Kayak in Elkhorn Slough

Moss Landing, California

based on 9 reviews


Added by Chase Dekker

Kayaking up Elkhorn Slough is not only an easy trip, but one that offers many natural rewards as well. Home to the largest southern sea otter population on the planet, thousands of shorebirds, sea birds, seals, and sea lions, you'll be entertained for hours.

Elkhorn Slough is located in Moss Landing, which is in the dead center of Monterey Bay, California. Elkhorn Slough is one of California's largest wetlands and part of a National Estuarine Reserve located in central Monterey Bay, California, just a short trip from the Monterey Peninsula and the Santa Cruz area. The wildlife rich reserve winds inland many miles and provides an important feeding and resting place for wildlife. Each season is unique and you may be greeted in nature's dynamic playground by endangered animals, nesting birds, feeding sharks and giant slugs.

To get to the Slough, just drive on Highway 1 (head south from Santa Cruz or north from Monterey) till you get to Moss Landing. If you do not have your own kayak, there is no need to worry as Kayak Connection and Monterey Bay Kayak are located right in the north section of the Moss Landing Harbor, ready to rent you a kayak on demand. Single person kayaks go for $35 and double person kayaks are about $55 for the day. They usually just ask that you return them before sunset, so you have a lot of flexibility.

Most people put their kayaks in the water, just north of the slough, on the west side of Highway 1 (if you rent a kayak, this is where you'll enter the water). From here, it's just a short 2-3 minute paddle under the Highway 1 bridge to enter Elkhorn Slough. The slough goes back for many miles, but most people won't paddle more than 1-2 as a good majority of the wildlife is fairly close to the highway. Along the way, you should expect to encounter many sea otters, harbor seals, shore birds, sea birds, and you may even see a few bat rays and small sharks underneath the water! The slough offers different species of animals throughout the season, so check online to see what birds or other animals are there at certain times. Elkhorn Slough is fairly easy to navigate as it really consist of just the one river system, so getting lost is not a big concern at all. This is a must visit area for any nature and wildlife lover looking to get close to some of California's most beautiful creatures!

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app


Stand Up Paddle
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area

Kayak in Elkhorn Slough Reviews

The kayak experience was just OK for me. We were advised that the wind might pick up (wasn't bad at all) and not to go beyond the white buoy so we didn't, however, I would have had a much better time if we could have gone on a longer kayaking trip further up the slough. As it was, we were stuck right by the road and bridge. We wanted to see otters in nature, which we did, but the road and road noise kind of ruined it for me. The Kayak Connection people were nice and helpful. Just overall feel we missed an opportunity to see more of the natural beauty of the slough.

Saw otters and seals. Great place to paddle. Don't get stuck in the kelp though

This was such a fun day trip! We saw an old otter just chillin on his back. Was super cute! Would definitely do this again. Rented through kayak connection.

This was so easy and memorable. So many birds and sea lions and otters.

This place is fantastic. If you have your own kayak you can park and launch for $11 (bring cash). Spring is a wonderful time for seeing otter and seal pups.

I'd been dying to go kayaking, and finally decided to give this place a try! I had a very easy & friendly experience with Kayak Connection (reasonable prices, quick lesson, etc). Great spot for seeing wildlife!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Kayak with Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

Whale Watching off Moss Landing

Surf, Run, or Catch a Sunset at Marina State Beach

Explore Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Bikepack Highway 1: Monterey to San Luis Obispo

Mountain Bike at Fort Ord National Monument