We've had our Hobie Kona for about a year now and mostly use it on the Sacramento River near our home in Red Bluff, CA. We also have two Maui kayaks and love them for their light weight and ease of handling. It's nice to be able to lift the boat by yourself and get out on the water without a partner. The Kona requires my better half and I to both load and unload it.
The kayak is designed for two of course and it's just a dream on the water -- I would much rather paddle this boat tandem than our Maui's and our cousin's Odyssey. It's fast and stable and accelerates from rest to cruise really quickly. It's got lots of room and makes for a wonderful boat to spend the day on the water. Highly recommend it!I bought a Hobie Kona a week or so ago (after much research on the internet). I have taken it out a few times now and have found that its features are what really turns me on about this kayak. It is light, very easy to transport to the water either on roof wracks or cart wheels. It is easy to push forward with 2 people or one and my dog enjoys the ride!
I really like the clips for the paddles and inclusion of drink bottles. The rubber lines on the stern for stowing the wheels whilst paddling and the 2 hatches for keeping important things dry are great features. I appreciate the fact that it came inclusive with paddles which are weel crafted and very light.
Another major plus is the seats. They provide wonderful support for the back and I am able to maintain a comfortable posture and adjust the seats for any friends whom may come for a paddle with me.
Its stability makes it easy for me as a newbie and I can't wait to use it barramundi fishing in season. It's easy to see why Hobie is a world leader in catamarans as the attention to intelligent design and craftsmanship is outstanding.
It's only real downfall for me is the cost in Australian dollars.Purchased the Kona about a year ago to use primarily as a sea kayak, but have also used it in the river/mangrove. We also own an Odyssey and have use both in similar conditions. The Kona is not as fast, but much more stable in the sea and maneuverable in small areas.
We regularly load the Kona with two adults and a small child, and the kayak remains stable and dry. The extra weight does affect speed due to the angle of the bow in the water.
I have found a little trouble tracking straight in windy conditios with strong currents, in most instances this is not an issue.
In conclusion, this is a very good all purpose kayak, and I would not trade the stability and compact size for the speed of a longer kayak. My wife and I have owned a pair of Konas for about 3 months. We've been out several times on the James River. A little stretch between natural bridge and Glasgow. The first time out, moderate class 2 in high water, 5.53 and rising. The Kona was very stable with lots of storage options. Even with all the storage, I wouldn’t recommend a long trip. With a moderate breeze blowing against us, the k2 was never hard to steer, track or get set for the next rapid.
On another April day we ventured farther down stream through Snowden. The river is not as mellow through this section. I had no problems. My wife on the other hand flipped upside down, nearly loosing all gear. I don't know if it was the yak or her inabilities. Curious to see how it'll handle the river...or how the river will handle it. Thus far I’ve liked everything about the Kona. I rate it a 10 as long as it continues to hold up on the James River.Just bought a Kona 2 weeks ago for my wife and I, and we love it. I've been paddling on and off for years since my youth, mainly in the more traditional "sit-in" type, and this is by far one of the more enjoyable rides there is. Plenty of room for both of us to stretch our legs, storage and molded-in cup holders and gear holders, make this kayak convenient. One of the better features is the molded on-hull "chine" that each of the paddles are bungeed onto, very nice for beaching, storage etc....
Works great in surf or choppy water, our first day out was in 2-3' wind chop/waves (whatever you want to call it in south florida) right off the beach. Tracks nicely and paddles easily without too much drag as in some sit on top kayaks, but maintains great stability--I performed the stand up and walk around test. It's short enough that it still maintains maneuverability. Also works very well as a solo 'yak, just move one of the included seats to the center and strap in, just took it through some mangroves today solo, pretty speedy with one person so it takes advantage of the rocker, and the forward hull design "slices" water rather than "plow" (makes a cool sound too).
Transports easily, slapped on a thule roof rack on my bmw e30, and even for a small car, the kona does not protrude from the rear at all, nice and compact. One flaw though is the molded in "handles" for carrying solo. Unlike ocean kayak brand's handles, you cannot wrap your hand around the handle because it's not molded all the way through the hull, just part way. This makes carrying solo kind of awkward.
All in all however, a great kayak for days at the beach, lake or bay. Would not recommend for camping/long touring excursions due to lack of storage area. There is enough storage though to place maybe a cooler on the rear deck, something small on the bow, and whatever you can fit in a 8" hatch. We load it with snorkel gear perfectly fine. (If used solo though, there is immensely more area for on-deck storage). Paid $950 for the deluxe with everything, and was worth every penny. Can't go wrong with the kona. We purchased the Kona to have some fun in Barnegat Bay in NJ. It fits the bill perfectly. The Kona is very stable and handles the wakes from the other watercraft easily. It handles well solo or with two paddlers. I took my brother-in-law, who never kayaked before, on a 90 minute ride. He went right out and bought a Kona because they are so much fun.
The storage, tie downs and other features seem very well engineered. You do get wet in the bay and you can paddle in less that a foot of water even with two people in the kayak.
The Kona Deluxe comes with seats, paddles and water bottles. I'm sure there are better kayaks for other purposes, but the Hobie Kona is just about the perfect recreational kayak.