It sounds like you may not yet know what your kayaking ambitions may be (type of water, distance, to goof around or explore or have thrills. A club often has some beginner events where there may be rentals. The folks leading the outing may know some of what more advanced things the club does. After talking you can ask them about gear and learning. After a couple easy outings you may want to ask about lessons in your area. Depending on how well you know by then what you want to do and depending on how good their rentals are you can decide whether to buy a boat before taking lessons or later. When ready to buy you can save money by getting a nice used boat. Then in a year or so you may find you know more and want a newer boat which could then be a brand new one or used.
If you already know in more detail what you want to do then folks here may be able to help, but nothing beats locals on the scene who may be the ones you paddle a lot with eventually.
Include www.meetup.com based clubs when looking around.
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
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