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Is Canoe a Rowing Boat? (All You Need to Know)

If you are into water sports, surely you know about canoes. Canoes are boats that are mostly used in water sports. Also, adventurous people prefer canoes for racing, camping, exploring, and sightseeing.

Canoes are pretty durable and your best companion for water adventures. If you are thinking of buying one, you might be a bit confused as you also have the option of rowboats available in the market.

Both of them are pretty different, but due to some minor similarities, you might be a bit confused. Many people also think that canoe is a type of rowing boat. But this concept is not true.

So, to clarify everything and prove that canoes are not rowing boats, let us discover the features of it so that you can be assured with your purchase.

Is Canoe a Rowing Boat?

A Canoe is entirely different from a rowing boat. These are two different kinds of boats. Canoes are very narrow and lightweight and driven by paddlers manually. While rowing boats follow a different mechanism. Here, the boat moves with the motion of oars automatically by displacing water.

Here’s why a canoe is not a rowing boat

There are a lot of differences between both of these boats. These differences make them both unique and different from each other. That’s why a canoe is not a rowing boat.


The design of a canoe is entirely different from a rowboat. A rowboat is just like a normal traditional boat which is made out of thin wood.

Canoes are special boats that are lightweight and shallow. Both ends are sharp and pointed. Canoes are especially used in sports for their structure.


Canoes are made with different materials. Previously, canoes are used by savages and made with solid bark wood. In the modern world, you will find canoes in metal, steel, wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic.

But rowboats are made out of thin wood, which has cross upsets for seating. These boats gets damaged in the long run and easily get destroyed. If you want a boat for long-term usage, then you should not go for rowboats.


Canoes are best for camping, touring, and sports activities. These are made more durable to do such things.

A rowboat is not that durable and used for normal tasks such as fishing, port works, etcetera.

Process of drive:

Canoes cannot run automatically. Here you must need paddlers, but rowboats move automatically with oars.


Canoes are available in different sizes. In competitions, a big size canoe can even hold more than 20 people. You will also find bigger canoes than that. Rowboats are very small in size and suitable for only 2 to 3 people.

So now it is clear that canoes are not rowing boats. Rowing boats are mainly traditional boats which are used for normal usage, but canoes are the special ones which are for recreation and sports.

What is a Canoe?

The canoe is a kind of boat. These are pretty lightweight open vessels. Both ends of a canoe are sharp and pointed.

If riding on a canoe attracts you, then get ready for some physical exercise. These boats are driven by paddling.

Canoes are propelled by one or more paddlers for pleasure, sports, racing, touring, or any sort of competition.

A fun fact is that the British called it Kayak to distinguish it from its Canadian background. Now don’t get confused between a kayak and a canoe.

What is a Rowboat?

So, if you don’t like physical exercise, then rowboats are here at your service. These boats are pretty small and lightweight.

They are driven with the help of oars. So here, a bit of science is used while canoes are driven manually by paddlers.

This is a very common type of water vehicle in fishing camps, ports, and dockyards.

Difference between a rowing boat and a canoe

If you are looking forward to buying a boat and options are limited to rowing boats and canoe, then probably you are a bit confused to choose the right one for you as both seem quite similar.

Your choice needs to be motivated by your requirements. So, let us explore 6 differences between these two to make your work easier.

Basic difference

Canoes are boats that are driven by paddlers, while rowboats are driven with the motion of oars.


Cones are not only lightweight, but they can hold more than 2 peddlers and available in different sizes.

Rowboats are usually pretty small in size. Thus, they cannot hold more than 2 people.

Another interesting thing is, the oars that we have on rowboats are larger than the paddles of a canoe.

Durability and usage

Canoes are mostly used in the competition such as boat racing and water sports. Also, for entertainment purposes such as campouts, sightseeing, and touring, etcetera. So, they are pretty robust and durable.

But rowboats are not that much equipped to do all such things. These are very common and available in fishing camps and ports for normal usage.


Canoes have attractive and luxurious designs with an expensive price tag. But rowboats are not luxurious looking and also do not have a heavy impact on your pocket.


Both ends of a canoe is sharp and pointed, which makes it great for racing. On the other hand, a rowboat is a little watercraft of thin woods that has cross upsets for sitting.


To propel a canoe, you need paddlers to do everything manually, whereas the process to propel a rowboat is rather mechanical. The oars of a rowboat displace water which helps the boat to move forward.

Now you clearly know the difference between a canoe and a rowing boat. So, it is easier for you to choose the perfect boat as per your wish.

You can easily convert a Canoe for Rowing. Here’s how!

Can one person row a canoe?

The answer is Yes. All you need One person can row or paddle a canoe. People often think that it is pretty difficult to paddle a canoe alone.

Also, most people believe that you need at least two people for canoeing, but these are myths only. Do not fall for them.

Though these are true for a standard canoe but by following an easy method called J Stroke, you can easily paddle your small-sized one alone.

As you know the trick, just use it. So, to enjoy your time, you do not need a partner or need to be dependent on someone.

Can two persons row a canoe?

Yes, canoeing works best when there are two people on the boat. Most canoes are made for two people.

Two people can paddle a canoe better than even 3 because here, the weight is equally balanced on both sides, and also, the entire process becomes more efficient.

If you want to buy a two-person canoe, then remember that these are the best sellers in the market, followed by 3 and 1.

How to row a canoe?

If you follow a few steps correctly, rowing or paddling a canoe is not at all a hard task. These steps are also fairly easy.

Remember one thing, if the atmosphere is bad or stormy, then driving a canoe alone is pretty difficult. But many experienced ones in this field suggest that you can manage canoeing alone by kneeling in the middle of the boat. But in reality, this is quite hard.

So, let us discover the steps.

Step 1: First, just hold your canoe and take it into the water.

Step 2: Now, just sit on the bow seat that is in the middle of the canoe. This position will help to maintain the balance properly. Otherwise, you will not be able to move properly.

Step 3: With both hands, hold the paddle tight. One hand should hold the top of the paddle, and another one should be just at the top of the blade. It is completely your call which hand you want to use for what purpose.

Step 4: Now, spread both your hands completely and dip the blade of the paddle completely into the water. Then gradually start rotating the paddle.

Step 5: You have to do paddling in a way that the blade remains parallel to the side of the canoe. To maintain this, you always need to move the paddle exactly at a 90-degree angle.

Step 6: Now, just do the paddling. Just dip the blade in the water, move it to the backward, and then to the forward. Just start following the same process again and again.

So, with these 6 easy steps, you can become a master of paddling. So now you are all set to be a master of paddling.

Is canoe considered a boat?

Canoes are absolutely considered as boats. There are different types of watercrafts available in the world. The canoe is one of them, but it is different from the traditional ones. This might create confusion among people.

Cones are boats that are specially created for recreational purposes. With canoes, you can engage in adventurous water sports, camping, touring, and so on.

That is not possible with a normal boat. So, don’t get confused. Canoes are also boats. If you have one, then surely you own a special piece.

Whether you are a boat enthusiast or a water sport, you need to have detailed knowledge of different boats. This knowledge will never let you down.

It will help you to make the right choice when you are going to choose a boat for you. People might think that canoes actually fall into the category of rowing boats.

Whereas the reality is completely different. Now you also know that. So, for further clarity, go through the entire guide. This will surely help you to get rid of all the confusion that you have regarding canoes and rowing boats.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are canoes good for fishing?

Can you row a canoe?

Is canoeing an individual sport?

What is a pack boat canoe?