Kayakity Yak (Don't Talk Back)
July 29, 2014 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Where are the best areas in the Southern California region for a new kayak owner to become familiar with kayaking?

My doctor’s office recently contacted me to let me know that I’ve tested positive for the early stages of DUDE WITH A KAYAK. We’re still discussing how best to manage my condition, but it appears that most of the treatments are focused on RAD KAYAKING ADVENTURES. Since this is not yet an advanced case, I’m thinking that these adventures should keep the risk of death low and the levels of humiliation light.

I live in the Los Angeles area, but I’m willing to travel as far up the coast as Monterey or as far down as San Diego. Where are the best spots for someone in my area who is just beginning to figure out kayaking to get his paddle on? I’m already researching and excited about Elkhorn Slough, so no need to list that.
posted by Parasite Unseen to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For just paddling around on flat water and practicing technique, Mission Bay in San Diego is pretty good. There's a few sections where water skiing is a thing, so you may have to contend with wake from speedboats and other annoyances, but there's a lot of room to paddle. I haven't done anything there, but San Diego Bay is probably less optimal with all the commercial shipping going through and Navy bases to avoid. There's always tons of people kayaking around La Jolla Cove - the water can be fairly clear, allowing you to see fish (Garibaldi, mostly) below you, and there's some sea caves.

Out of the box suggestion: the lee side of Catalina. If you have a truly gnarly kayak that can, like, hold stuff, there are a number of boat-in only campsites along the coast between Avalon and Two Harbors that you can reserve for overnight stays on shore. Closer to Two Harbors, there's a sea cave with two openings you can actually paddle through. Unless there's a Santa Ana, the water on the lee side (the side that faces LA and Orange County) is fairly calm and clear, but you're basically on open ocean. Some people are even tuff enuff to paddle all the way to Catalina, but that's kind of advanced.
posted by LionIndex at 4:06 PM on July 29, 2014

Bike and Kayak tours. In La Jolla. I assume no experience necessary, so maybe they offer a map or something for where an inexperienced person can go alone?
posted by Michele in California at 4:09 PM on July 29, 2014

Another vote for Catalina! Get there on the ferry and then kayak the perimeter. Last time I kayaked there I saw sea lions, a big school of sardines, and a very small shark. If you're lucky, you can also catch the beautiful early AM glassy water.
posted by quince at 4:19 PM on July 29, 2014

Mission Bay is made for this. If you have reflective gear/headlamp, then you can paddle out and watch the almost-daily SeaWorld fireworks which is a nifty thing to do. Stake out one of the firepits and build yourselves a bonfire for post kayak awesomeness.

Most of Big Bay is less attractive because of all the ship traffic, but you can certainly do some nice kayaking by Coronado since there's very little chop.
posted by 26.2 at 4:23 PM on July 29, 2014

Also - I haven't done this myself - you can paddle out an listen to the concerts at Humphreys by the Bay. I think that sounds like a long time in a kayak, but whatever floats your boat.
posted by 26.2 at 4:25 PM on July 29, 2014

These three lakes allow kayaking (note you may be subject to inspection if you're using your own kayak).

I think all the kayaking on the LA River right now is by excursion only with rented equipment, but keep an ear out for improvements in that policy.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:32 PM on July 29, 2014

Monterey Bay is also a great place to go. Busy with lots of Kayakers though.

If you're feeling super adventurous, any inlet in British Columbia.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:06 PM on July 29, 2014

I just went kayaking in Monterey Bay the other weekend, and it was amazing. Lots of beginning kayakers there too, so no shame/embarassment to worry about.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2014

I paddle in and around the Houston area (stretching to the Texas Hill country for occasional weekends). I HIGHLY recommend you hook up with a paddling mentor. I have learned a lot from a group of friends who've invited me on paddling trips, overnights, camping, etc. Much more than I think I could have learned on my own. In Houston, there's a pretty active Meetup.com group for paddlers. Maybe you can find something like that in your area?
posted by Brittanie at 6:10 PM on July 29, 2014

Alamitos Bay in Long Beach may fit the bill.
posted by cecic at 6:55 PM on July 29, 2014

Los Osos Baywood park
posted by hortense at 9:06 PM on July 29, 2014

I came to suggest the L.A. River, not from experience but from a vague "things to do" list so I defer to Lyn Never, but here is the city's L.A. River page for future reference.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2014

Might be helpful if you suggested what kind of kayaking you are or think you may be into. I came down with a similar condition about two years ago now but the thought of bobbing around on some piece of flat water is about as boring as it gets to me.

The perception I get when idly googling kayaking on the internet is that for a lot of american websites (I'm in the UK) kayaking begins and ends with sea kayaks, but there also whitewater and freestyle, slalom, marathon racing, open boating and so on.

I'd urge you to try as many as you can as each offer something different but have many cross over benefits.

Finally, get some coaching if you haven't already, it will pay massive dividends in the long run.
posted by fatfrank at 7:46 AM on July 30, 2014

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