Kayaking in San Diego

Discover information about kayaking in San Diego such as the best locations, rental places, where to get lessons & ideal weather conditions for kayaking.
Kayaking in San Diego
Kayaking in San Diego
Ideal Conditions
Featured Activity
Best Places to Go
Best Places
Save on Gear
Tips for Kayaking
Where to Stay

Discover Kayaking in San Diego, CA

San Diego, California is widely known for all the area has to offer. There are an abundance of activities and events for visitors to add to their vacation itinerary, especially when it comes to watersports.

Watersports might be one of the most popular past times for visitors and locals in San Diego. The year-round, moderate temperature makes it easy to spend the day on the water learning to kayak, surf or stand-up paddle board (SUP) - to name a few.

While there’s definitely plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, kayaking is perfect for families, groups of friends or individuals to partake in. Kayaking has been around for centuries and was primarily used for fishing, hunting and transportation. Now, the activity has become a thrilling way for people to explore rivers, lakes, bays and oceans.

A kayak is similar to a canoe except they are generally lighter, trimmer and easier. Both use a paddle to propel it forward. Kayaks are a particularly convenient and accessible way to explore areas like San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and La Jolla.

There are typically two options to choose from: one seat kayaks and tandem (two seat) kayaks. Choosing the right kayak will be contingent on your personal preference. In addition, there are different kayaks available for sea kayaking, long distance tours, fishing, whitewater and rivers.

Kayaking in San Diego is the perfect combination of exploring the outdoors, creating new memories and getting moderate exercise. One of the best things about kayaking is that all skill levels can participate.

Ideal Kayaking Conditions

San Diego, California is known for offering ideal weather all year. This means there really is no such thing as a bad time to plan a trip to the area. However, if you are really wanting to explore the local waterways by kayaking then summer or fall may better suit your needs.

Summer time in San Diego is known to be the hottest time of the year with temperatures averaging in the high 70s along the coast. This means the weather is usually warm enough for kayakers to wear their bathing suits rather than having to wear a wetsuit. In addition, the water is warm enough to go for a swim and the wind is generally pretty calm in summer.

Local Tips
Seasonality
Summer and fall are prime time for kayaking in San Diego, but even on the best days, a full wetsuit may be in order and swell and wind conditions should be taken into consideration.

The fall months will also provide an enjoyable kayaking experience due to the warm weather and water temperature. Another benefit of San Diego in the fall is that there tends to be fewer people visiting the area.

While summer and fall months have optimal kayaking conditions, travelers can still go during spring and winter. The water is crystal clear during these months and it’s a beautiful sight to see. However, kayakers might need to wear a wetsuit because of the wind and colder ocean water.

Weather conditions should always be considered before planning a kayaking venture so be sure to check the forecast. In addition, local rental companies and lifeguards will be able to give you the best advice on when to go.

Featured Activity

La Jolla Underwater Park: Kayak and Snorkel Tour
La Jolla Kayak & Snorkel Tour
Jump on a kayak and follow an experienced guide to find the best snorkeling spot in the La Jolla Ecological Reserve! On this 2-hour tour, you can expect to see a variety of fish and other marine animals!
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Best Places to Go Kayaking in San Diego

San Diego has a variation of choices when it comes to kayaking because it boasts 70 miles of coastline. Visitors can kayak the ocean, protected harbors or freshwater lakes and experience the sights around them. In fact, there’s a good possibility you’ll see dolphins, seals or a sea cave.

While visitors can kayak anywhere along the San Diego coast, there are a few notable launch areas. A few popular kayaking locations in San Diego are: La Jolla Shores, Coronado Island, Mission Bay and Carlsbad Lagoon. In addition to renting a kayak in one of these places, there's also the option for a kayak tour.

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores beach spans across 7 miles of San Diego’s coastline and is one of the most popular locations for kayakers. In fact, a majority of the kayak rental businesses will be found in this area.

Many choose the area because it is protected from summer swells and a great place to explore the local, aquatic wildlife. While kayaking in La Jolla Shores it’s not uncommon to see leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish, sea lion colonies, sea caves and kelp beds because of the crystal clear water.

La Jolla Cove is also popular amongst locals who want to set out for the afternoon or who enjoy kayak fishing.

The view alone is enough reason for kayakers to choose La Jolla as their destination. The area is surrounded on three sides by the sea and then boasts an amazing view of Mt. Soledad slopes.

Coronado Island

Coronado Island is also referred to as “The Crown City” because of its long, sandy beaches that are known to sparkle. When you think about a postcard of San Diego, Coronado Island is precisely what you can expect to experience.

The Coronado Bay Channel is a favored kayaking spot because of its unique views of the island and San Diego skyline. In addition, it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins, seals or whales while kayaking the Coronado Bay.

Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay Park is part of the largest man-made aquatic park in the United States. The area consists of 4,235 acres that are 46% land and 54% water. In fact, Mission Bay is popularly known for water sport activities.

Known as a “Water Wonderland,” Mission Bay is the perfect place for families to go for a day filled with fun for everyone. There are several kayak rental companies and places to launch. In addition, there’s several other activities like water skiing, sailing and kite surfing to choose from.

Carlsbad Lagoon

Carlsbad is known as one of San Diego’s best kept secrets that provides visitors a beautiful, scenic view. Carlsbad comprises three lagoons that cover over 1,000 acres. Agua Hedionda Lagoon, commonly called Carlsbad Lagoon, is popular for its year-round recreational use.

Carlsbad Lagoon is a saltwater wetland and watershed that has: mud flats, freshwater marsh, salt and deep water. This is a popular location for kayakers who want to witness a variety of birds and wildlife.

Popular Hotels Nearby
Popular Hotels
Price
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
$190
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San Diego Mission Bay Resort
$203
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Bahia Resort Hotel
$199
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The Dana on Mission Bay
$179
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Best Kayak Rental Places in San Diego

San Diego offers so many activities for visitors that make narrowing down the itinerary difficult. Luckily, there is the option to purchase a Go San Diego Card which helps visitors save 55% off attractions. There are different options which include an All-Inclusive pass, Explorer pass or a Build Your Own option.

The Go San Diego Card is extremely useful for water sport rentals. In fact, there are several options for 90 minute rentals or longer, so visitors can have their choice between areas like La Jolla kayak rentals or Coronado kayak rentals.

Bike and Kayak Tours in Coronado has a 90-minute tandem kayak rental available through Go San Diego. With this pass, visitors will pay nothing upon arrival and will just need to scan their digital pass. From there, kayakers will set off to explore Coronado Island and experience views of the San Diego skyline.

There is also an option for a 90-minute kayak rental in La Jolla. Similar to the Coronado experience, all you need to do is scan your digital pass and you’ll receive all the equipment needed for a kayaking venture.

Kayaking with Go Pass!
San Diego Harbor - 2 Hour Kayak Rental
San Diego Harbor - Kayak Rental
Head out onto San Diego Harbor with a 2-hour kayak rental. Using your Go Pass, you can rent a one or two person kayak to explore the waters. Fly Guy Watersports also provides a map and life jacket for you to take out on your journey.
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Local Tips
What is the cheapest way to buy a Go Pass?

The cheapest way to purchase a Go San Diego Pass is to combine Go Visit San Diego’s exclusive 5% discount with the Go San Diego Passes already great deals!

No code needed - simply follow our link to purchase your pass and begin saving!

Tips for Kayaking

Safety First

Despite your experience level, it’s always important to remain safe while kayaking. Each kayaker should wear a personal flotation device at all times.

Kayakers that are planning to go off-shore should carry a signaling device and bring water to drink. It’s never a bad idea to pack additional emergency gear.

Don’t Get Caught in a Storm

Always check the weather before going kayaking. Make sure that there aren’t any storms that are expected to roll through and that the wind is fairly calm.

New to Kayaking = Book a Tour

If you're new at kayaking then try to plan a kayak tour or aim to go when the water is calm. It's also important to take all safety precautions seriously and to stay close to shore in case an accident occurs.

Don’t Get Burned

Be sure to apply sunscreen, even if the weather is overcast. While San Diego is highly regarded for its sunny weather, it's still important to keep your skin safe and taken care of!

Looking to Save on Tickets?
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Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
This Month's Forecast
Oct
61℉ / 81℉
Sunny in October
Nov
53℉ / 75℉
Sunny in November
Dec
48℉ / 69℉
Sunny in December

Stay Nearby

Paradise Point Resort & Spa
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
from $190 / night
View Hotel
San Diego Mission Bay Resort
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
San Diego Mission Bay Resort
from $203 / night
View Hotel
Bahia Resort Hotel
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Bahia Resort Hotel
from $199 / night
View Hotel
The Dana on Mission Bay
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
The Dana on Mission Bay
from $179 / night
View Hotel
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Tours & Adventures
Explore San Diego Bay
Explore San Diego Bay
$42 per person
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Jet Ski Rental - San Diego Harbor
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