If you want to get out on the water for kayaking or stand up paddleboarding in the San Diego area, you are in luck as it’s easy to do and you have a lot of choices. We love to kayak and SUP too so we’ve done all the work for you. These are the locations we recommend and the places where you can rent gear.
Shelter Island & Point Loma, San Diego Bay
Paddling around Shelter Island and Americas Cup Harbor is a hoot and this area is on the bay side of Point Loma so the water is calm. If you have your own kayak or SUP you can put in at Shelter Island Beach. If not then you can rent with Action Sport Rentals at the Kona Kai Resort Hotel (on Shelter Island) or at Disco’s at Sun Harbor Marina (on America’s Cup Harbor).
Harbor Island, San Diego Bay
Exploring all around Harbor Island can be fun. On the west end it is possible to paddle under Harbor Drive and follow the shore of Liberty Station NTC Park (public park) all the way to Liberty Station Boat Ramp and then return. This route goes under the flight path of San Diego International Airport which can be fun. If you have your own kayak or SUP you can put in at Spanish Landing Park. If you need to rent contact SD Adventure Rentals on the water below Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.
Coronado Cays, San Diego Bay
The many channels around the homes of Coronado Cays are perfect for an afternoon SUP. But with a kayak you might want to venture farther to the south or across the bay. Either way you’ll be exploring the shores of San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you have your own kayak or SUP you can put in at Grand Caribe Park. If you need to rent, contact Action Sports Rentals at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort.
Coronado Ferry Landing, San Diego Bay
If you want to kayak or SUP with the best view of San Diego’s skyline this is your spot. With your own gear you can put in at Centennial Park which is adjacent to the ferry dock. If you want to rent a kayak or SUP then contact Bike and Kayak Tours at their Coronado Ferry Landing location.
Crown Cove, San Diego Bay
You can rent all sorts of small watercraft at Crown Cove to get out on San Diego Bay. From there you can paddle along the shoreline of Coronado Island or if you are an experienced kayaker, cross over the open bay to Sweetwater Marsh.
Mission Bay Park
There are so many parks and beaches on Mission Bay in San Diego that we don’t have room to list them here. You can start your adventure just about anywhere on this man-made bay and explore the shoreline for hours. With your own gear you can put in at Ski Beach to do a loop around Vacation Isle or launch at the beach on Fiesta Island. Those are just two of the many options you have. If you want to rent a kayak or SUP contact Aqua Adventures or Action Sports Rentals (they have several locations at resorts on Mission Bay). One more option is to go night time kayaking with See Bottom Kayaking.
La Jolla Caves
To paddle out to La Jolla Caves, the most interesting location on this list, you must start at La Jolla Shores Beach. At the south end of La Jolla Shores they rent kayaks and SUPs for touring La Jolla Bay and the amazing caves below the Coast Walk Trail. And if you want a guide (recommended) they take groups of kayakers out to the caves daily unless the surf is too rough (guides are required for entering caves). Contact Bike and Kayak Tours or La Jolla Kayak or La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks to book your paddle (all three are located on Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla).
Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Carlsbad
Agua Hedionda is frequently called Carlsbad Lagoon, but we like the original name better. This is a natural lagoon and estuary where Agua Hedionda Creek meets the ocean. Other lagoons in the area, including Buena Vista Lagoon and Batiquitos Lagoon, don’t allow watercraft as they would disturb natural habitats, so Agua Hedionda is a treasure for those who want to recreate on the water. Although you’ll have to share the water with power boats there are ways to paddle this lagoon without conflicts. If you have your own gear then put in at 4750 Bayshore Drive in Carlsbad. If you need to rent then contact Blue Paddle SUP or California Watersports (they have pedal boats and aqua cycles too).
While Oceanside Harbor is too small for kayaking (except for kayakers who want to venture out into the open ocean), it is a good place to launch a stand-up paddleboard. If you have your own SUP then put in at Oceanside Harbor Beach (there is a boat launch on the harbor side), otherwise, contact Blue Paddle SUP for rentals.