22 Best Places to Kayak in Southern California

Written by Best Kayak Guide

Feb 11, 2022

February 11, 2022

Why kayak in Southern California.

There are many reasons why people might choose to kayak in Southern California. Some people might enjoy the challenge of navigating through difficult waters, while others might prefer to kayak in calmer, more serene surroundings. 

Regardless of your preference, there are plenty of great places to kayak in Southern California

Why kayak in Southern California

Kayaking can be a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. It’s also a great way to see some beautiful scenery and wildlife. 

If you’re new to kayaking, it’s important to learn about the different types of kayaks and how to choose the right one for you. You also need to learn about the safety precautions you should take when kayaking.

If you’re new to kayaking, here are some tips to help you get started:

If you're new to kayaking

1. Choose the right kayak. There are many different types of kayaks, so it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you. Some factors to consider include your skill level, the type of terrain you’ll be kayaking on, and how many people will be in the kayak.

2. Learn about the safety precautions you should take when kayaking. It’s important to know how to safely get in and out of a kayak, how to stay upright, and how to maneuver in rough water.

3. Wear a life jacket. Even if you’re a experienced kayaker, it’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket. You never know when you might run into trouble, and even the best kayakers can end up in the water unexpectedly.

4. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Make sure that you always have enough food and drink on board for everyone in your group. This is especially important if you’re planning to be out for an extended period of time. 

5. Have fun! Kayaking is supposed to be one of the most fun things you can do outdoors, so make sure to enjoy yourself!

Best Places to Kayak in Southern California

1.Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a place of natural beauty and serenity. The island offers sailors, hikers, and kayakers with an experience like no other. 

Catalina Island is the most popular destination for tourists visitiing Southern California. 

When you do spend the night on Catalina Island, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to go kayaking during your stay. Kayaking can be done in just about any bay around the island. 

You can kayak from Isthmus Bay or Two Harbors to Casino Point if the water level permits.

You can observe some of the following creatures while kayaking: sea lions, whales, dolphins, and birds.It takes around two hours to kayak.

it is very easy to kayak around the Catalina Island so a complete beginner can kayak around the island but If it’s your first time, I would suggest taking an experienced kayaker with you.  

The best time to kayak around the island is when there is no wind. I recommend that you go on a weekday to avoid the crowd. 

Some dangerous animals on Catalina include sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish. Also be aware of riptides! Riptides can quickly draw an inexperienced kayaker away from shore. 

They can even carry away strong swimmers so always be sure to pay attention to your surroundings. Jellyfish tend to be present during the months of May through October, while stingray sightings happen more frequently between July and September. 

Sharks are a year round threat but it’s more likely that they will feed at night after the seals have come out for their own food source.  

Fees and Accommodation: 

You can camp in several locations around the island for a fee. There are also hotels located outside of the main city, Two Harbors. 

Kayaking is free if you supply your own equipment.

Directions: 

Catalina Express is the most popular way to get to Catalina Island from land. The ferry departs from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point. 

2.Lake Elsinore

Southern California is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in the world. With its miles of coastline, sheltered bays and coves, and rugged islands, there are plenty of places to paddle. 

Lake Elsinore is just over an hour from the border of Orange County and San Diego. Surrounded by natural forests and open fields, Lake Elsinore has something to offer for everyone: a tranquil and calm atmosphere, and (when you need some more excitement) enough windsurfers, jet skis and fishing boats to keep things interesting. 

The paddle around the lake is about 8 miles, and it can be completed in a few hours. There are a few small areas that can be a little more challenging to navigate, but for the most part the lake is relatively easy to kayak.

The best time to go kayaking on Lake Elsinore is during the spring and summer. The weather is usually warm and pleasant, and there aren’t as many people on the lake.

Some of the wildlife that you can encounter on Lake Elsinore include deer, coyotes, hawks, and ospreys.

Although kayaking is a relatively safe activity, there are some potential safety concerns that you should be aware of. 

Make sure to always wear a life jacket, and never paddle alone. It’s also a good idea to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. 

Be aware of the weather conditions, and never paddle in unsafe weather conditions. 

Finally, be familiar with the area that you’re kayaking in, and know your limitations.

Fees and Accommodations: 

Parking in the main lot is free. There are also several picnic areas around the lake, with grills and tables available to use. 

Drinking water is located at various locations around the lake. Restrooms are usually open during the spring and summer months, but keep in mind that there are no showers or changing rooms located at Lake Elsinore. 

Directions: 

The main entrance to Lake Elsinore is located off Highway 74. The address is 15305 Grand Avenue in Lake Elsinore, CA 92530.

3. Newport Beach

Kayaking in Newport Beach is a great way to spend the day. With its miles of coastline, sheltered bays and coves, and rugged islands there are plenty of places to paddle. 

From the harbor in Balboa to Little Corona and Marine Cove, there is a great variety of paddling sites. There are several good places to kayak in Newport Beach. The harbor is a great place to start, with its sheltered coves and beaches.

If you’re looking for something more adventurous, try Little Corona. This is a rugged island with some great sea caves to explore. 

When kayaking in Newport Beach, it is best to launch from either the beach or a boat ramp. There are plenty of spots around the harbor and along Balboa Peninsula where you can safely put your kayak in the water.

It takes about an hour to kayak across the whole Newport Beach.

There is a lot of great wildlife to see when kayaking in Newport Beach. You can expect to see dolphins, seals, and sea lions. There are also a lot of birds in the area, including pelicans, cormorants, and seagulls.

The best time of year to go kayaking in Newport Beach is during the spring and summer. The weather is usually sunny and mild, and the water is warmer. The fall can also be a good time to go kayaking, but the weather can start to get a bit cooler later in the season. 

The Newport Beach can be a challenging kayaking spot, particularly for beginners. There are a lot of rocks and reefs in the area that can cause problems if you’re not careful. 

It’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and to avoid getting too close to the shore. The waters can also be quite choppy at times, so it’s important to be prepared for a bit of rough seas.

Fees and Accommodations: 

There are no fees for kayaking in Newport Beach. 

There are plenty of places to stay when kayaking in Newport Beach. Balboa Peninsula is home to hotels, inns, and apartments. If you’d prefer something more private there are also several campgrounds nearby.

Directions:

From the 101, exit at Jamboree Rd and head south towards Balboa. Turn right on Ocean Blvd and drive until you reach Marine Ave. Turn left to find a boat ramp or launch your kayak from one of the nearby beaches or coves.

4.Channel Islands Harbor

Southern California is a paradise for water sports. 

Kayaking, with its mix of gentle paddling and the occasional current to keep you on your toes, can be a great way to explore this region’s coastal waters and Channel Islands Harbor is one of the best places in Southern California for kayaking. 

Here are some reasons why:

Kayaking in the Channel Islands Harbor provides a chance to see Southern California.

There are several ways to experience the harbor by kayak, including short paddles and multi-day trips that take you to uninhabited islands and along channels filled with sea life.

The harbor is close to the LA and Oxnard areas, making it a convenient stop on a weekend getaway.

The harbor also has guest docks, which let you easily launch your kayak and head out into the open water or drop in at one of Channel Islands National Park’s islands for an afternoon of exploration. 

It is excellent place to start for beginner. 

Channel Islands Harbor has a mild climate year-round, with the warmest months being July and August. November through April sees few storms so this is a great time to go kayaking as well.

Kayaking in the Channel Islands Harbor offers a chance to experience Southern California’s marine wildlife up close. 

You can see seals, sea lions, and dolphins as well as an array of birds such as brown pelicans and common murres. 

Sometimes you might even spot gray whales on their migrations between Alaska and Mexico.

You can experience the harbor’s calm waters if you want a mellow kayaking adventure. But strong currents also make it possible to have an exciting day out on the water, exploring deeper parts of the channel or crossing over to Santa Cruz Island.

Kayaking can be a fun and rewarding experience, but there are some risks involved that you should be aware of. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Make sure you are familiar with the area you are kayaking in. 

Don’t kayak in areas where you might encounter strong currents or submerged rocks. 

Be aware of your surroundings and avoid getting too close to boats and other watercraft. Wear a lifejacket, even if you are an experienced kayaker. 

Check the weather forecast before heading out on the water, and avoid kayaking in bad weather.

Fees and Accommodation: 

There are no fees associated with kayaking in the Channel Islands Harbor, you just need to pay for your launch or landing spot. 

Directions: 

The Channel Islands Harbor is located in Oxnard, California. 

5.Santa Monica Bay  

If you’re looking for a great place to kayak in Southern California, Santa Monica Bay is definitely worth considering. With its calm waters and diverse scenery, the bay offers something for everyone.

One of the reasons that Santa Monica Bay has such calm waters is because its source, San Pedro Creek, flows into the bay at the same time as the fresh water from Marina del Rey and Venice Canals. 

This creates an interesting effect: When high tide comes into the canals, water is pushed into Santa Monica Bay; but when the tide goes out, the bay sucks sea water inside. This causes for some interesting currents at times (especially during low tide) and makes this lagoon an ideal place to explore by kayak. 

You can also encounter a wide variety of wildlife while kayaking in Santa Monica Bay. One of the most common sights is the California sea lion, which can often be seen lounging on the rocks near the shore. 

If you’re lucky, you may also see some dolphins swimming through the water or pelicans diving for fish. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for whales – they’re sometimes spotted in these waters too! 

The Santa Monica Bay is quite large, so it can take a while to kayak across the entire thing. Depending on the weather and your level of experience, it could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

The best time of year to go kayaking in Santa Monica Bay depends on what you’re looking for. 

If you want to see the most wildlife, then the best time is probably during the winter or early spring, when the bay is at its most biodiverse. 

However, if you don’t mind dealing with colder temperatures and slightly rougher waters, then kayaking in Santa Monica Bay during the winter can be a lot of fun. 

If you’d rather avoid the colder weather, then summer is a great time to go kayaking in the bay. The water is usually quite calm, and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery without having to worry about being too cold.

Kayaking in Santa Monica Bay can be a challenge for novice kayakers, as the waters can be a bit rough at times. However, with a little experience, it’s definitely doable. 

The bay is quite large, so you can choose to kayak in calmer waters if you’re not feeling adventurous that day. And if you get stuck in a current, don’t worry – the locals are always happy to help out a fellow kayaker in need!

However, like with any outdoor activity, there are some potential safety concerns that you should be aware of before heading out on the water. 

First and foremost, always remember to wear a life jacket while kayaking – even if you’re a strong swimmer. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. Santa Monica Bay can get quite windy, so make sure to check the weather report before heading out. 

If the winds are too strong, it’s best to wait until another day to go kayaking. 

And finally, always make sure to leave a detailed itinerary with someone before you go kayaking, in case something happens and you don’t return

Fees and Accommodation: 

The fees and accommodation for the kayaking trip can range from $10 to $50 per person, depending on the tour operator you choose. These prices may vary depending on the size of your group and other factors.

Many of the tour operators offer camping or lodging accommodations, which can be a great way to save money if you’re planning on staying in the area for a while.

Directions:

To access the Santa Monica Bay, take 405 South to Washington Boulevard. Head West on Washington Boulevard until you reach the Palisades Park.

6.Alamitos Bay 

Alamitos Bay is a long, narrow inlet of the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the best places to kayak in Southern California. 

Located on the border between Orange and Los Angeles Counties, it stretches roughly from Seal Beach (in Orange County) to Long Beach (in L.A.), and is about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide at its widest point. 

The bay is well-protected by Alamitos Peninsula, which separates it from the ocean; this means that when winds are blowing offshore, they create waves that crash into the shore here with force enough to make them hazardous for inexperienced paddlers or small boats without substantial keels or rudders. 

Alamitos Bay gets its name from the Spanish word for “little poplar” (ala-mita) given to it by early Californios, possibly because of the tree’s distinctive white bark which is still visible along parts of Alamitos Bay Boulevard that runs through the town of Long Beach.

The bay is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, sea lions, and pelicans. It’s also a great place to see whales during their migration season.

It usually takes around 2-3 hours to kayak across the whole bay, depending on how fast you paddle and how often you stop to take in the sights.

The best time to go kayaking on Alamitos Bay is usually in the morning or evening, when the winds are blowing offshore and the waves are smaller.

During summer, Alamitos Bay can be too hot for people who aren’t used to being out on the water for long periods of time.

Other good times to go kayaking here are autumn and spring, when the winds are likely to be more moderate.

The kayaking in Alamitos Bay can be challenging because of the waves that can form when the winds are blowing offshore. These waves can be hazardous for inexperienced paddlers or small boats without substantial keels or rudders.

Fees and Accommodations: 

There is a fee to launch and park your kayak at Alamitos Bay County Beach in Long Beach. 

There are also some boat ramps, pier access points, and boardwalks along the shoreline of Alamitos Bay for launching your kayak from the beach. 

Accommodation-wise, there is a small area with picnic tables and grills where you can stop for a short break after your kayak trip.

Directions: 

Exit I-405 at Bellflower Blvd. 

Go east approximately 1 mile, then turn right onto E. 16th St. (just before Lakewood Blvd.)

Follow 16th to its end, and you will find the entrance to Alamitos Bay County Beach on your left.

You can also follow the signs for Alamitos Bay Reservation Area.

7.Dana Point 

Dana Point is a city in Orange County, California. It has about 14 miles of coastline and it’s often called “the Jewel of Southern California.”

It is home to the famous Doheny State Beach which attracts surfers from all over the world. The Dana Point Headlands is another great place for outdoor activities like kayaking and hiking. This area offers an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. 

Some of the things that make Dana Point such a great place to kayak are its calm waters and amazing views. The Dana Point Headlands is a great place to kayak because it offers a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. 

If you’re looking for a more adventurous kayaking experience, you can also check out the beaches in Dana Point.

Some of the wildlife that you can encounter includes dolphins, sea lions and whales and It takes about an hour to kayak across the Dana Point.

The best time to go kayaking on Dana Point is during the morning. The winds tend to pick up in the afternoon, making it more difficult to kayak. 

The Dana Point Headlands can be a bit challenging for kayakers, especially if the winds are picking up. The Dana Point is a great place to kayak if you’re looking for something more challenging. 

Fees and Accommodation:

The cost of the kayaking trip includes the use of the kayaks, lifejackets, parking and a guided tour. The fee for the guided tour is $10 per person. 

The price for parking is $10 per vehicle. 

You can also reserve a kayak for a fee of $25. The fee includes the use of the kayak, lifejacket, paddles and parking. 

The accommodation fees vary depending on the type of accommodation that you choose. 

Directions:

Dana Point is located off Pacific Coast Highway at Dana Point Harbor Drive. It has 14 miles of coastline and an average temperature of about 65°F (18°C) all year round.

8.Malibu  

Malibu is a world-famous beach town located in Los Angeles County, California. It is known for its rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs, and sandy beaches. 

Malibu is also a popular destination for kayaking. The calm waters and sheltered coves make it a great place to paddle. There are several kayak launches in the area. 

The wildlife in Malibu is just as varied as the landscape. You can see dolphins, seals, and other marine life offshore. Onshore, you can see deer, raccoons, and coyotes. There are also a variety of birds, including hawks, seagulls, and pelicans.

It takes about two to three hours to kayak across Malibu. 

The best time of year to go kayaking in Malibu is during the spring and fall. The weather is mild and the water is not too cold or too warm.

The best time to go kayaking in Malibu is early in the morning or in the evening. This is when the water is calmer and there is less traffic on the water.

Kayaking in Malibu can be challenging or easy, depending on what route you take. The easiest route is the Malibu Pier to Paradise Cove route. This route is mostly flat and takes about two hours to paddle. 

The more challenging route is the Paradise Cove to Leo Carrillo State Beach route. This route goes up and down the coast and takes about four hours to paddle. 

If you’re new to kayaking, I recommend starting with the Malibu Pier to Paradise Cove route.

Kayaking in Malibu can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of the potential safety concerns. 

The biggest safety concern is the surf. The waves can be unpredictable and can easily capsize a kayak. 

It’s also important to be aware of the tides. The tidal currents can be strong and can quickly sweep you away. 

It’s also important to know your limitations. Kayaking in Malibu can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to paddling in rough water. 

Make sure you always wear a life jacket when kayaking and never paddle alone.

Fees and Accommodations: 

There is no charge for kayaking and there are no accommodations available.

Directions: 

The Malibu Pier is located on the west side of Malibu. To get there, take PCH to Channel Road in Malibu. Turn south on Channel Road until you reach the pier. There are no kayak launches along this route. 

To access Leo Carrillo State Beach, take the Pacific Coast Highway west to its end in Ventura County near Oxnard. The beach can be accessed at several points along this route.

9.Crystal Cove State Park  

Crystal Cove beach is one of the most beautiful places in Southern California. It’s also a great place to kayak, which requires you to paddle out into the calm waters and float until it’s time to head back. 

Paddling out can be difficult if there are waves, so this is best done when there is little or no surf on the water. The cove provides protection from waves so that paddlers will not be tossed about during their trip. 

Crystal Cove State Park offers public access for kayaking with rentals available near the lifeguard towers at each end of the cove; private boats are prohibited in order to preserve visitors’ safety and natural beauty of this unique park. Kayakers should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when on the water.

Paddling out into Crystal Cove is a great experience, and paddlers can enjoy relaxing in their brightly colored single or double kayaks, frolicking in the gentle waves, or take a leisurely paddle around the coves.

The further you paddle from shore, the more wildlife you’ll encounter–from surfers to dolphins and sea lions.

Paddling in Crystal Cove can be easy or challenging, depending on the waves. If there are waves, it can be difficult to paddle out into the cove. If there are no waves, it’s an easy paddle. The further you paddle from shore, the more wildlife you’ll encounter.

The best time of year to go kayaking on Crystal Cove is usually in the spring or fall when the waves are calmer.

The distance across the cove is about one mile, and it usually takes kayakers about 30 minutes to make the trip. 

Although kayaking can be a great experience, there are some safety concerns that should be taken into account. It’s important to always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when on the water, and to avoid kayaking in rough seas or when there is a strong wind.

It’s also important to avoid paddling too far from shore, as this can lead to getting lost or stranded.

Fees and Accommodation: 

There is a day-use fee to access the state park.

Parking costs $15 per day and $10 for each additional vehicle at Crystal Cove State Park.

Directions: 

Take I-5 or Highway 1 to Newport Coast Drive in Newport Beach, right on Back Bay Drive, left on East Coast Highway and right on North Coast Highway. Continue straight and bear right onto Laguna Canyon Road before turning left into the parking lot. 

10. Sunset Beach   

Kayaking in Southern California is a great way to explore the coastline. The beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs, and scenic views are just some of the reasons to go kayaking in Southern California. 

There are many locations that offer an amazing kayak experience for all levels of paddlers. One destination that offers an unforgettable experience is Sunset Beach on Catalina Island. 

With calm waters, warm temperatures, and plenty of wildlife to see it’s no wonder this location makes our list! Keep reading for more information about what you can expect when you come out to paddle at Sunset Beach on Catalina Island! 

Some of the marine life that you can encounter while kayaking at Sunset Beach on Catalina Island include dolphins, sea lions, and whales. It is not uncommon to see a variety of birds such as cormorants, pelicans, and seagulls. You may also spot some fish swimming in the water below.

First off if you plan on visiting Sunset Beach for your next kayaking adventure make sure you check the weather before heading over there because wind  can impact your kayaking experience. 

There are two launch sites for kayakers to use when coming here. They are located in Two Harbors and Avalon on Catalina Island. You can also visit the Kayak Center in Long beach which is not too far from Sunset Beach if you plan on visiting during the winter months when rough water conditions can make paddling difficult. 

The best time to come out here is when there are calm waters, around mid May through early June or September through October. So keep that in mind when planning this trip!

It takes about an hour and a half to kayak from the Two Harbors launch site to Avalon.

Once you get there be prepared for a beautiful view as soon as you step foot on shore with plenty of wildlife to see along the cliffs and rocks. 

You also have a fantastic view of the sunset while out on your kayak. 

Once you get everything together and are ready to start paddling, be sure to paddle on the outside of the boat buoys because they mark where swimmers are allowed in the water. 

Also pay attention to any signs near boats or buoys because it will indicate when you can go out on an excursion or if there is a temporary no wake zone that applies to all vessels (kayaks included).

There are many different routes you can take but if this is your first time here we suggest staying close to shore until you feel comfortable enough with your abilities at sea level. 

Fees and Accommodation: 

There will be a launch fees, you will also need to pay for parking. 

Accommodation at Sunset Beach is available.

Directions: 

To get there, take Route 10 to the end (Carson St), turn on PCH and continue to Sunset Beach on Catalina Island. 

11. Laguna Del Mar

If you’re looking for a kayaking destination that offers something for everyone, look no further than Laguna Del Mar. This state park in Southern California is home to crystal-clear waters, serene beaches, and stunning mountain views. It’s the perfect place to spend a day or weekend out on the water. 

Laguna Del Mar is located in Orange County and is easily accessible from Los Angeles and San Diego. The park features over six miles of coastline to explore by kayak, as well as coves, estuaries, and wetlands. 

The kayaking here is suitable for all levels of paddlers, with options ranging from calm waters to faster-paced routes. There are several launching areas within the park, so you can pick your starting location based on which route you want to take. 

TheLaguna Del Mar is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, sea lions, and whales. You may also see otters, seagulls, and pelicans during your kayaking trip.

The best time of year to go kayaking on Laguna Del Mar is during the spring and summer months, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the park is open all year long and offers beautiful views no matter what season you visit.

The kayaking routes at Laguna Del Mar vary in terms of difficulty, so you can choose a route that’s appropriate for your skill level. The easiest route is the Wetlands Loop, which is a flat, easy paddle around a wetland area. 

If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, check out the Coves and Beaches route, which includes some moderate paddling and a few small rapids. 

No matter what route you choose, be sure to wear a life jacket and bring plenty of water and snacks with you. And don’t forget to pack your camera – you’ll want to capture the beauty of Laguna Del Mar for yourself.

Although Laguna Del Mar is a safe and enjoyable kayaking destination, there are a few things to keep in mind before you head out on the water. 

First, always wear a life jacket when kayaking. It’s also important to bring plenty of water and snacks with you, as well as sunscreen and a hat. 

Second, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t paddle too close to the shoreline, as there may be rocks or other obstacles hidden beneath the water. 

Finally, make sure you know your route before you start paddling. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, be sure to ask a park ranger for directions.    

Fees and Accommodations: 

There is a small parking fee of around $10. 

There are several shaded areas and picnic tables along the shoreline where you can stop for a break throughout the day. 

Directions: 

From Los Angeles, take the 405 north to the 73 north. Exit at Jamboree Road/Oso Parkway and turn left on Oso Parkway. Follow it until you reach Portola Pkwy. Turn right on Portola Pkwy and then immediately turn right into Laguna Seca Recreation Area.

12.Bolsa Chica State Park

If you’re looking for a kayaking spot in Southern California that offers plenty of wildlife sightings, Bolsa Chica State Park is a great option. 

This park is home to a wide variety of birds, including herons, egrets, and pelicans. You’ll also likely see dolphins, seals, and even whales swimming in the waters near the shore.The park’s wetlands provide a perfect habitat for these animals, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled while paddling around.

The best time of year to go kayaking on Bolsa Chica State Park is in the spring or summer when the weather is warm and sunny.

However, the park can be enjoyed year-round, so feel free to visit anytime. Just be prepared for possible wind and rain in the winter months.

The Bolsa Chica State Park can be enjoyed by kayakers of all levels of experience, from beginner to expert. The waters are typically calm, and there are plenty of areas to explore. 

However, please keep in mind that the park does offer a few areas that can be more challenging, such as the jetty near the Huntington Beach pier. So, if you’re looking for a more adventurous kayaking experience, be sure to check out these spots.

While kayaking in Bolsa Chica State Park is generally a safe activity, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for wildlife. Dolphins and seals can be playful creatures, but they can also be unpredictable. So, if you see any marine animals near your kayak, give them plenty of space.

Second, be aware of the weather conditions and dress appropriately. The park can get quite windy, so it’s important to have a jacket or windbreaker on hand just in case. And, even though the park is typically warm and sunny, it’s always a good idea to bring along some sunscreen and a hat.

Finally , please remember to pick up after yourself during your visit. 

There are trash cans in the parking lot and throughout the park, so throw any waste into these bins before you leave. 

And remember, if you’re planning to kayak in an area that’s not Bolsa Chica State Park, make sure you check with the locals about where and when it’s safe to go.

Fees and Accommodation:

Daily kayak rentals are only $10, while weekly rentals are $50. To get a daily kayaking pass, head to the main campground office. To get a weekly pass, visit the small boat harbor between 9am and 3:30pm. 

There are plenty of facilities throughout the park to make your stay comfortable including restrooms, showers, changing rooms and parking lots. The state park offers both RV and tent camping as well as yurts for rent along with fire rings and barbecue pits that you can use during your visit.

Directions: 

From the 5 freeway, exit at Beach Boulevard and head east. 

Turn right onto Warner Avenue and follow this street until it turns into Pacific Coast Highway. 

Parking will be on your left.

13.San Dieguito River

The San Dieguito River is a great place to kayak for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. The river has a mellow current, making it easy to navigate, and there are plenty of areas where you can stop and take in the sights. 

The San Dieguito River is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, and coyotes. You may also see hawks and eagles soaring overhead.

It takes about three hours to kayak across the whole San Dieguito River.

The river also offers a few small rapids for those who are looking for a bit more excitement. Kayakers should be aware that the river can get busy on warm, summer weekends.

The best time to go kayaking on the San Dieguito River is in the spring when the waters are running high after all of the snow melt from mountains upstream. 

The most popular launch spots are next to Lake Hodges Dam and at Four Mile Parkway near Del Dios Highway in northern San Diego County, but there are also several other places to put in if these areas are crowded.

While kayaking on the San Dieguito River is generally a safe activity, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

First and foremost, always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert for potential hazards. The river can get busy on warm weekends, so be sure to give other boaters plenty of space. Be aware that you will share the river with swimmers and other non-motorized boaters, so take care to stay out of their way.

Also, remember that the San Dieguito River is a shared resource and be respectful of other users. Swimmers and people on paddle boards and inner tubes can be difficult to see, so always yield to them when you are approaching from behind. 

Finally, always wear a life jacket when kayaking, especially if you are not an experienced kayaker.

Fees and Accommodations: 

There are a variety of launch spots along the San Dieguito River, but none of them have any amenities. Bring what you need with you before going kayaking, including food and drinks as well as extra clothing in case the weather changes.

Directions: 

The best place to put in is at Lake Hodges Dam. Take I-15 south from downtown San Diego and then take the exit for Highway 78 east towards Escondido. Continue on Highway 78 until you reach El Monte Road, turn right there and continue on to Lake Drive, where you will find a parking lot near the dam.

14.Topanga State Park  & Creek

If you’re looking for a day of kayaking that’s as scenic as it is enjoyable, then look no further than the Topanga State Park.  This beautiful park, located in Southern California and situated along a creek, offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy kayaking with friends or family members.  

The Topanga State Park & Creek is a relatively easy kayaking spot, making it perfect for beginners or those who are looking for a leisurely paddle.

The creek provides an excellent location to explore all sorts of wildlife and other natural attractions.  

The creek is home to a wide variety of animals, including fish, turtles, and a variety of birds. In addition to the wildlife, you’ll also be able to take in some stunning views of the California landscape as you kayak.

It takes about 2-3 hours to kayak the entire length of the Topanga State Park & Creek. 

The best time of year to go kayaking on the Topanga State Park & Creek is in the spring or fall. 

This is because the temperatures are milder, and there is less chance of encountering harsh weather conditions.

While kayaking on the Topanga State Park & Creek is generally a safe activity, there are some potential safety concerns that you should be aware of. 

It’s important to always obey all park rules and regulations when kayaking in the Topanga State Park. 

In addition, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that can occur while kayaking. 

Some of the dangers that you may encounter while kayaking on the Topanga State Park & Creek include:

Stumbling over rocks or other obstacles in the creek, Falling into the creek, Being struck by a fast-moving object in the creek etc. So, be sure to practice good safety precautions when you kayak here.

In addition, it’s also important to be aware of conditions in the creek before you set out on your kayaking adventure.  You don’t want to start a kayaking trip if the creek is too shallow or full of debris.  

Heavy rains will also make the creek more difficult to navigate and pose a danger for those who are not experienced with handling such conditions. 

Kayakers who take these steps and follow all rules an regulations while enjoying their experience on the Topanga State Park & Creek will find that this is a beautiful location that offers many unique opportunities for fun and excitement! 

Fees and Accommodations: 

There is a fee for parking and entry to the Topanga State Park. Accommodation include bathrooms, parking lots, picnic tables, and access to clean drinking water.

Directions: 

You’ll find the Topanga State Park at 20828 Entrada Road, Malibu, CA 90265.  The easiest way to get there from Los Angeles is via Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). 

15.Whittier Narrows Recreation Area

Kayaking is the perfect way to explore some of the ancient landscapes which can’t be accessed by foot or car. Wondering where to kayak in Southern California? The city of Whittier has the answer. 

The city is home to a popular recreation area, located on the edge of San Gabriel River and Pacific Ocean. It’s known as one of the best places to kayak in southern California due to its calm waters and beautiful scenery. 

There are various lengths of river to kayak if you’re just learning. You can always find plenty of room even on the busiest weekends.

There are so many species of birds that frequent the area making it a fantastic spot for birdwatching as well! 

Some of the bird species that can be found in the area include egrets, herons, kingfishers, and hawks. The river is also home to a variety of fish, including catfish, bass, and trout. In addition, you may also encounter turtles and other reptiles sunning on the rocks.

The kayaking trip across the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how fast you paddle and how much you stop to enjoy the scenery.  

The best time of the year to kayak on the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is typically during the summer months when the weather is warm and there is less chance of rain. However, it can be enjoyed all year round.

The Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is a moderate kayaking trail and a great place to start for beginner kayakers. The calm waters and lack of obstacles make it an easy paddle, while the diverse landscape provides plenty of interest for more experienced paddlers.

Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is a great place to kayak, but there are some safety concerns that you should be aware of before heading out. 

When kayaking on the river, always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert for any obstacles. 

In addition, the river can quickly become dangerous if it rains or during flash flooding. always check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

Fees and Accommodations: 

There are no fees associated with kayaking in the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.

Parking is free, but there are limited spaces available. 

For overnight visitors who wish to camp, there are RV campsites and tent camping areas available for a fee. 

Amenities include restrooms (no showers) and outdoor hot-water showers that can be operated by quarters or tokens which can be purchased at the entrance station along with firewood. If you arrive after hours, you can also pay through an intercom system located on site.

Directions: 

To get to the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, take 90 Fwy (towards Norwalk) and exit at Santa Gertrudes Ave. 

Make a left onto San Gabriel River Parkway and then make another left onto Colima Rd. 

16.Lake Perris State Recreation Area

If you’re looking for a great place to kayak in Southern California, look no further than Lake Perris State Recreation Area. With its placid waters and stunning views, the lake is a great place to spend a day kayaking with friends or family. 

The lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, fish, and turtles. You might also see deer or coyotes in the surrounding hills. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bald eagle or osprey nesting in one of the nearby trees!

Lake Perris might not be as grand or well-known as some of the other lakes in Southern California, but that just means you’ll have it all to yourself once your kayaking excursion begins! 

Lake Perris is a great place for kayakers to spend the day.

It takes about two hours to kayak across the entire Lake Perris State Recreation Area.

The best time of the year to go kayaking on Lake Perris is during the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer people around.

Lake Perris is a great place for kayakers of all experience levels. The water is relatively calm, and there are few obstacles to avoid. 

However, there are a few areas where the current can be a bit strong, so it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings and stay aware of what’s going on around you.

Although kayaking on Lake Perris is generally safe, there are a few things to be aware of before you go. 

First and foremost, it’s important to always wear a life jacket while kayaking. The water can be cold, and if you fall in you could quickly become hypothermic.

Another thing to be aware of is the possibility of getting struck by lightning. The lake is in a relatively open area, and if a storm rolls in, you could be in danger. Make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid kayaking on the lake during inclement weather.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the lake can be a great place for wildlife encounters. Be sure to keep your distance from any animals you see, and never feed them. 

Fees and Accommodations: 

There is a $10 fee to park in the recreation area, but you do not have to pay an additional fee if you are only going kayaking also there are bathrooms and picnic tables available for use.

Directions: 

Lake Perris is located at 500 South Barretta Street, Perris, CA 92571.

17.San Elijo Lagoon County Park

If you’re looking for a great place to kayak in Southern California, look no further than San Elijo Lagoon County Park. As one of North America’s largest natural lagoons, San Elijo is the perfect place to spend a day kayaking with friends or family. 

The park is home to a wide variety of birds and other wildlife, so you’ll want to grab your binoculars and prepare for an adventure. 

You’ll likely see a variety of birds, including seagulls, pelicans, and herons. The lagoon is also home to a variety of mammals, including raccoons, river otters, and deer. 

So if you’re looking for an adventure and want to get up close and personal with some of Southern California’s wildlife, be sure to check out San Elijo Lagoon County Park.

The San Elijo Lagoon County Park is about three miles long, so it should take you about an hour to kayak across the whole park.

The best time of year to go kayaking at the San Elijo Lagoon County Park is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there is less chance of inclement weather.

While kayaking at the San Elijo Lagoon County Park is a great adventure, it’s important to be aware of some potential safety concerns. 

First and foremost, always be aware of your surroundings and be sure to avoid areas with strong currents. 

Secondly, always wear a life jacket when kayaking, even if you’re an experienced kayaker. 

Finally, never kayak alone. Always go kayaking with a friend or family member.

Fees and Accommodation: 

There are two parking lots for the San Elijo Lagoon County Park. 

The first is located on Amaya Drive and offers a small, gravel lot with room to park about five cars. 

The second is located south of the lagoon at Santa Fe Street and West Lilac Road and provides a larger paved lot to accommodate more cars. 

There is also a $5 parking fee.

For those interested in staying overnight, there is one camping site available with water.

Directions: 

To get to the San Elijo Lagoon County Park, take I-5 South to the Via De La Valle exit in Solana Beach. 

Take Via De La Valle west towards the ocean until you reach Santa Fe Street. 

Turn left onto Santa Fe Street and follow it until you see a sign for West Lilac Road. 

Turn right onto West Lilac Road and follow it until you reach the parking lot on the left side of the road.

18.Santa Monica Pier

If you’re looking for a great place to kayak in Southern California, look no further than Santa Monica Pier. This historic pier is located right on the beach and has plenty of open space for kayaking and playing. 

It’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles, which means it’s full of interesting shops and restaurants as well as beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. 

This is a great spot to explore and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the rest of LA. 

In addition to the beautiful views, you can also encounter a variety of wildlife at Santa Monica Pier. While you’re kayaking, you might see dolphins, sea lions, and even whales! It’s a great place to get up close to some of the animals that live in the ocean.

The best time of year to go kayaking on Santa Monica Pier is during the summer months. The weather is usually nice and sunny, and you’ll have plenty of daylight to enjoy the pier.

The Santa Monica Pier can be a challenging place to kayak, depending on the weather and waves. The pier is open to the ocean, so it can be windy and choppy. It’s important to be aware of the weather conditions before you go out on the water. 

If the waves are too high or the wind is too strong, it’s best to stay off the pier. It’s not worth risking your safety just to paddle around in a kayak.

It usually takes around 30 minutes to kayak across the Santa Monica Pier. The pier is about 1,500 feet long, so it’s a good workout to paddle all the way across. If you’re not in a hurry, you can enjoy a nice leisurely kayak ride and take in all the sights and sounds of the pier.

You’ll want to be aware of potential safety concerns before you go kayaking on Santa Monica Pier. 

No matter where you’re kayaking, it’s important to stay away from the pier when there are big waves or strong winds. 

If you can’t feel safe in these conditions, then you shouldn’t risk it and try to paddle against the wind and waves. 

That’s why it’s best to always check the weather reports before heading out on a kayak. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the ocean if a storm is headed your way!

Fees and Accommodations: 

Fees for the kayaks are $10 per hour, and there is a $100 refundable deposit for the kayaks.

The Santa Monica Pier offers a variety of accommodations for visitors. There are several restaurants and cafes located on the pier, as well as a few souvenir shops. 

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Santa Monica, there are plenty of options nearby. The pier is only a few blocks away from the Santa Monica Promenade, which is home to dozens of hotels and restaurants. 

There are also several beachfront hotels in Santa Monica that offer great views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Directions: 

The Santa Monica Pier is located in Santa Monica, California. It can be accessed by Ocean Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.

19.Paris Mountain State Park

If you’re looking for a wonderful location to kayak in Southern California,Paris Mountain State Park is a hidden gem that you won’t want to miss. This park is located in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. 

Paris Mountain State Park is a great place to go kayaking because there are plenty of creeks and rivers to explore. The park also has several lakes that are perfect for kayaking. 

In addition to the beautiful scenery, Paris Mountain State Park is also home to a variety of wildlife. You might see deer, raccoons, and even bobcats while you’re kayaking! It’s a great place to get up close to some of the animals that live in the area. 

If you’re interested in kayaking at Paris Mountain State Park, be sure to bring your own equipment! There are no concessions on site so if you forget something, there’s nothing you can do but go back home. But since the park has plenty of lakes and creeks for you to explore, it might not even matter.

It typically takes kayakers around two to three hours to kayak across the entire lake. However, if you’re looking to explore all of the creeks and rivers in the park, you could easily spend a whole day Kayaking.

The best time of year to go kayaking on Paris Mountain State Park is in the spring or fall when the weather is milder. During the summer, the park can get quite hot, and in the winter it can be quite cold.

The kayaking at Paris Mountain State Park can be quite challenging, depending on the route you choose to take. Some of the creeks and rivers are quite narrow and winding, so it can be difficult to navigate your way through them.

The lakes in the park are a bit easier to kayak on, but they can still be challenging if you’re looking for a more strenuous workout.

While kayaking on Paris Mountain State Park is definitely a great experience, there are some potential safety concerns that you should be aware of. 

The lakes in the park can be quite large and deep. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and stay within sight of your kayak partner at all times.

The weather can also be a factor when kayaking on Paris Mountain State Park. The park can get quite hot during the summer, and it can be quite cold during the winter. If you’re kayaking on the rivers and creeks, it can be difficult to get out of the water if you happen to fall in.  

You should also try to avoid going kayaking during a storm because lightning strikes have been reported near some of the lakes. You don’t want to find yourself caught up in a dangerous situation while kayaking!

Overall, Paris Mountain State Park is a great place to go kayaking. 

Fees and Accommodations: 

The park charges an entrance fee per person. You’ll also need to display a parking pass in your car if it’s parked at the main recreational facility, which is another fee per car. 

There are several campsites available for people who would like to stay overnight at the park. 

Directions: 

Take Highway 74 west from Pigeon Pass Road. Take a right on El Toro Road and then take a left onto the I-5 Frontage Road, which will take you directly to the park’s main entrance.

20. Cabrillo Beach

Cabrillo Beach is a beautiful beach located in the southern part of San Pedro, California. On the western side of the sand are plenty of places to park and access some great kayaking spots. 

Along with its many amenities, Cabrillo has some great surf spots if you want to get out on your board or take lessons. The best time to go is during winter where it’s not too hot but still sunny enough for an afternoon outing. 

The variety of wildlife you can encounter while kayaking in Cabrillo Beach is astounding. From the playful sea lions that will often follow your boat, to the many species of fish that live in the area, there is something for everyone to see. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale or dolphin!

The Cabrillo Beach is a great place for beginner kayakers, as the waves are usually gentle and there is plenty of room to explore. 

However, there are also some areas that can get a bit more challenging, depending on the tide and weather conditions. always exercise caution while kayaking, and be sure to check with the locals about the latest conditions.

It usually takes around an hour to kayak from the start of the beach to the end. However, it’s best to explore and take your time, so plan on spending a few hours out on the water!

Kayaking can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers before heading out. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Always check the weather conditions and forecast before going out. Kayaking in bad weather can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

Be aware of the waves and tides. Some areas can be more challenging than others, so always exercise caution.

Make sure you have the proper safety gear, including a life jacket, before heading out.

Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If something happens and you’re unable to return on your own, they’ll know where to start looking for you.

Fees and Accommodations: 

Cabrillo Beach offers really close parking for visitors which makes it easy for people who don’t live nearby to stop by and enjoy this lovely location. 

There are shops to buy food and shopping nearby. Bathroom and shower facilities also available.

Directions: 

From northbound Harbor Freeway (110) in San Pedro: 

Exit Gaffey Street and turn left, then turn right on 22nd Street and follow it to the beach.

From southbound Harbor Freeway (110): 

Take exit 26A toward Palos Verdes Drive West. Merge onto Palos Verdes Drive.

21.Sycamore Cove Beach

Despite the popularity of surfing and other coastal activities, not many people know about kayaking. It’s a shame because there are so many great places to go kayaking in Southern California. 

One such place is Sycamore Cove Beach which is located between Malibu and Ventura on Highway 101. The cove has calm waters that make it perfect for beginners but also challenging enough for experienced paddlers. 

There are lots of beautiful stretches of coastline as well as a few caves to explore if you want adventure too!

You can encounter a variety of wildlife while kayaking at Sycamore Cove Beach. If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins, seals, or sea lions frolicking in the waves. 

You might also see whales migrating along the coast. The birdlife is also quite varied and includes bald eagles, great blue herons, and American white pelicans.

It usually takes around an hour and a half to kayak across the whole cove. However, if you want to explore the caves and coastline, it could take a lot longer!

The best time of year to kayak at Sycamore Cove Beach is in the Spring and Summer when the weather is warm and sunny. The waves are usually calmer then, making for a more enjoyable experience.

The waves at Sycamore Cove Beach can be a bit challenging, especially for beginners. However, there are plenty of areas in the cove that are calm and perfect for kayaking.

While kayaking at Sycamore Cove Beach is a fun and rewarding experience, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers. 

The biggest danger while kayaking is getting caught in a riptide. If you find yourself being pulled out to sea, don’t try to fight the current. Instead, try to relax and let the current take you out until it dissipates. Then, paddle back to shore. 

Also, be aware of the waves. They can be quite powerful and can easily capsize a kayak. 

Make sure you know how to swim before going kayaking, and always wear a life jacket.

Fees and Accommodations: 

There is a fee to park at the Sycamore Cove Beach parking lot. The price varies depending on what time of day you go.

You can also camp in a small campground or book one of 8 cabins available to rent. 

For those who prefer comfort over wild camping, there are several hotels close by as well as other accommodations such as bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. 

The main amenities at Sycamore Cove Beach include restrooms, picnic tables, grills, showers, and an interpretive center with exhibits about local wildlife and history. You can even get tide pooling kits here!

Directions: 

From Ventura travel north on Highway 101, and turn right at Sycamore Canyon Road. Follow the road to the parking lot on the left side of the highway.

22. Ballona Creek 

Ballona Creek is one of the few rivers that run through all five counties of Southern California, making it an excellent place to kayak no matter where you live in this diverse region. 

The creek runs from Long Beach Harbor to Marina Del Rey, which makes it easy for people who don’t live nearby to stop by and enjoy this lovely location. 

Ballona Creek is a great place for kayaking because it not only has an easy flatwater paddle section but also provides a fun, challenging rapids section with small surfing waves! 

The Flatwater Paddle: The easiest way to start your trip is from Mar Vista Park which is located off Venice Blvd between Grand View Playfield and Via Marina Avenue . 

You can encounter a variety of wildlife while kayaking in Ballona Creek, including herons, egrets, and ducks. You may also see sea lions or dolphins swimming near the shore.

It takes about 2 hours to kayak from the start of the creek near Mar Vista Park to the end near Marina Del Rey.

The best time of year to kayak on Ballona Creek is during the late winter and early spring when the weather is mild and the water is less crowded.

The rapids section of Ballona Creek can be challenging for kayakers who are new to the sport. If you’re looking for a more relaxed paddle, stick to the flatwater section.

While kayaking in Ballona Creek, it is important to be aware of potential safety concerns. There are some areas in the creek that are more shallow than others, so it is important to stay alert and avoid hitting rocks or other obstacles.

The rapids section of Ballona Creek can also be challenging and dangerous for inexperienced kayakers, so it is important to be aware of your abilities before attempting this section of the creek.

Fees and Accommodations: 

The parking lot at Mar Vista Park is free, but there are fees to use the beach or ball courts.

There are shops to buy food and shopping nearby. Bathroom and shower facilities also available. 

Directions: 

Head west on Venice Blvd and turn left onto Grand View Pl (just past the Chevron Gas Station). At Marina Del Rey, make a right on Via Marina Ave and follow it back inland. 

Kayaking in Southern California can be a fun and rewarding experience, no matter what your level of experience is. There are several wonderful locations to kayak in Southern California, and each has its own special value. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful paddle through a calm creek or an exciting ride down some rapids, there’s sure to be a kayaking spot that’s perfect for you.

22 Best Places to Kayak in Southern California
22 Best Places to Kayak in Southern California

Now you can check 22 Best Places to Kayak in Michigan.

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