Skip to Content

Do Kayaks Require Light at Night?

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details..

Do you enjoy kayaking? Kayaking is a sweet and thrilling activity to take you closer to the blue world. What’s even more thrilling? Kayaking at night. Have you ever thought of kayaking at night? Even though it is fun, it can be a bit scary if you are not prepared for it.

How do you prepare for night kayaking? Well, you could start with installing lamps.

Do kayaks require light at night?

Kayaks require light at night for multiple reasons. Giving your kayak good lighting can keep you safe and also notify others of your presence.

kayaking in a peaceful lake at night

In this article, we’ll cover the light requirements to kayak at night and other ways can you kayak safely at night.

Why You Need Light to Kayak at Night

You should go kayaking at night with different types of light. Your kayak should have a lighting system at night. Some reasons why you should (or must) go kayaking with light at night are:

1. To Be Visible to Others

Just imagine that you are driving at night without headlights to notify other drivers (ahead of or behind you) of your presence. That would obviously be against the law.

In the same way, it is legally required that when kayaking at night, your kayak should be well-lit so that others (including relevant authorities) will be aware that you are in the river or sea.

2. To Better Explore Your Environment

How would you see what is around you without light? You need a flashlight to see what is around you or coming your way. With light, you will know that a floating log of wood is actually a log of wood and not an alligator or vice versa.

Sufficient light will keep you feeling more safe and secure.

3. To Read Your Map or Guide

If you have a map, guide, or any relevant information written on paper, you can only read it when there is light. You need light so that you do not get lost while kayaking at night.

4. To Repel Animals

Ever heard of nocturnal animals? Nocturnal animals are species (or groups) of animals that are more active at night. Nocturnal animals are usually afraid of the light. For example, cockroaches and other insects around your home will not enter a bright room because of the light.

Just like cockroaches, nocturnal animals in rivers such as some species of snakes, electric eels, sharks, etc. will not come close to your kayak because of the bright lights.

This means that giving your kayak a good lighting system can keep you safe at night.

5. Various Emergencies

There might come an urgent need for light, so you should make sure that you have enough light in your kayak so that in an emergency, you will be prepared.

Now that you know why you need light in your kayak at night, it is time to know what types of light you should install on your kayak for night kayaking.

tactical waterproof flashlight

Lighting Tips for Kayaking at Night

Here are ways to install and use lights while kayaking at night:

1. Install Green and Red Lights at the Sides of Your Kayak

You should install a green light on the right side of your kayak and install a red light on the left side.

The different colors of light (at different sides) can help others to know what direction you are facing. The red and green lights are also good for attracting others nearby (in case of an emergency).

2. Keep a Flashlight

You should hold a flashlight that can shine bright towards a location. The flashlight is important especially when you want to identify an approaching object. The flashlight can also come in handy when you want to read information written on paper.

3. Bow and Stern Lights

The bow light is very essential so that nothing can approach you from the back without you knowing what it is. As for the stern light, it is important especially when you are tired of using a flashlight to view what’s in front of you.

4. Wear a Head Lamp

Not as important as the lights installed in your kayak, you would wear a headlamp to properly hold and view relevant information such as guides written on paper.

Headlamps are necessary if you are kayaking far from shore.

5. The Kayak Lights Should Stay On

Aside from your headlamps, your lights should remain switched on even when you think that you do not need them. You should never turn off the bow light but can turn off the red and green lights when you need to concentrate on something.

Remember to turn the lights back on when you are moving (as they will tell people what direction you are facing).

orange life jacket and white-red life bouy

Other Safety Tips for Kayaking at Night

Here are more safety tips for you:

1. Go with Noisemakers

Noisemakers are devices that can make loud sounds. Noisemakers such as air horns are beneficial in emergencies.

You can use noisemakers to reveal your exact spot to people looking for you. Guess what, you can also use noisemakers to repel nocturnal animals.

2. Go with Someone

If you want to go kayaking at night, you should go with a friend or partner. The presence of someone close to you will help you feel secure. It is also safer to go kayaking with someone.

As an extra tip, you should tell people about your plans to kayak at night so that everyone who needs to know will be aware of your movement at night.

3. Check Your Tools and Accessories in the Day

Before heading for the river or sea at night, you should make sure that every tool that you’ll be needing at night is working. In the daytime, check every tool.

As an extra tip, you should not use brand-new tools while kayaking at night. Make sure that you have used them at least once so that you’d know how to operate them and also, you’ll be sure that they will work fine.

4. Go with Your Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

It is required that you wear your life jacket while kayaking.

You need your PFD especially at night and during an emergency.

5. If Possible, Explore the Route Beforehand

If you can go check out the route or area you will be kayaking through at night beforehand, you should do so. It is not so advisable to go kayaking in a new route at night. If kayaking in well-known places can feel strange at night, how do you think kayaking in a completely new place will feel?

Aside from checking the route beforehand, you should also go with someone who knows the place like the back of their hands so that they will properly guide you.

kayak out to sea at sunset

Related Questions and Answers

Still, have some unanswered questions? Here is more information for you:

1. Why Should You Go Kayaking at Night?

There are several reasons why you should go kayaking at night. The reasons include:

  • Observe Nature’s Beauty: Bioluminescence is the ability of organisms to emit light naturally. You can go kayaking at night to see some aquatic organisms emit light. It is a beautiful sight to behold. Also, kayaking under a full moon while talking to the one you love is a dream come true for many.
  • Less Traffic: Kayaking in popular places can be a challenge when you consider the number of kayakers sharing the same spot with you. To kayak alone, you can try kayaking at night (if you can).
  • Research: Scientists such as biologists may go kayaking at night because of a research project to study organisms in their natural habitats at night. Remember to go with a flashlight if you are kayaking at night because of research.
  • Returning to Shore: Some fishermen and other kayakers may go far away from shore that twilight might meet them while kayaking back to shore.
  • Fishing: Aside from the traffic of fishermen that can prevent you from getting enough catch, you may get a limited species of fish when you go fishing in the daytime. To get unique species of fish (species that are likely nocturnal), you can go fishing at night.

2. Do You Need Light Under Full Moon?

Some people say that when the moon is bright, you do not need light as you are still fairly visible. Well, your kayak lights should remain on whenever you go kayaking at night.

The lights can repel animals and also help people to know your direction.

3. Will a Nocturnal Animal Attack You While Kayaking at Night?

As long as they do not view you as a threat, nocturnal animals should leave you alone as they might be afraid of you. Even if you want to view or observe nocturnal animals, you should do so from a distance and very carefully.

4. Should You Go Kayaking At Night with a Phone?

Having a phone with you while kayaking is very important. Your phone is the combination of a flashlight, GPS, map, and guide. Even if you have a book guide, you can snap or scan relevant pages in the guide so that you don’t have to go kayaking with too many items.

Most importantly, you can use your phone to call for help or send relevant information to people.

5. What If the Lights Are Giving You Poor Vision?

When you are exposed to bright light at night, you may start having poor vision especially when the light is turned off. You can sometimes turn off your headlamp and flashlight.

As for the red and green light, they should face only the sides of the kayak and do not have to be 360° like the bow light. When the red and green lights face only the sides of the kayak, they will not disturb your vision.