I would have to say, no, there's really not a 'swiss army knife of boating,' your best bet is some kind of river running boat, usually what people start out with. Your best bet is to get a used one for two or three hundred bucks, and start with that. An older model play boat works great, because they run rapids and play well, although when you get into creeking, like, class IV and up stuff, its way easier to piton and you go kind of deep off drops and stuff. but by that point you should be ready to by a full on creek boat. Or, if you get more into play boating, by the time you start getting really good at surfing I guess you'd be ready to bye a newer play boat.
Also note that taking a ducky down a class III is probably several orders of magnitude easier than a real kayak.