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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O.A.R.S.'s three-hour tours through the gushing environs of Yellowstone Lake invite explorers to mount up for a close encounter with the park's natural splendor and geothermal pyrotechnics on the lake’s West Thumb. Sliding past Lakeshore Geyser, kayakers will explore local hot springs and mud pots as O.A.R.S.'s geologists lead a discussion on the region’s unique makeup. Led by experienced guides who know the lake’s West Thumb like the back of their own west thumb, half-day-trippers typically team up in pairs on one of O.A.R.S.'s two-seater sea kayaks, though singles are available on request for fitness fiends and mysterious loners.
Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions has been soaking up water-dousing revelry since 1973 with an assortment of safe aquatic adventures on California’s scenic rivers. No experience is necessary for this half-day voyage, which begins at noon and typically concludes about 5:30 p.m., on the Kings River, one of the last undammed and unspoiled rivers flowing out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. At the Zephyr base-camp meeting place, groups of water wanderers 7 years and older receive a brief prepping on the journey ahead before donning a life vest and joining a CPR-certified guide in a six- to eight-person paddle raft. River explorers then embark on a 10-mile journey full of untamed splashes and feral rubber duckies, and seasoned guides answer any questions and fish-themed riddles that come up along the way. Between each lively bit of rapids, which can vary in classification from season to season, calm stretches give rafters the opportunity to reflect on the Kings River’s tremendous beauty or newly acquired life-vest tan lines. Victorious paddlers end the day with a complimentary snack and beverage before a Zephyr shuttle returns them back to their vehicles.