Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Last updated date: September 11, 2019

DWYM Score
8.7

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We looked at the top 1 Kayaks and dug through the reviews from 10 of the most popular review sites including BestReviews, Outdoor Veteran, Globo Turf, Best Reviews Guide, Cast and Spear and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Kayak you should buy.

Overall Take

This family-friendly kayak can fit two adults and a child or dog for a fun outdoor adventure. You can also reconfigure it for solo trips. It's light, easy to handle and rugged enough for almost any river conditions. Though some say that it's slower and more expensive than other options, that extra cash buys you extra seats and a little more stability. In our analysis of 70 expert reviews, the Ocean Kayak Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top placed 4th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note September 11, 2019:
Checkout The Best Kayak for a detailed review of all the top kayaks.

Expert Summarized Score
8.7
10 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.7
110 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Seating area can accommodate two adults and a child or a dog. Easy to use - aimed at beginners and recreational users.
- BestReviews
While the Malibu Two is designed to carry two people, Ocean Kayak made sure it could also be handled solo. Being able to reconfigure the seats to put the solo paddler in the center of the boat is a nice upgrade that makes this a good purchase for people who aren’t sure how often they’ll be bringing a friend along.
- Outdoor Veteran
November 7, 2017 | Full review
It is worth noting that since the kayak is built for 2 or 3 persons to use, it can still work well if you’re out alone.
- Kayak Guru
The Malibu Two is a bit of a no-frills option from Ocean Kayak and is fairly compact for a tandem. The smaller size makes it lighter and easier to handle outside of the water, so it’s a bit more convenient for quick trips.
- Outventurist
The design of this top rated sea ocean kayak is what makes it stand out. There are perfectly placed carrying handles along with gear straps and even a skid plate. All of these things add to the durability and longevity of this boat. The skid plate ensures that the bottom of the boat stays intact even on rocky shores.
- Globo Turf
The best thing about this kayak is that it can hold two people, or two people and a child or a small dog. This means you have plenty of recreational options for your family, in the one boat.
- Kayak Best
It’s rugged. We’re extremely impressed with how well-built the Ocean Kayak is, particularly given the reasonable price tag. There’s a huge difference in quality between this and the cheaper models we’ve reviewed. We think it’s well worth paying a bit extra.
- Best Kayak Reviews
The seating design allows for solo paddling or with company, and the seats are built for comfort. The area is spacious too, and the hull and deck design makes stacking convenient for several hulls.
- Kayak Help
Overlapping foot wells allows center seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably.
- Cast and Spear
What experts didn't like
Higher prices than other models because of two seats. Not much area for storing gear with two paddlers.
- BestReviews
It’s not very fast, and while that is a true of most sit-on-top boats, this is a particularly slow one. However, that weakness is balanced out by its incredible stability, which is a must for tandem boats that might be carrying a newbie paddler (and especially if you and your friend are both new!).
- Outdoor Veteran
November 7, 2017 | Full review
The kayak is a bit pricier than the competition. It makes up for it by being more spacious and sturdier than most though.
- Kayak Guru
One downside to its compact size is there’s not a lot of onboard storage space, so the Malibu Two is better suited to shorter trips that don’t require much extra gear.
- Outventurist
This kayak does not have much in the way of storage. If you’re storing your paddles on the boat, you won’t have much room for anything else, unless you take it out solo and use the extra seating for storage.
- Kayak Best
There aren’t any storage compartments below deck. The storage space above deck is also fairly limited, since most of the onboard space is dedicated to the seats.
- Best Kayak Reviews
Lacks storage space.
- Kayak Help

From The Manufacturer

This popular tandem sit-on-top kayak, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two, is perfect for affordable family adventure. Enjoy sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak's three seating positions, which support solo, tandem, or tandem paddling with a child or pet. A pair of Comfort Plus seats provide four-way adjustability, generating a custom fit and greater slip prevention over molded seats. Patented overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably. The open, sit-on-top hull makes it easy to get on and off the kayak and includes a pair of molded-in handles and skid plate. Maximum capacity of 425 pounds; measures 12 feet long and 34 inches wide. Lifetime warranty on the hull.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
Overall Score: 9.2
Expert Reviews: 8
2. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
Overall Score: 9.0
Expert Reviews: 6
3. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
Overall Score: 8.7
Expert Reviews: 7
5. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 8
6. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 6
7. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Overall Score: 8.4
Expert Reviews: 4
8. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 4
9. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 5
10. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak
Overall Score: 7.4
Expert Reviews: 2

An Overview On Kayaks

Kayaking is a great all-around workout for anyone who loves spending time on the water. Since you have to stay upright and shift your body weight to make turns, kayaking can improve your balance and core strength. You’ll also get a back and arm workout from navigating with your paddles — and you’ll never have to set foot inside of a gym.

Many people think of whitewater rapids and intense trips down speeding rivers when they hear the word “kayak.” In reality, the sport is accessible to everyone, including recreational wave riders and fishermen.

There are two major categories of kayaks: sit-on-tops and sit-ins. Sit-on-tops, like the Ocean Kayak Malibu, are recreational kayaks that work well in lakes and calm rivers. They’re easy to get on, comfortable in warm weather and self-draining. Some sit-on-tops, like the Ocean Kayak Prowler, have features like rod holders for fishing.

Sit-in kayaks, like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak, are quick-moving boats that you sit inside of as you paddle. Since you can shift your weight to help you steer, they’re a little more efficient and easier to control than sit-on kayaks. Sit-in kayaks will also keep you warmer during chilly weather. However, you’ll have to make sure that your sit-in kayak has a drain or built-in pump to remove water.

Many kayaks are designed for just one rider. The Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak is a sit-in kayak that’s perfect for sportsmen or recreational riders. For those times when two is better than one, Ocean Kayak’s Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak has enough room for you and a friend to explore the water. There’s even a little extra room for your favorite mutt.  

Fishing kayaks are generally narrower, making it easier to maneuver into tight spaces when you’re on the hunt for your next big catch. The Ocean Kayak Prowler is a slim 28 inches. It also comes in a brown camo shade that’s perfect for blending in with the trees and plants around your fish. You don’t have to sacrifice storage in this kayak’s sleek shape: The Click Seal front hatch offers easy access to bow-to-stern internal storage.

Kayaking can be a great add-on to an outdoor hiking or camping adventure, but lugging a kayak around can limit your explorations. You can carry Sevylor’s Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak as a backpack with two paddle slots on each side, and then set it up in five minutes when you find that perfect spot on the river. The rugged construction is perfect for rigorous lakes, D-rings and bungee storage help you carry more gear for more fun.

There are still other considerations to make once you’ve decided what general type of kayak you’d like to buy. Our Tips & Advice will help you iron out the details so you can start paddling.

DYWM Fun Fact

The first kayaks weren’t used for recreation — they were used to help their owners survive. The Inuit and Aleut people of Arctic North America started building their own kayaks to hunt in frigid coastal waters like the Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

First, they’d create a wood or whalebone frame that was large enough to hold the kayaker and balanced enough to remain stable in unpredictable currents. They’d use their own arm lengths to determine the correct frame size. Then they’d stretch hearty animal skins, like stitched seal skins, over the frame. The kayak’s paddles were shaped from driftwood.

Today, most kayaks are made in factories in less than a week. We don’t rely on kayaks to feed ourselves anymore, but being on the water is a much-needed escape back to nature.

The Kayak Buying Guide

  • What are you going to use your kayak for? If you’re interested in casual use for a lakeside vacation home or for your kids, a sit-on-top kayak like Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a top choice. Kayakers who want a swift solo vessel should check out a lightweight, sit-in option like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak. Fishing fanatics will benefit from a kayak that can store tackle boxes, bait wells and fishing rods, like the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak.
  • If you plan on taking to the water every weekend, paying for a top-notch choice like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak isn’t a big deal. However, if you’ll only use your kayak every once in a while, Sevylor’s Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak is an affordable option that doesn’t compromise on quality.
  • Kayaking isn’t only about your kayak. You’ll need additional safety equipment if you want to take on rivers, lakes and streams. A Coast Guard-approved life jacket, sun-shielding hats and sunscreen, neoprene footwear and swimwear are all essentials. Many beginner kayakers also choose to wear helmets.
  • You won’t get very far in your kayak if you don’t choose the right paddles. Your own height and your boat’s width will determine the length of your paddles, and paddle weight is also important. Lighter paddles made of carbon-fiber or fiberglass will reduce fatigue, but they’re pricier than plastic or nylon paddles. You can also choose from a variety of shaft shapes, and you can pick from two or four-piece shafts that break down for storage.
  • Make sure you have a safe place to store your kayak when it’s not in use. You can just roll up inflatable kayaks, like the Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak, and store them in a cool, dry place. Hard-shell kayaks, like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak, should preferably be stored indoors. However, if you have to keep your hard-shell kayak outside, find a place that limits your kayak’s exposure to sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures.
  • Keep your kayak clean for optimal performance and a fresh look whenever you hit the water. You can use special kayak soap or mild soap and water to keep the inside and outside of your boat in tip-top shape. Make sure to give your entire kayak a thorough rinse if you’ve paddled through brackish water or frequently travel through salt water.