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.
Out through the harbor and into the gorgeous Monterey Bay, the skippers of Pacific Yachting & Sailing navigate their sailboats onto the open waters during lessons and chartered boat rides. They lead a variety of classes here, catering to uncertain beginners and seasoned sailors alike. They also leave Monterey Bay on chartered trips to exotic locales, including Greece, the British Virgin Islands, and Tahiti.
Trudie Ransom knows just how addictive the sensation of standing above the waves can be. After just a few trips out on her board, she not only began training with the standup-paddleboarding master Andy Whitman from Angulo boards, but also opened up SUP Shack. From her experience shadowing Whitman, she decided the best way to introduce people to the sport was with Angulo's soft, 10-foot boards, which serve as an easy surface to learn on while spending a day on the waves or taking one of the shop's classes or tours. Classes never contain more than six students, allowing each student to have the one-on-one attention needed to master the art of balancing and maneuvering the board. Once pupils are sure of their strokes, the shop's instructors lead guided tours that slip out across the rippling blue mirror and past the sights of the harbor or tackle the more advanced paths past sea-lion habitats. Late-evening tours pause as the sun sets over the ocean, filling the sky with color like somebody inciting peacocks to riot.
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.
Elkhorn Yacht Club Youth Sailing Foundation has educated fleets of aquatic explorers in the nuances of sailing along the picturesque Monterey Bay for more than half a century. During three-hour introductory lessons, certified instructors lead students through the fundamentals of wind-powered boating, covering everything from safety procedures to tying knots around the ankles of pirates. After a series of land drills, students and their sailing sensei embark upon the calm waters of the harbor to test learned skills, including trimming the jib, reading the weather's Twitter feed, and confidently handling their simply rigged Lido 14 skiffs.
When it comes to size, the blue whale trumps anything that has ever walked, swam, or flown across planet Earth. Stretching roughly 80 feet long, these titanic creatures swim deep below the Pacific Ocean, feeding on thousands of tiny krill at a time?but like all aquatic mammals, they eventually have to come up for air. That's when they meet Blue Ocean Whale Watch.
Aboard a 60-foot sightseeing vessel, naturalist Kate Cummings spouts the aforementioned whale facts and much more. However, it's not until whales breach the surface or jump into the air that passengers truly comprehend their massive size. Even the naturalist herself?who has been on countless voyages?can't help but take a picture each and every trip. Ms. Cummings works alongside Captain Jim Davis, who's navigated the ocean currents and Poseidon's construction zones for more than 30 years.
The two head out in search of blue whales, humpback whales, and other marine life, including dolphins and sea turtles. The stars of the tours change throughout year (during the spring, summer, and fall, humpback whales make their way to Monterey Bay to feed on krill and anchovies), but passengers can always catch views and photos from the upper deck.