Kayaking California: Places to Kayak in Southern California

Kayaking California waters (both fresh and saltwater) are available year-round and have perfect weather and plenty of premium fishing and paddling sites to explore.

Mono Lake

Kayaking California

Here are eight of the top places to kayak in Southern California:

Alamitos Bay

Alamitos Bay (Long Beach) is quiet with minimal crowds and a delightful site for first-timers to kayaking. It might be possible to spot moon jellyfish, dolphins, and sea lions in the local area. Plus, there is the Naples canal which has plenty of bridges and houses to admire.

Big Bear Lake

The beautiful scenery at Big Bear Lake makes it a stunning location for paddling, fishing, and camping. It is open year-round for recreational activities and attracts boaters from across the country. Summer with the warmer climate is the most popular time, which can leave the lake congested. Use of the lake is subject to a boat permit. Plus, the kayak will need to be inspected to avoid the spread of freshwater quagga mussel.

Channel Islands

The Channel Islands consist of 8 islands that stretch along the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara with clear waters, grottos, and sea caves. Most of this area is within a national park and home to marine wildlife like whales, dolphins, sea lions, and birds. Certain sections of the pristine ocean can become rough, so it might benefit for the beginner kayaker to go on a guided tour and not self-guided.

La Jolla

La Jolla gives access to a scenic stretch of San Diego’s Pacific Coast and makes it possible to admire the cliffs dating back millions of years. A kayaking adventure in this region means exploring the Seven Caves of La Jolla, which were once used by pirates. La Jolla is rich in marine wildlife with sea lions and Leopard sharks nearby.

L.A. River

The L.A. River is open year-round to provide a perfect destination for sun-filled kayaking and fishing activities. Enjoy a tranquil and lush time while paddling down the river with a wide range of things to admire, including wildlife like the snowy egret and butterflies.

Marina Del Rey

Marina Del Rey is situated near Venice Beach and one of the largest boat harbors in the world. A relaxing and calm paddling session can take place in the marine or venture further afield to explore Mother’s Beach. This area is great throughout the summer season with its sandy shore, great restaurants, and live music.

Mono Lake

Get a great view of the Mono Lake’s ecosystem by signing up for one of the guided tours. This makes it possible to kayak to the limestone formations known as the Tufa Towers which have formed in this centuries old saline lake. And this is the breeding ground for untold brine shrimp. Plus, this lake is used each year for tens of thousands of migratory birds.

Newport Beach Harbor

Situated in the heart of Orange County, Newport Beach is a perfect destination for the beginner to skilled kayaker. In the harbor, kayakers have the opportunity to explore the Balboa peninsula, which include several man-made islands. But, there can be a lot of boat traffic in the harbor area so make sure to paddle close to shore to avoid most of the congestion.