't look up after you get your tank on and find that you've been swept away by the current. In really fast current, consider trying to don your tank while still aboard your kayak (it will pay to have practiced this in still water first).


Finish up by attaching your game bag, ab-iron, flashlight, etc., and by taking your camera, pole-spear or spear-gun off its tether. Give your buddy a quick check, finalize your dive plan, and take off. Descend on the anchor line and check the placement of the anchor, guarding against entanglement, slipping, or chafing of the line, and damage to living organisms. Also place it so it can be easily hauled up from above. Don't ever get too far down-current during your dive, and always complete the last third of your dive up-current from your kayak. In heavy current, you might be best off to do your entire dive up-current.


After the dive, just do everything in reverse. First get that camera well secured. Then, offload anything that you are holding or that is attached to your wrist. Put some air in your BC and slip out of it. Hook up the tether and let it float near the stern of your kayak. Remove anything hanging from your weight-belt and secure that to the kayak. You are now ready to re-enter the kayak. Grab the side of your kayak with both hands and kick out a few strokes until your body and legs are very near the surface of the water. Then, with one last kick, push up a little and pull the kayak underneath you until you are laying across the deck sideways. Roll over on your back and release your weight-belt, but hold on to it until you get it properly stowed. A picture sequence on my page at Diving Technique illustrates this method of reentering your kayak. Use your browser -BACK- button to return here after taking a look at that page.

If your kayak has a tank bay in the rear, you'll probably find that it's easiest to pull the tank aboard by the boot or bottom of the tank. Keep your finned feet in the water to provide stability while you are bringing the tank onboard. It may be a little different on the Scuppers and Prism where you might bring the tank into the cockpit area first. You'll probably have to remove the regulator and BC before you can get it in through the front or rear hatch.

You simply MUST remember to keep EVERYTHING well secured while you are moving things around on your kayak. Newcomers often seem to flip over on their kayaks for no obvious reason. Sometimes a wave or swell sets them off balance, or, they just forget where up is. It's no problem if everything is secured properly.


I'm going to finish up with a few pointers on surf entries and exits, because it is usually these aspects of the sport that cause the most concern, for newcomers and old-timers alike.


The first rule of entry is: Don't be in a hurry. Go ahead and pull your loaded kayak down to the waterline, but then, kick back and watch the surf for a few minutes. Wait through a few cycles of high and low sets until you can tell when the smaller set is about to begin. When the time is right, grab the front toggle handle of your kayak and pull it straight out into the surf until you are in water over your knees. Then, pull the kayak up beside you and grab both sides of the kayak. Give one last big push and hop on. Now, without hesitation, paddle like crazy, straight into the breaking waves, stopping only during the instance you are hit by the wave. With any forward momentum at all you will probably punch right through. When possible, time your meeting with a cresting wave to happen before it breaks or several seconds after it breaks, remembering, though, that it is more important to maintain forward speed and to hit the wave dead on than it is to hit the wave at any particular moment.


One of the most awkward things that can happen to you when you pull your kayak out into the surf is when you step into a trough and find yourself suddenly in water over (or nearly over) your head. You'll want to get into your kayak pretty quickly at this point. Grab the side of your kayak, kick out with your feet a few times, and pull yourself up onto the kayak. Grab your paddle and get moving as quickly as possible. Your practice paddling and bracing in the surf without all that gear aboard will really pay off right about now.

If you do get knocked back by the wave and can't stay on, just get out of the way and let the kayak go on by. Don't get caught between the beach and your kayak where the surf may bash it into you! It will be difficult to handle the kayak if it is sitting sideways in the surf, so try to get it pointed out to sea as quickly as possible. Retreat to the beach or hop on and try it again.


Exits back to the beach cause the most concern. Kayak divers and fishermen know that this is when the most serious mishaps are likely to occur. Again, the main thing is to stay outside the break zone and watch the surf for a while. Your exit technique will depend on the size of the waves, how far out the waves are breaking, and your kayak surfing abilities. Where the waves are breaking far off shore, you will porobably need to come in in front of a wave because you won't be able to beat the waves in. Where larger waves are crashing right onto the beach, you will definitely want to come in on the back of the wave. This is particularly so on longer kayaks such as the Scuppers and Prism, which seem to get sucked up onto the back of these waves and carried right up onto dry beach. Even on a shorter kayak, you can usually make it in before the next wave comes along in these conditions.


Probably the worst thing that can happen to you on exiting the surf is an 'endo' or 'purl'. Endos happen to a kayak that is coming in perpendicular to the wave front, and when the kayak is too long or nose heavy for the steepness of the front of the wave. The bow no longer has sufficient flotation or planing ability to keep it above the surface. So it purls, or dives down, often to the point of hitting bottom! The wave does the rest by continuing to push the stern of the kayak up and over the bow.

There are several ways to avoid a pending endo once you are on the face of a wave. You can paddle like crazy to get out on the flatter part of the wave, lean way back to lighten the front end and cause the kayak to move out on the wave, or turn the kayak and come in sideways on the wave. The latter method is the only sure-fire way to avoid an endo altogether, and, is often the preferred method for bringing longer kayaks in. As you come around sideways on the wave, stick the flat side of your outbound paddle out into the breaking wave and lean, or brace against it as hard as is necessary to keep from being rolled toward the beach. If you lean too hard, at least you'll be on the outside and won't get run over by your kayak as it passes you by. You will soon be amazed at the size of a crashing wave you can make it in on (sideways) with this method, especially if you put enough of your weight out on that blade.

"Back To Top Of Page"


One of the things I am most often asked is for recommendations on which exact kayaks to look at for the purpose of kayak diving and fishing. To this end I offer, at the link below, an incomplete list of kayaks that I am familiar with, in no particular order, along with a very short note of my own opinion on that model.

I'll tell you now that nearly ALL the divers in our group have migrated to the Malibu Two (standard version, not the XL) for diving and fishing. The M2 is one of the sturdiest kayaks out there, which is why it is also the most popular kayak for rental outfits and the best selling kayak in the world (as of this writing). With decent enough speed for a few miles of paddling, unsurpassed stability, a ton (almost literally) of cargo capacity, and being a simply awesome surf boat, we find it to be the perfect compromise to all our needs.

For diving and surfing, we put the seat in the rear-most position. For diving, this leaves the entire front deck clear for securing the gear that doesn't fit down into the 8" hatches (we only cut and use the center one). Just be sure to add a few extra sets of eyelets for extra bungees and straps as needed. For surfing, using the rear seat postion keeps the front light for S-turns during wave riding, and for riding up over the waves on the way out.

Take a look now at my ever growing list of SIT-ON-TOP KAYAK REVIEWS.
You can find more discussion of various models at More On Kayak Selection.

For more kayak reviews, I suggest you visit Paddling.Net or


Everything discussed in this article (and much, much more) is covered in my CDROM book, "KAYAK DIVING & FISHING". You'll read about adverse weather and ocean conditions, cold water and deep water diving, free-diving and solo-diving, night-diving, current and wind. Kayak rescue and repair techniques, kayak fishing, surfing and touring, navigation and referencing, and just about every other subject that you can even remotely tie in to the sports of kayak diving and fishing. Also included are descriptions of some of the better local kayak diving and fishing spots, a sit-on-top kayaker's checklist, equipment log, kayaking directory, a learning guide, kayak diving class outline, etc., etc.

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this article or my book, please E-Mail me at . Thanks!

Any negative comments can be E-Mailed to
............Just kidding!!! ;~)

Reprinting this web page and article...

Dive clubs, business and training organizations, and individuals are invited to print, copy, and distribute this web page to their members and friends. All I ask is that it be distributed in its entirety so readers will know how to contact me for more information. The article, "Kayak Diving!", from this web page may be reprinted, in whole or in part, in any publication of mass distribution on the condition that Mark Theobald is listed as the author and is mentioned in the credits. Thanks!!!

Kayak Diving Specialty Class Outline...

If you are an instructor or training outfit in need of a Kayak Diving Specialty class outline which has received PADI approval each time it was submitted, please contact me via eMail or by phone. The price separately is $10.00 plus $3.50 S&H. If you order one with my e-Book on CDROM, I'll ship them together to save you the extra $3.50 shipping charge. Total cost for the CD and outline, including shipping, to U.S. locations, is $25. I don't have a link for this payment, but you can specify my account: paypal (at) kayakdiving (dot) com. The outline is excrutiatingly comprehensive and complete! And, it follows, almost exactly, the outline of my book!

"Back To Top Of Page"

High Seas Publishing Proudly Presents The Kayak Diver's and Fisherman's Bible:



Surfing, Exploring, and Play!

is now ready to ship!!!
Currently for WINDOWS and MAC!

If you are a beach diver or shore fisherman, this is the book you've been waiting for! You just might never walk in off the beach or fish from shore again!!! If you are new to sit-on-top kayaking, this book will open up a whole new world of adventure for you! Sit-on-top kayaking is a sport for all ages, abilities, and interests. Kayak diving and fishing now join surfing, touring, exploring, exercize, and just plain fun as more great reasons to join millions of kayakers now enjoying their sport every week. KAYAK DIVING & FISHING, SURFING, EXPLORING, and PLAY! is the first book ever to fully cover it all!!!
With the equivalent of over 200 pages and nearly as many graphics and drawings, KAYAK DIVING & FISHING is the kayak diver's and fisherman's bible. KAYAK DIVING & FISHING... is simply jam-packed full of just about everything you will ever need (or want) to know to enjoy these great sports to the fullest! There are additional photo galleries and MPG movies aside from those linked in the e-Book too!

"KAYAK DIVING & FISHING, Surfing, Exploring and Play!"
is also the complete guide to using your sit-on-top kayak for FREEDIVING, TOURING, and just plain FUN!

The original Kayak Diver's Bible is now available only on CD-ROM.

Thirteen chapters cover EVERYTHING, from selecting and outfitting your kayak to finding the best dive spots.

Chapter titles are 1:Sit-On-Top Kayaking, 2:The Sit-On-Top, 3:Kayaking Accessories, 4:Kayak Customization And Optional Equipment, 5:Trip Preparation And Paddling School, 6:The Ocean, Entry And Exit, 7:At The Fishing and Diving Site, 8:Diving Specialties, 9:Kayaking in Adverse Conditions, 10:Kayak Rescue Techniques, 11:Diversions, 12:Kayak Repair, and 13:Just Do It!

Don't suffer through all the mistakes like we (and so many others) did!
KAYAK DIVING & FISHING will provide all the information you need to get into these great sports and make it through your very first outing with little worry of injury or lost gear.

You just might never walk in off the beach or fish from shore again!!!

Featuring original music by Dave Naillon.
The slideshow is 26 minutes and the videos are 4 to 5 minutes long.

If you missed my presentations at DEMA and SCUBA-2003
you can now have your own copy of the actual presentation!

A rather crabby confrontation at Pt. Dume!

Diving on the Valiant in Avalon Park.
Click on this photo for more info on the wreck.

The boss of the reef in Avalon Park!

Diving in Avalon Park with lots of color and light!

Diving on the SueJac in Avalon Park.
Click on this photo for more info on the wreck.

See the Pricing Table for Additional Pricing Information!

Purchase KAYAK DIVING & FISHING... now with your credit card! I accept's PayPal. I'm VERIFIED! Buyer Protection is guaranteed!

In the U.S.
(Single Copy - $15.00)
Canada & Mexico
(Single Copy - $18.00)
(Single Copy - $20.00)
See the Pricing Table for purchasing multiple copies with your credit card.

--- OR ---

Make and send your check to:

Mark Theobald
227 Tennyson S.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

KAYAK DIVING & FISHING, Surfing, Exploring, and Play!
is currently for the WINDOWS and MAC OS10 platforms only!

I usually ship USPS-1st Class within a few days of receipt of your PayPal order, personal check or money order drawn on any U.S. bank. When you order through PayPal, if you do not get an e-Mail from me within just a few days confirming your order, please feel free to contact me directly via e-Mail or by telephone. Please do not send registered mail as I have trouble getting to my local Post Office before 5:30PM!

Write for more information!

Sorry, the printed version of
"KAYAK DIVING - The Complete Guide"
is no longer available!

Surfing, Exploring and Play!

is now ready to order for Windows and MAC!!!

In the CD you'll now find much more important and useful information focusing on kayak diving and fishing, and including kayak surfing, touring, exploring, and just plain fun!!! So much of what I had written previously on kayak diving was pertinent to kayak fishing and other variations of the paddling sport it just made sense to expand. I hope you agree and enjoy the additional discussions!

When you receive your CD, just pop it in your CD drive and it should auto-start. If it doesn't, use your "My Computer" file manager, Windows Explorer, or any other file manager program to browse the top directory of the CD. In there you will find a file named "index.html", which may appear only as "index" if you do not display file extensions. Double-click on this file to open it in your internet browser program such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. The web page displayed in your browser will have more information and a menu that appears in every chapter of the book that will allow you to move throughout the entire e-Book.


Worst-Case-Scenario Face-Off Challenge
My episode first aired on TBS July 31, 2002.
Click on the photo for the story and more stills from the competition.

Opening Night - 2000! I'd tell you where but my buddies would shoot me!
Click on the photo for the story, and MORE lobster photos!