List Of 18 Popular Water Sports Or Activities In All Over The World

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 1, 2022
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Some of the popular water sports/activities of the world are Kite Surfing, Scuba diving, Windsurfing, Parasailing, kayaking, Water Skiing, etc.

Key Takeaways

  • Water sports are usually done in or on the water and it includes swimming, diving, surfing, and other activities on or in the water.
  • Diving requires the combination of other sports disciplines such as gymnastics, a lot of discipline, and concentration
  • Water Polo requires a lot of strength and skill that involve the game and its rules, on water
  • The sailing boats are known as regattas and it is a very popular water sport in the Netherlands

What Are Water Sports (And Types)?

We call water sports any sport or physical activity developed in the water, such as swimming in all its variants, but also below the surface (like diving) or on top of it (windsurfing, paddling, etc.)They can be individual or in groups (water polo), practiced in swimming pools, rivers, lakes, seas, or oceans. Some of them need special equipment (boards, underwater fishing fins, boats, kayaks) and for others, you only need a swimsuit (such as water polo trunks) and only water. 

The term water sports has a broad spectrum of meanings, but in general, it is a form of recreation that includes:

The term is often used to refer to competitive aquatic sporting events such as the Olympic Games. Water sports can also be used as a type of recreation for physical education classes or camps for children and teens.

Athletics, in general, are frequently referred to as “water sports”. The term originally encompassed all forms of sport involving water but now only refers to watersports such as swimming, diving, boating, and sailing.

List Of Water Sports (Popular)

The most popular types of water sports that people participate in are scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing.

1. Sailing.

2. Kite Surfing.

3. Scuba diving.

4. Snorkeling.

5. Windsurfing.

6. Parasailing.

7. Kayaking.

8. Surfing.

9. Water Skiing.

10. Stand-Up Paddling.

Water Sports With Overview

There are more than 90 disciplines of water sports that placed their foot in the Olympic event, but it is difficult to say how many more exist, since every day new water sports are invented and modern equipment is used also.

That’s why in this article we offer you a list of popular water sports options so you can consider if you are thinking of exercising or expanding your repertoire of water sports practiced.

1. Swimming In Open Water

Swimming in open water

As its name implies, it is a sub-discipline of swimming that consists of swimming in places like seas, lakes, and rivers. It is usually a widespread exercise since it is part of the stages of the triathlon, as well as there are athletes dedicated exclusively to this modality inclusive, it is a discipline of competition in the Olympic Games. It is essential that if you plan to immerse yourself in this world, always count on security systems that monitor you, or even try to do it in a group.

2. Swimming In A Pool

Swimming in a pool

It is one of the best-known and practiced water sports in the world; this sport is ideal for those looking to tone and reduce sizes if you want to lose weight you can include it in your exercise routines. Its efficiency is because you put into operation all the extremities and muscles of the body, including the mind. Its long historical trajectory makes it one of the aquatic sports with the highest number of international competitions recognized by the International Swimming Federation. 

3. Diving


Jumps or dives are a form of high-risk sport or entertainment that consists of jumping from a platform of different heights. These forms of water sports require the combination of other sports disciplines such as gymnastics, a lot of discipline, and concentration.

4. Water Polo

water polo

It is the water sports that are practiced in the pool, which faces two teams. Its purpose is to score the highest number of goals; each team has six members and a goalkeeper. It is a sport that requires a lot of strength and skill since of course you must perfectly master the skills such as swimming, to coordinate all the necessary movements that involve the game and its rules, on water.

5. Canoeing


Canoeing is practiced in a light boat, which is propelled by one, two, or four people depending on the type of boat on which they are. On the kayak, people use two leaves to drive the team and in the canoe, they only use a boat leaf.

6. Rowing


Rowing is one of the water sports that is also practiced without touching the water since they are carried out on a boat that they must propel with the use of oars. There are several modalities, and the most popular is that of 4 rowers, each with two paddles, and the pattern of two rowers each with an oar. 

7. Sailing


Sailing is a sport that is practiced on the water, but it is considered a water sport, whose intention is to direct and propel the boat by the simple action that the wind exerts on the sail. The boats are called regattas. Originally it was a leisure activity for many of the inhabitants of European coasts, mainly of the Netherlands.

8. Water Motorcycle

water motorcycle

If you love extreme sports, but you also enjoy the water, this is one of the water sports that you will surely like. The boat on which maneuver is the water motorcycle, with which runs and pirouettes are carried out. The key and the challenge lies in achieving maneuvering over the conditions imposed by the sea, ocean, lakes, rivers with currents, swells, and risky movements. Its main disciplines are speed on the high seas, speed on the coast, and endurance, in addition to rally racing. 

9. Surfing


It is one of the best-known and most popular water sports in the world, known for its beach lifestyle, carefree, and speed. However, beyond practicing as a hobby, in the last decades, it has been practiced professionally. Its objective is to slide on the waves of the sea stand on a board, performing pirouettes that require a lot of balance and precision. 

10. Water Ski

water ski

The combination of surfing and skiing gives rise to one of the most fun water sports. Speed is one of the protagonists who also requires good reflexes and balance which makes some benefits of the sport. To practice, it requires great strength in the feet and arms. However, it has been an unpopular sport, since you need a boat to be able to propel you.

11. Hydrospeed


Hydrospeed is like rafting, but more daring. Each participant has their own small boat with which it descends downstream. And we say “boat” to say something because they are usually small rafts or floats, similar to lifebuoys.

These floats are either round in size or have a sharp, pointed bow, but they are always too small for the person to fit, so the legs are left out in the water. And better, because thanks to the fins you can control better the course the raft takes.

12. Wakeboarding


Do you know what water skiing is? Well, replace the skis with a surfboard, and you’ll have wakeboarding because wakeboarding is exactly, water skiing on board. 

A motorboat pulls a rope to the surfer at speeds of 20-30 km per hour, just enough to enjoy, but also to do stunts if someone dares. 

They are not the same boards that we use in surfing. These are more resistant and more robust construction, although here there are also several models, according to the tastes of each.

We anticipate that it is not easy to stay on the wakeboard, and it takes time to learn to place yourself on the board while the boat or the motorcycle accelerates and performs maneuvers.

13. Paddle surfing

Paddle surfing

Paddle surfing: a discipline in which the surfer is standing on the board and navigates using a paddle. Very popular in the part of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia (in general in Oceania) and in Australia, and finally now it has also entered wholly into our country. An ideal sport to practice in Mediterranean or Cantabrian waters, but also in calm lakes and rivers.

Use long and wide tables in which you can even practice yoga or bring children and pets comfortably.

It does not require specialized training, which is why it is popular with tourists or occasional athletes who, instead of using their inflatable paddleboard, rent one per hour.

14. Underwater hockey

Underwater hockey

Its name says it all: hockey, but in the pool and under the water. It was invented in the last century, in Britain.

The stick is different than traditional hockey; in fact, it is instead a stick tip 30 centimeters long and 3 inches wide. With it, the disc is pushed 1.2 kg.

The funny thing is that there are 3 referees in each game, two in the water (called aquatic referees) and one observing from the edge of the pool, this bears the name of the chief referee.

15. Flyboarding

fly boarding

Fly board is pure madness. You fly in a hoverboard connected to a jet ski via an 18-23 meter hose. The power of the turbine of the scooter is used to create two jets of water under pressure that raise you above the surface of the water and allow control of the flight path. The motor makes the water flow from the motorcycle towards some nozzles of your boots and the jet of water makes you fly up to 18 meters or submerge below the surface up to 2 or 3 meters. Flyboard was invented by the world champion in water bikes Franky Zapata in 2011 and since then every year new improvements that allow more and more crazy stunts. 

16. Descent in rivers (Rafting)


This is a summer star sport in the mountainous regions. Nothing releases so much adrenaline as a vertiginous descent downstream, paddling with all the forces while the small raft tumbles in the waves, dodging vortices and crags. 

The rivers that descend from the mountain, streams of white water (so-called because of the foam that appears because of the speed that the water takes when it crashes against the rocks) are ideal for this activity.

Such is the popularity of this sport worldwide, that there is even an international classification of the rivers, according to their degree of difficulty. Thus you will find flat waters, without whirlpools or waves, for a calm and relaxed descent.  And the dance begins, so-called fast, whitewater rivers. Class III, IV, V, and VI. Intermediate, difficult, expert, and extremely difficult, respectively. The most important thing in the sport of rafting: never go out without a life jacket, and in white water do not forget the protective helmet.

17. Bodysurfing

body surfing

Surfing in its pure state, without a board, without boogie. It is the surfer’s own body that slides through the waves. We talk about bouncing waves or running waves to the chest. Some athletes use fins for feet and hands. The hand boards are very advisable in the practice of this sport, and they help to gain speed and stay on the wave. A neoprene suit will be another advisable investment for amateur bodysurfers.

The discipline of bodysurfing is known since ancient times but became popular in the early years of the 21st century.

Doing bodysurfing is not easy, it requires a supreme command of swimming, resistance, control of breathing, and body.

18. Bodyboarding

body board

A variation of the surf. The bodyboarding board is smaller and of construction visibly different. The bodysurfers use fins to push the board while paddling to catch a wave and then, once on the wave wall, as a rudder. 

Similarly, in other modalities of surfing, moorings are used: a safety rope that joins the board and the hand (usually the biceps or the wrist) of the surfer (there is someone who calls it “invention”).

The three modalities of boogie board surfing or bodyboarding are: prone (the surfer is lying face down on the board, with his legs in the water), drop knee (in a kneeling posture), and stand-up (standing).

The original name was boogie board, which – being a trademark – gave way to the most popular name bodyboard.


If you consider that in some past life, you were an amphibian, it is because you surely love the water and enjoy a dip. Whether at sea, in a river, a lagoon or a pool, the possibility of experiencing and exercising at the same time, are endless and although some may be more extreme than others, in general, they are all fun and very good to keep us in shape.

So, if you are a lover of water and physical activities, you might consider learning some of these disciplines daily or as a water sport to do when you are on vacation or have free time.



Leave a Comment