Kayaking is a popular water activity in San Diego because it’s easy and fun. You can do it almost anywhere in San Diego’s picturesque coves, bays, or open ocean waters. There are several freshwater lakes and reservoirs in San Diego County that are suitable for kayaking as well.
Anyone can enjoy kayaking the first time they grab a paddle and push off from shore. Enthusiasts, couples, and families with children ages six and up flock to the water in brightly colored single and tandem models that can accommodate two or more paddlers.
San Diego’s temperate climate means you can kayak year-round, but summer and fall are prime kayaking times. The conditions are generally calm, and the air and water temperatures are warm enough to wear simply a bathing suit or light wetsuit top.
You can still enjoy beautiful weather and crystal clear water in winter and spring, but even on the best days, you may need to wear a full wetsuit, and you could face some challenging swell and wind conditions if you’re heading for open waters.
Many people, especially beginners, prefer launch ramps and beaches in San Diego's protected bays, where you’re guaranteed easy launching and landing any time of year. Experienced paddlers know to ask local kayak companies or lifeguards about when and where it's safe to paddle at coastal beaches.
Local providers offer a wide range of paddling experiences with challenges ranging from two-hour coastal tours to epic multi-day expeditions.
The most popular kayaks for guided tours are sit-on-tops, virtually indestructible and user-friendly molded plastic kayaks that don't require formal training. Paddlers should always wear a helmet and personal flotation device. More experienced paddlers should also carry a beacon or signaling device, drinking water, and other emergency gear.
If you want to learn the ropes (and the paddles) from a pro, it’s easy to find companies that offer courses for beginning and advanced paddlers.
Two-hour tours run about $45 for a single kayak and about $70 for a double, but sometimes you can catch specials if you shop for deals.
There are also weight restrictions that are typically 275 lbs. maximum for single kayaks and 450 lbs. maximum for tandem kayaks.