Kayaking in L.A. area?
June 25, 2008 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I took a trip up to the pacific-northwest and tried kayaking for the first time (and second, and third) and became hooked. Can anyone recommend some good kayaking spots (river or ocean), tour companies that do camping trips etc with kayaking involved, or other nifty ideas that I haven't thought of in Southern California? I live in L.A. but a few hours drive seems reasonable.
posted by slopepheasant to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Head up to Santa Barbara and kayak around the Channel Islands. It's fucking awesome.
posted by dersins at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2008

Go to Catalina Island. There is amazing hiking and camping along with Ocean Kayaking close enough to what is normally a very calm shore that it is like Kayaking on a river.
posted by skewedoracle at 9:31 AM on June 25, 2008

I was just going to suggest Santa Barbara -- great kayaking!
posted by scody at 10:00 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: To elaborate on skewedoracle's suggestion of Catalina, which I wholeheartedly second: there are a number of campsites on the north/east shore of Catalina that are accessible by *boat only*, and can be reserved ahead of time. You can rent a kayak at a number of outfitters in Avalon, and then paddle 5-7 miles (it's not tough unless there's a big wind) to where all the campsites are, scattered along the coast about halfway between Avalon and Two Harbors.

Catalina itself is easy enough to get to; just make a reservation with one of the numerous ferry companies that operate out of Long Beach, San Pedro, or spots in Orange County.

The outfitter I've used on Catalina is Decanso Beach Ocean Sports, located just north of Avalon by the casino. Their website will tell you just about everything you need to know, but I'm going to tell you some more anyway. The kayaks they had were sit-on-top models, but still had compartments for storage with lids. They'll rent you drybags, a stove, and just about anything else you might need (note that you're not allowed to take camping stoves on the ferrys from the mainland).

The boat-in campsites are all super-primitive, and are basically just a beach with a sign and a picnic table. Goat Harbor has a port-a-pottie, but otherwise you need to pack out *all* your waste from these campsites. You can obtain materials for doing so (called "wag bags") at Descanso Beach or outdoor outfitters like REI on the mainland. You'll need to bring all your water and food. Some sites are very nice (I stayed at Goat Harbor and it was great, Italian Gardens and Paradise Cove also seemed nice), while others are not much more than a pebbly beach at the base of a cliff (Long Point). For activities, you can just paddle around, maybe trek up to Two Harbors for a restaurant meal or more supplies, go through the Perdition Caves just east of Two Harbors (a sea cave you can paddle through), or take your boat around to various coves, pull it ashore and do some snorkeling.

If you'd like a little more developed camping experience, you can always just paddle all the way to Two Harbors and stay at the campground there. It's also possible to completely circumnavigate the Island, but you'll have to deal with surf/swells on the west side, as well as a long desolate stretch between Little Harbor (also an excellent developed campground) and Avalon where you will not want to take your kayak ashore, since it'll be really tough to get it back out.
posted by LionIndex at 10:26 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: If you really like 'yakking enough, you might check and see if any of your local rental places offer a boat-share type program. It can be a great deal, where you buy a yak at significant discount from retail, and let the rental place use it as one of their boats. In return, you get free storage for your yak, they insure and repair it as part of their regular business, and you have 24x7 access to their equipment and dock. At the place I go, this means in addition to always having a kayak available to me, I also can use their sailboats and rowing sculls, when the mood strikes, plus I get a massive discount to share with friends who want to join me on the water.

It saves you having to transport the yak back and forth, and for an apartment dweller, is really the best way to own one.
posted by nomisxid at 11:10 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the detailed advice! I really appreciate it. I will definitely check out Catalina and CI. Any recommendations on lakes or rivers? My girlfriend wants to learn too and is a bit wary of the ocean at this point.
posted by slopepheasant at 10:29 PM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: In SoCal, there's really not too much in the way of rivers. There might be a couple lakes, and I think a lagoon north of San Diego might have kayaks for rent, while I'm certain Mission Bay does (it's a very calm water bay in San Diego--it's ocean, but more like a lake). There may be similar locations in LA that I'm just not aware of.

The thing about Catalina is that the whole east side of the island is protected from waves by the island itself, so it's pretty easy paddling, and there's not much to worry about. I'd never gone kayaking before the trip that I did, and it was really easy.
posted by LionIndex at 7:15 AM on June 26, 2008

You might want to check out California Kayak Friends

And if you're feeling really adventurous you can skip the ferry and kayak to Catalina.
posted by Tenuki at 3:02 AM on July 23, 2008

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