It is warm and trying to sort this out via a message board is more likely to leave you wasting money on a poor choice than satisfied. If you want to try more adventurous paddling - yes, the Pungo is not your boat. But you don't understand why.
You and your girl friend need to do this together by the way, not you making the decisions for her, if you want to have a mutual paddling experience long term.
The way to solve this is to actually get into boats and get some face time with a decent outfitter. You don't say where you are exactly, but a place like the one listed below that has quick start lessons with access to many boats to try, and maybe even some demos for sale, would be a good place to start.
Deck Rigging Gear
EZ-Dock modular docks
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