Best Places to Kayak in San Diego

Canoes and Kayaks

Are you looking for the best places to kayak in San Diego? Look no further! In this blog post, we will provide you with a list of the best places to kayak in San Diego with tips on how to get the most out of your experience. So what are you waiting for? Get ready to explore some of the most beautiful waterways in Southern California!

1. Kayak in La Jolla Sea Caves

Without doubt, one of the best place to kayak in San Diego are the La Jolla Sea Caves at La Jolla Cove. 

Located just a short drive from downtown San Diego, the La Jolla Sea Caves are a must-visit destination for kayakers of all experience levels. With its sheltered cove and calm waters, the Sea Caves are the perfect place to paddle around and take in the stunning coastal scenery.

Among the highlights when you kayak the caves of La Jolla is seeing numerous sea lions sunbathing on rocks, dolphins, and Leopard sharks. You’ll also get the chance to catch a glimpse of some of the rare and endangered species of birds that make their home in this protected area.

So whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or someone who’s never been on a kayak before, kayaking through the La Jolla Sea Caves is an experience you won’t soon forget.

If you would like to book yourself a guided kayak tour in La Jolla check out the tours below. If you just want kayak rentals to kayak La Jolla Cove on your own follow the link to La Jolla Kayak where you can hire a single kayak for 1.5 hrs for $35.

kayak in San Diego kayak sea caves la jolla
Image via Viator.com

2. Mission Bay

Mission Bay Park has almost 27 miles of coastline and 4600 acres of aquatic waterways, so there are many outdoor activities to pass the time in this water wonderland.  Many popular resorts and marinas are lined up on the coastline including Sea World, so you can expect the area to get quite busy especially at weekends.  

The west end of Mission Bay Park provides good spots for canoeing, paddling, and kayaking around Bahia Point, Ventura Cove and Bonita Cove. The water on these beaches is primarily calm so that you can enjoy a lazy day out on your kayak. In addition, there are mini islands you can set out to explore.  Be vigilant about boats and JetSkis sharing the waterways, staying closer to shore near thoroughfares is recommended.

At the Northern end of Bahia Point there is a car park and perfect sandy beach for launching your kayak.  It will pay to arrive early here as the car park fills up quickly. Alternatively you can find ample parking near Bonita or Ventura Coves along Mission Bay Drive or Mission Boulevard. With long sandy beaches these locations have proved themselves to be the perfect place for launching kayaks.

Or you can launch from Mission Bay Park, located near the Interstate. It houses a suitable boat ramp used by many for launching purposes.
Other than here, you can also launch from Crown Point Park, on the north side of the bay. You can head here by turning south from Pacific Beach Drive or by heading north on Ingraham Street.

If you don’t own a kayak, there’s no need to worry. There are many great spots for kayak rental in San Diego including Aqua Adventures Mission Bay Kayak & Paddle boards conveniently located at the south west corner of Mission Bay.  Kayaks are $25 for a single for 90 minutes with an additional $5 per 30 minutes.

mission bay kayak san diego kayak in san diego

3. Lake Hodges

One of the best places to kayak in San Diego is Lake Hodges.

Lake Hodges or Hodges Reservoir is picture-perfect, with jade trees lining up its shores and reflecting in its teal waters. Lake Hodges branches into 3, and all provide a different experience. The eastern branch is the calmest of the three and is good for when you want a calm day kayaking in the waters and is generally good for those who have just started kayaking.

Mangrove forests line the shores, and there are shallow marshes in the area that you can explore. The northern branch will give kayakers a view of the mountains as they paddle through the smooth, clear waters.

Lake Hodges is accessible through the visitor center at Lake Hodges Way. You can easily launch any of the boat launches at Lake Hodges Reservoir. Remember to check whether the lake is open for visits since it is closed seasonally.
And if you don’t have your own kayak or paddle board, you can always rent one here: rockymountainrec.com

Getting to Lake Hodges is easily accessible in a car. On the I-15 N, take exit 27 for Via Rancho Pkwy. Then take a left into Lake Drive, and you will reach Lake Hodges in no time.

lake Hodges kayak san diego

4. San Onofre State Beach

Onofre State Beach is one of the best places to go kayaking in Southern California. The water is clean and clear, and the waves are just perfect for paddling. Plus, the beach is beautiful and there’s plenty of space to explore. Kayaking Onofre State Beach is an unforgettable experience that everyone should try at least once. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

The atmosphere at San Onofre is quite laid back, peaceful, and quiet, don’t expect a roaring crowd or many other activities to do. If you are longing for a simple day lazing in the sun and swimming in the waters, then San Onofre State Beach is the place to be.

The beautiful landscapes make San Onofre State Beach the perfect spot for kayaking any time of the year. You can bring your own kayak, but if you don’t have one, you can rent a kayak from Kayak Rentals St Clemente.

San Onofre State Beach kayak in San Diego

5. Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Diego and another excellent spot for kayaking. Oceanside offers the option of catching some great wave action or leisurely paddling along the coast on a calm day. This spot is better suited for those with paddling experience, as the open waters can get challenging. You can launch quickly from the shores of Coronado Beach.

Suppose you want something a little more relaxing, head over Silver Strand Blvd into the calmer waters of Glorietta Bay. From the boat launch at Glorietta Bay Park, head north alongside the golf course to the scenic Coronado Bridge and beyond with magnificent views of the San Diego CBD skyline.

If you need to rent a kayak, head in to see the team at Seaforth Boat Rentals. They have single and double kayaks and SUPs starting from $25 per hour. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not give an E-Foil a try beginning at $199 for an hour of adrenalin-filled fun.

6. Shelter Island

Shelter Island is in the neighborhood of Point Loma in San Diego. It is not entirely an island since it is connected to the mainland through a narrow strip of land, but it is still a perfect spot for kayaking.

Though it was initially only a sandbank in the bay of San Diego, it was later built up to be home of hotel resorts, marina and the San Diego Yacht Club. Named aptly Shelter Island, it protects the marina from the onslaught of giant waves.

The outer side of Shelter Island is a combination of a rocky wall, jetties and sandy beaches. The boat ramp is also located on the outer side with a nice sand beach next to it to launch from. Shelter Island has quite a busy scene with many boats constantly on the move. Kayaking here is rarely relaxing; you’ll need to keep your wits about you. Nevertheless, its quite an interesting place to paddle.

All of your watersport needs can be taken care of at Action Sports Rentals, located near the southern end of Shelter Island. Kayak and SUP rentals are very affordable here, starting at around $10 per hour for a single yak.

What are the life jacket laws in California?

Life jacket laws are designed to keep people safe while enjoying activities on the water. In the state of California, it is required that every child under the age of 13 must wear a suitable Coast Guard-approved life jacket on any moving recreational vessel. Click here to read our guide on life jackets and how to choose one that is right for you.

Wrap Up

These are some of the best places to kayak in San Diego. Each location offers something unique and distinct, and each experience will be different from the other. If you choose to go kayaking in San Diego, make sure you keep these places in mind. Happy paddling!

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