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CALIFORNIA SPORTS PARADISE
Your portal to outdoor sports in California
CALIFORNIA'S ON-LINE MAGAZINE FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS

DAY HIKING
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ROAD BIKING
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MOUNTAIN BIKING
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Northern Sierras
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PADDLE SPORTS
Northern Coast
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Northern Sierras
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SURFING
Northern Coast
Central Coast
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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST'S BEST PADDLING

GENERAL INFORMATION

An experienced paddler might think all of our safety warnings are a little too much. However, a novice can be easily lulled into thinking his skill level is greater than it really is. It's the old "Anybody can do that" syndrome. Let me tell you from experience, anybody can NOT do that. It takes a lot of preparation and experience to ride whitewater and every year many wannabe whitewater paddlers are found dead along the banks of California's rivers. We don't want that to happen to you. So, please check river conditions carefully before putting in and never let your ego get the best of you.

At most of the spots listed below you will be able to rent equipment nearby and/or hire an experienced and skilled guide. If you are a novice, seriously consider this. At least take the time to listen to the advice given by the company renting the equipment to you. A reputable rental agency will place your safety over their profits any day.

All that said, go out and have a good, but safe, paddling trip in...CALIFORNIA - SPORTS PARADISE.

MORRO BAY

I've been visiting Morro Bay since I was five years old. In fact, my parents lived here for awhile back in the late seventies and early eighties. Morro Bay is a small, working, harbor town that also enjoys the benefits of tourism. Though it's grown a lot since I was five and you can no longer camp along the beach like we could back then, Morro Bay has retained its friendly small town feel.

Paddling in the sheltered bay is especially easy for kids with an abundance of marinelife and waterfowl to see. The salt marsh and slough at the south end of town is a good spot for paddling with many miles of wetland channels.

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Unlike Elkhorn up by Moss Landing, low tides here can leave you stuck in the mud for hours. So, plan ahead, watch the tide tables, and enjoy watching all sorts of interesting waterfowl such as loons, wigeons, pintails, geese, buffleheads, canvasbacks, and the rare brown pelican. Peregrine falcons nest in the crags of the 800 foot high volcanic cap dome which gives the town and the bay its name, so you're likely to spot several. Great Blue Herons nest in the eucalyptus trees nearby. In the shallow waters of the marsh you're likely to spot lots of fish, rays and even small sharks.

SANTA BARBARA

Beginners can paddle in the shelter of Refugio Point, while the more advanced sea kayakers will take the 15 mile trip all the way from Gaviota State Park to El Capitan State Park. Along the route you'll find many beaches accessible only from the water or very difficult trails. The diving and fishing in the kelp beds along the way are also great, if you're so inclined. California Gray whales veer close to shore here during spring protecting their newborn calves from predators so you're likely to spot some spouts.

During winter swells Refugio and El Capitan both offer good kayak surfing.

SANTA MONICA BAY

Put in at Redondo Harbor and explore the open sea toward Palos Verdes or along the breakwater. You'll see seals, sea lions, and possibly dolphins.

Surfrider Point is a good kayaking spot, but don't go near the surfers. It could be dangerous. Instead paddle around the point and up towards Malibu to go Madonna watching. You might even see something REALLY interesting like a whale or some rare seabirds.

CATALINA ISLAND

26 miles off the California Coast lies a veritable kayaking paradise. There are numerous coves and beaches, and enough rocky coastline to keep you busy exploring nooks and crannies for years. We recommend renting a kayak here as it's just too big of a pain to cart your own over on the ferry. If you're married to your equipment, be prepared to endure a lot of hassle and extra expense ferrying it over.

If you're paddling out of Avalon, Seal Rock is a good destination and offers good snorkeling, too. If you're interested in an overnight trip, look to Land's End at the westernmost part of the island. It'll take you most of a day to paddle there from Twin Harbors, but the camping and snorkeling is great. On good days, the underwater visibility off Catalina can be over 100 feet.

If you want to consider taking a guided tour, a typical-half day trip from Avalon, including kayak rental, snorkeling, and lunch, costs about $60.00 to $70.00. For self-guided paddling you can find rentals by the hour or day for either "sit on tops" or decked kayaks.

CHANNEL ISLANDS

Though less well known than Catalina, the Channel Islands offer crystal clear water, breathtaking shoreline cliffs, rock arches, and sea caves. Santa Cruz Island's Painted Cave is the largest sea cave in the world at about a quarter of a mile deep and is filled with sea lions. Take a headlamp if you plan on exploring this sea cave. It gets dark in this 50 foot high cavern.

Please, if exploring sea caves, be especially aware of swell conditions, headroom, and the tidal direction. Don't get caught unprepared.

We don't recommend paddling across the Santa Barbara Channel. It's just too far and a calm ocean can turn to deadly chop in a matter of minutes. Take a boat across from Ventura to Santa Barbara Island then enjoy paddling amongst the various islands. Overnight camping is available in the main park campground at Santa Cruz Island's East End. Expect to see sea caves, lots of marine life, isolated beaches, and even some whales.

Santa Rosa Island has the advantage of allowed beach camping at several spots, however depending upon what's breeding when, some spots may be closed at times. The disadvantage is high winds and waves, so you need to be experienced to kayak here.

To get the full benefit of all that the Channel Islands have to offer, you might consider a guided tour.

ORANGE COUNTY

Newport Bay is good for beginning kayakers. The wetlands area of the upper bay is a good spot for birdwatching and sighting stingrays. Try to stay away from the busy boat traffic in the main channels.

Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach offer rocky high cliffs dotted with many secluded coves with sandy beaches. Bring along your snorkel gear because this area is a diver's dream. It's easy to put in at Crystal Cove State Park, Main Beach in Laguna and also at Aliso Beach County Park in South Laguna.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY

The shallower parts of Mission Bay are excellent for paddling. Stay out of the deeper parts or you might get run over by a jet ski or a catamaran. The small bays near Fiesta Isle make for good paddling or you might want to head for the channels around the marsh at the north end of the bay. Here again, you'll want to know the tide or you might get stuck in the mud.

 



CALIFORNIA SPORTS PARADISE
Your portal to outdoor sports in California
CALIFORNIA'S ON-LINE MAGAZINE FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS


 
 
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