As the days grow longer and warmer in the Bay Area, the call to adventure grows stronger. One of the biggest advantages of living where we do is easy access to the ocean. For me, there’s no better way to enjoy the endless beauty of the sea than to paddle out toward the horizon in my kayak. There’s just something about being on the water and taking in coastal views from a different perspective that makes me feel free.Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or an absolute beginner, everyone can enjoy this activity. Here are my top places to kayak in the Bay Area:
SANTA CRUZ WHARF From the moment you push off from the dock, you’ll be rewarded with your first wildlife spotting. Dozens of harbor seals can be seen (and heard) lounging on the horizontal planks beneath the Santa Cruz Wharf. Once you’ve paddled out a bit and navigated yourself around the pier, the coastal views will astound you. The redwood studded mountains and rocky cliffs along the shore are a sight you won’t soon forget. Where to rent: Venture Quest is conveniently located on the Wharf and offers reasonably priced single and double person ocean kayaks.
MOSS LANDING – ELKHORN SLOUGH Elkhorn Slough is a seven-mile-long tidal slough and estuary that is considered to be one of the top 10 wildlife viewing destinations in North America! You’re almost guaranteed to see otters playfully swimming in the water or bobbing up from beneath the surface sporting curious expressions on their furry faces. With all the rain we’ve had recently, the rolling hills that border the estuary are a vibrant green dotted with colorful wildflowers. Where to rent: Kayak Connection has single, double, and triple person kayaks for rent. They also offer tons of tours with knowledgeable guides if you want to dig deeper into what makes this habitat so unique.
SAUSALITO Though the scenery is a bit more urban, the experience is no less fantastic. Kayaking here means you’ll have an opportunity to see some of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks from a truly unique vantage point. Whether you opt for a guided tour or decide to paddle out solo, the options for where to go are endless. You can head out toward Angel Island, paddle under the Golden Gate Bridge, float past the charming houseboats, circle Alcatraz Island, or simply enjoy the sun setting over the San Francisco Bay. Where to rent: Sea Trek Kayak & SUP is the most affordable rental place on this list. They have a large fleet of kayaks, which is especially convenient since they don’t accept reservations — it’s first come, first served.
TOMALES BAY This coastal inlet is the perfect place for a relaxing paddle. Plenty of wildlife can be observed from your kayak including pelicans, seals, and cranes. The surrounding coastline with its golden hillsides and grassy meadows is in near pristine condition. If you’re feeling really spunky, you can book an overnight kayak-in camping adventure on one of the bay’s remote beaches. Where to rent: Blue Waters Kayaking is a bit more expensive than some of the other rental places on this list, but the staff are caring and extremely knowledgeable.