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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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2370 Highway 1
Moss Landing,
CA
US

Adventures by the Sea is owner Frank Knight’s love letter to Monterey Bay. As an avid cyclist, kayaker, and surfer in his youth, Frank decided to share the gift of the bay by providing land- and sea-activity rentals for tourists. But, what started out as a small bike-rental shop frequented by local hotel guests eventually transformed into a four-location recreational company that now offers kayaking, bicycling, SUP paddling, and surrey-carriage rentals and tours.

Bicycle renters can cruise along 17-Mile Drive and the rocky shorelines of Pacific Grove, while surrey-carriage rentals provide a low-key communal pedaling adventure for up to four riders. Patrons can also enjoy the serene environment of Monterey Peninsula as they glide through the waters of Cannery Row and Stillwater Cove—both part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary—on the company’s kayaks and standup paddleboards (SUP). During tours, knowledgeable guides rattle off facts about the area while pointing out its wildlife, such as harbor seals lounging on the rocks and otters snapping pictures of kayakers.

Along with providing land and water activities, Adventures by the Sea helps guests build stronger relationships with one another through their local group adventures, which include scavenger hunts. When customers are ready to invest in their own trustworthy gear, the company’s pro shop helps them stock up on boogie boards, snorkeling equipment, and paddleboards from brands such as Surftech, Naish Hawaii, and Paddle Surf Hawaii.

32 Cannery Row
Monterey,
CA
US

When Forest Roberts was 9 years old, he built a boat in his backyard with money saved from his paper route. Since 1989, Roberts has participated more officially in the maritime industry, working water-related jobs from commercial diving to boat building?and often living aboard boats?before opening his sailing-charter company in 2006. Today, California Classic Sail operates from Santa Cruz on the shores of Monterey Bay, earning praises from previous passengers and a Santa Cruz Sentinel feature story.

Roberts?s background in the building industry helped him recognize the superb craftsmanship in his current yacht, Sarah. The builder, William Garvie?who named the vessel after his granddaughter?constructed the 52-foot-long boat based on a line drawing published in an early 20th-century yachting-magazine spread. Made of wood instead of the fiberglass many modern boats are made of, its vintage style and wood hull set it apart from other Santa Cruz charter vessels. Dubbed a ?Sharpie? for its long, narrow shape, rather than an ability to leave permanent wakes, the graceful yacht zips through the bay waters on chartered trips for groups of up to six. Passengers can relax onboard as Roberts steers, or choose to learn basic sailing maneuvers through hands-on instruction. Roberts can also tailor trips to special occasions such as engagements and birthdays, and can sail during many times of day, including more-scenic mornings and sunsets.

135 5th Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

The experienced staffers at H2O Craft Rentals tend a fleet of fully equipped patio boats, Yamaha jet-skis, ski boats, and XCR series fishing boats. Each craft comes equipped with amenities that suit its purpose, with patio boats featuring with barbecues for grilling the day's catch and fishing boats bearing a fish finder to garner an advantage in games of Marco Polo. Customers can launch right from the marina or take advantage of the tow-and-go service and load vessels onto a trailer to ferry to a different body of water. This service enables boaters to cruise a range of area waters, whether coasting across the California Delta, Don Pedro Lake, and Lake Camanche, or plumbing the waters of Lake Tahoe for mackinaw trout and salmon.

12450 W Grimes Rd
Tracy,
CA
US

Since 1969, the folks at Larson Marine have outfitted customers with everything from brand-new boats to wakeboards and inflatable tubes to get out on the water. A self-professed one-stop shop that's large enough for all boating needs, the shop stocks an enormous inventory of gear and accessories and is run by a knowledgable staff that can help visitors find what they need for an aquatic outing.

1325 W Fremont St
Stockton,
CA
US

The party-loving minds behind Yacht Party Cruises wanted a creative way for locals and tourists to explore a city's late-night atmosphere. Eventually they launched a fleet of luxury yachts into the waters of eight of North America's most lively urban waterfronts. On each vessel, festivities abound as DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Sinatra, inviting passengers to shake a leg in between trips to the full bar or buffet lined with hot appetizers. All yachts boast extravagant details such as wraparound decks, fireplaces, or a glass atrium that hangs above the dance floor offering dancers a direct view of the man in the moon's game of solitaire. Guests can also step onto the decks for fresh air or panoramic views of city's skyline.

2400 Mariner Square Dr
Alameda,
CA
US