San Diego’s 70 miles of varied coastline offer something to entice every inclination of kayaker and paddleboarder. Expect warm, calmer waters in summer and fall, and breezier, cooler conditions during winter and spring, with sunshine and great paddling year-round.
Harboring an underwater ecological reserve, La Jolla Shores is popular with local paddlers and guided tours. The lovely beach here makes for an ideal launching point from which to explore the area’s famed sea caves, kelp forests and sea lion colonies.
More outfitters and rental shacks congregate around the parks and sands of Mission Bay, where paddlers can thread among the estuary’s islands and bridges—a world away from the amusement parks and clamor of adjacent Mission Beach.
Across from downtown, Coronado Island is home to some of the country’s top-rated beaches. It’s a pretty sweet spot for paddlers too—surfers catch gentle waves just off the sparkling west-facing sands; sunsets illuminate skyline views on the island’s sheltered eastern shore.
Where to Go
If you Want to Go Guided
Join a two-hour guided tour with La Jolla Kayak (www.lajollakayak.com) or San Diego Bike & Kayak Tours (www.bikeandkayaktours.com) to gain entry to the seven sea caves that pocket La Jolla’s sandstone sea cliffs.
When conditions are calm, you can paddle right into these cavernous chambers. Opt for their combination kayak and snorkel tours to swim with harmless leopard sharks, brilliant orange Garibaldi, sea turtles and curious sea lions.
If you’re Craving waves
The scores of surf shops and schools fronting Mission Beach hint at the reliable waves that roll ashore on these golden sands. To surf the sublime beaches and emerald waves of Coronado Island, head for Coronado Central Beach or Silver Strand State Beach. In La Jolla Shores, paddle out with the locals on either side of Scripps Pier.
If you Want to paddle into the sunset
Head to Mission Bay for calm water sunset cruising, and make a few new friends while you’re there. Along with boat and board rentals, lessons and tours, Aqua Adventures (www.aqua-adventures.com) hosts free sunset social paddles twice a week. They can also connect you with a lively community of local fitness paddlers and racers.
The La Jolla Ecological Reserve is filled with marine life, sea caves and excitement. | Photo: istockphoto.com/Ron and Patty Thomas