The folks at Kayak Connection outfit visitors with sea kayaks and standup paddleboards before leading them on guided tours or sending them out to explore Santa Cruz Harbor and Elkhorn Slough on their own. Tours vary from romantic sunset paddles to trips designed for families and include one tailored to getting glimpses of local birds. Intermediate and advanced paddlers can head out onto open waters to paddle past the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, and Monterey Bay Crossing.
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Navigate the California coastline from a new perspective—that of a robodolphin who must save the world using echolocation and a blowhole that doubles as a grenade launcher. The Santa Cruz Paddling Experience is a memory-making event that can be scheduled in the morning or evening. This tour includes a leisurely paddle through Monterey Bay to the waters near Lighthouse Point, a journey that drifts between seals and otters basking and cancan dancing in their natural habitat. The Moonlight Paddles tour meets one hour before sunset, giving paddlers enough time to get accustomed to the equipment before slithering across the dark waters into the moonlight to recharge the lunar-powered kayaks. The professional and personable guides at Venture Quest, like two-time world surf-kayak champion Dave Johnston, will thoroughly explain the equipment and procedures before taking off. In the off chance your kayak flips or you have a close encounter with icky seaweed, you'll know exactly what to do. Both two-hour sea sessions are a bit of a workout, but still easy enough for beginner paddlers. If a solo ocean adventure sounds too daunting, go for the double kayak and team up with another to conquer the tepid waters in tandem (each paddler needs his or her own Groupon).
Half Moon Bay Kayak Co.'s fleet of colorful plastic shells slices through the glimmering waters of Pillar Point Harbor, carrying crews of paddlers past playful harbor seals and chattering pelicans. Co-owners Doug Connor—who has conquered rushing rapids as a member of the United States Wildwater team—and Chris Manchester—who has kayaked along thousands of miles of coastline, including the world's second-largest barrier reef—channel their passion for paddling into a range of kayak and standup-paddleboard rentals, lessons, and tours. With expeditions to locales as far-flung as Honduras and Mexico, Half Moon provides sea explorers with exotic open-water explorations as well as local excursions to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, San Gregorio State Beach, and next-door neighbors' unattended kiddie pools.
Today's Groupon rents you a way to see the world without using your walkingwheels or automolegs. For $30, you can float or pedal with $60 worth of boat and bike rentals at Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center and Café. Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center provides equipment to explore Shoreline Lake, a safe and scenic waterway that was built for sporting on the doorstep of sunny Mountain View.