While you can kayak virtually any place along the San Diego coast, La Jolla Shores beach is among the most popular. Protected from the brunt of the summer swells, it’s an ideal launching point to explore kelp beds, sea caves and sea lion colonies. Most of the guided tour operations are centered here, and many local kayakers launch from La Jolla Shores for touring, fishing and diving excursion. Other popular sea kayaking locations include Mission Bay, Coronado Island, Carlsbad Lagoon and Oceanside Harbor. It’s not uncommon to encounter dolphins, seals and even whales. And, in addition to open ocean, coastline and protected harbors, there are numerous freshwater lakes and reservoirs in San Diego County, many of them suitable for kayaking and, especially, kayak fishing.
Summer and fall are prime time for kayaking in San Diego. The conditions are generally calm and the air and water temperatures are warm enough to wear simply a bathing suit or light wetsuit top. Beautiful weather and crystal clear water can be found in winter and spring but, even on the best days, a full wetsuit may be in order and swell and wind conditions should be taken into consideration. Launch ramps and beaches within San Diego’s protected bays are the surest bet for easy launching and landing any time of year. Any local kayak service or the lifeguards can advise you about when and where it’s safe to go paddling at coastal beaches.
At any time of year, paddlers should wear a PFD – a personal floatation device (or life vest). These are typically included in the cost of kayak rentals and tours. Experienced kayakers going offshore often carry a beacon or signaling device, plus drinking water and other emergency gear. If you’re going solo, make sure to tell a friend where you’re planning to paddle and when you expect to return. Finally, remember that kayaking is a water sport; protect your valuables or leave them on dry land.