The Best Kayaking in California

Looking for the best kayaking in California? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping and more around California. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top kayaking spots in and near California

  • San Diego, California

    Explore Sunset Cliffs Open Ceiling Cave

    0.5 mi
    Starting from you parking spot on the street you will see it right away. Then look to the right in the small bay--to the right of it you'll see a small place to climb down. There is no rope so be careful when scaling it. Walk south until you hit the reef wall and walk along it until you get aroun...
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  • San Francisco, California

    Baker Beach

    4.8
    If you're looking for a beach that's a little more protected and scenic than Ocean Beach, then Baker Beach is it. Bring a cooler and some burritos out and kick it with your friends. On a sunny weekend day in SF, there's usually a sizable crowd here, so if you need parking, be sure to get here ear...
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  • Ventura, California

    Hike the Potato Harbor Trail on Santa Cruz Island

    5.0
    As California’s largest island, Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands is the perfect little getaway from Los Angeles. Getting to the island is possible only by a one hour boat ride through Island Packers, click here to find out more about them. Be sure to pack light since you’ll be carrying ev...
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  • Mendocino, California

    Camp at Russian Gulch State Park

    Just two miles north of Mendocino, you'll find this beautiful, well-maintained park that features a little bit of everything. The campsite is situated between a rugged beach and a stunning 36-ft waterfall, giving you plenty of easy and fun options.This park is most well known for the heavily fore...
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  • Mammoth Lakes, California

    Convict Lake

    4.9
    2.46 mi / 56 ft gain
    In 1871, a group of inmates escaped from a prison and were ambushed near the lake by a posse who had tracked them down. The inmates escaped the shoot out after killing two of the men in the posse and the lake now had a name – Convict Lake. You won’t witness a wild west shootout here, but if you ...
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  • Mariposa County, California

    Explore Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP

    4.6
    2.5 mi
    Tenaya Lake is located alongside Tioga Road in the park's Tuolumne Meadows region. There is a family-friendly trail that surrounds the lake. Though some spots along the trail on the western shore may require fording the waters, the 2.5-mile trip is an easy hike for all to enjoy. Many others pre...
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  • Avalon, California

    Camp at Parsons Landing

    5.0
    7 mi / 0 ft gain
    The distance can vary depending on where you start. It is a 2.5 mile hike from Emerald Bay or 7 mile hike from Two Harbors or you can kayak in. There are 8 primitive campsites (6 people/ site) which means there is no running water, no supplies...you must pack in everything. The campsites are spre...
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  • Ventura, California

    Beach Camp on Santa Rosa Island

    5.0
    16 mi / 50 ft gain
    This adventure is not for the inexperienced. There is a campground on each of the Channel Islands and even camping at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa Island is moderately difficult, especially in the summer. The payoff is one unlike any other on the West Coast. It is an opportunity to backcountry pack...
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  • Avalon, California

    Camp at Catalina's Two Harbors

    4.8
    An island camping escape is a mere 50 minute boat ride away from the southern California coast. If you're feeling generous with your funds, you can also opt for a helicopter ride, leaving out of Long Beach and 15 minutes later landing in Catalina Island.Two Harbors campground is unique with the a...
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  • Inverness, California

    Kayak Camping in Point Reyes

    4.9
    Like camping in remote locations? Love oysters? This is it! Tomales Bay offers boat-in only campgrounds along the east side of the peninsula. We departed from Chicken Ranch Beach, which is on the west side of Tomales Bay. We jumped in our kayaks and headed north in the bay for a quick breather at...
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  • Point Reyes Station, California

    Hike the Sky Trail in Point Reyes

    5.0
    11 mi / 1250 ft gain
    Sky Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore is a dramatic, mostly single-track trail that runs along the main spine of the Inverness Ridge and across highest mountains in Point Reyes, looming above the Olema Valley and Highway 1 which mark the San Andreas Fault rift zone and the dividing line betw...
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  • Moss Landing, California

    Kayak in Elkhorn Slough

    4.9
    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 Sa...
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  • San Luis Obispo County, California

    Explorer Montana De Oro's Spooner's Cove

    5.0
    Spooner’s cove is one of those small hidden beaches where you can watch stunning sunsets in a peaceful environment. Located in Montana De Oro State Park, the small gem is surrounded by countless hikes and camping spot. It is also one of the only areas of the park that is dog friendly. If you are ...
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  • San Clemente, California

    Beach Day at San Onofre

    5.0
    This spot is no secret but it’s by far one of the best beaches California has to offer and has been regarded since the 1950s as a friendly surfing sanctuary. The beach is divided into three surf spots (named from North to South), known as “The Point,” “Old Man’s,” and “Dogpatch.” To access the be...
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  • Moss Landing, California

    Kayak with Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

    5.0
    Disclaimer: Please keep a respectful distance from the whales and other sea wildlife for their protection and your own. Note, changing the animal's natural behavior is a violation of federal law.Every year, humpbacks whale migrate north from their winter and breeding grounds down in southern Mex...
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  • June Lake, California

    Explore June Lake

    4.7
    June Lake is a hidden gem in the Eastern Sierra, just north of Mammoth Lakes. June Lake is a quaint little lake with spectacular views. The neighboring town of the same name also boasts a brewery with tasty brews. For a truly unforgettable sunset, grab some brews and walk over to June Lake for th...
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