Sea lions and otters are passive creatures, unlike their landlocked counterparts, who hide inside little cardboard boxes to terrorize snack time as cleverly disguised, awkwardly shaped crackers. Coexist with animate marine mammals with today's Groupon: for $25, you get your choice of a two-hour kayak tour with Venture Quest Kayaking. Pick the Santa Cruz Paddling Experience or the Moonlight Paddles sunset trip. Tours depart from the kayak-rental office at #2 Santa Cruz Wharf.
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).
Kayaking is an effective escape from the stresses of everyday land life, as well as a worthy workout. Buy two gifts for your self's other, water-dwelling self and take both tours, or buy multiples as gifts for your fish-friendly family and friends. Any way you slice the surface, reservations are required; call ahead to make a reservation.
Venture Quest Kayaking
Venture Quest Kayaking's owner and head guide Dave Johnston leads paddling excursions across Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, from the shimmering interiors of seaside caves to the open water where whales and other wildlife frequent. He sets the standard for a team of experienced paddlers that lead the company's many tours. These nature tours, moonlight paddles, and trips to other ports send paddlers through waves and estuaries as guides encourage participants to hone their paddling technique and give the right-of-way to any ghost ships. Kayaking camps and classes teach skills such as riding into curling waves and safe ways to launch or do self-rescue in the surf. Their shop on the Wharf also outfits customers with a variety of rentals, including open- or closed-top single and double ocean kayaks.
2 Municipal Wharf
Santa Cruz, California 95060Get Directions