Canoe/Kayak to Channel Islands

I forgot to mention, you can rent kayaks and paddles at Lake Tahoe.

Not sure about the other locations, other than around SF Bay.

Paddling in Monterey Bay and out to the headlands there is a really nice day trip too. Monterey Bay Kayaks can assist you with gear and rentals for that, and they’re on the beach, so you can launch from the store there.

The MB Aquarium is a must visit too, if you want to check out the local underwater life, and are not a diver, or forgot your diving gear.

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When we rented from Adrift Tahoe at Tahoe a few years ago they would not rent us SINKs unless we could demonstrate a wet exit and self rescue – strict policy and understandable. I could have done so but considered the prospect of having to start that warm but slightly breezy day soaking wet and took the tandem sit on top option instead. I was with a relative kayaking newbie so that was probably the better option for a close to shore lily dip day paddle anyway. But it reminded me how tiresome a SOT can be to paddle.

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Good morning from England, MClmes,

Thank you for your kind offer, I’d be delighted to go for a paddle with you around Oxnard.
The wonders of google maps shows there’s the Santa Clara river near you, is this any good for paddling?

Thank you string

NE coast is somewhere I’d like to explore, the 1000 islands looks amazing, tho not sure what the camping is like there.
I canoed Algonquin 2 years ago and very quickly discovered North America is so huge it’s mind boggling!
There’s so much stunning, pristine landscapes to explore, and its safe and easy and just wonderful.
Only money and time (and pandemics) are stopping me from discovering it all.
Have you paddled the NE coast?

I have visited the NE but my area is the SE US.
Like you said, money and time.

The rivers around oxnard are not real rivers. They are desert rivers - that is, they flow somewhat when it rains hard (like, really hard, and only after the ground is saturated. We only had about 4 rainstorms last year (horrible drought) and none really produced runoff. The ground is so dry it just soaked it up and added very little water to our reservoirs).
Even if the river was ‘flowing’ they are not nice or navigable like a normal ‘real’ river. Brush grows in most of the channel during the dry season and the water is often poor quality. We are actually advised by public health authorities not to go near the rivers due to bacteria in the water.
So that’s a long way of saying dont consider any southern california ‘rivers’ for paddling.

Most of our reservoirs do not allow paddling, but 2 do - Lake Cachuma which is northwest of Santa Barbara off highway 154 and Lake Piru which is northeast, but its very low so I would call ahead if you want to try there. Cachuma is better anyways.

So that leaves you with the following places to paddle -
The ocean
The harbors (ventura or oxnard harbor) This is a good option if you want flat, protected water
Lake Cachuma or Piru (can be flat, or can get up to 2’ waves. Check the wind forecast. Typically we get calm mornings and afternoon winds. Dont be caught on the wrong side of the lake when the wind picks up. It usually blows from the west or north.)

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Good morning RobKj

Thank you for your excellent advice and info, its very much appreciated!

SF bay appears to be a day trip as you advise, the size of the bay is breath taking, when i first saw it I immediately wanted to get on the water and explore it.

Tomales Bay looks awesome, another top tip form a local, Bodega Bay - wow! I want to live there!

Your description of cabins on Catalina is the type of accommodation I dream about, basic, surrounded by nature and preferably with good friends.

Your description of lower Sac river, that’s really good to know, I’ve been on too many rivers where all you see is flood embankments and nothing else, gets a bit boring, so another top tip.

Its appears the Sac river is the only place in Cali where you can canoe (open canoe) and wild (commando) camp, if i started at the dam above Chico, where you did, how far would 3 days/2 nights get us? are there any islands?

Tahoe - on my visit in 2018, a few people mentioned Tahoe as a place to visit, it looks stunning but lakes tend to not have many islands, the 6 mth deadline for camping reservations is a tough one, i tried booking campsites on the coast when we did the Big Sur and Yosemite, but man alive - everything was gone in less than 10 mins!

Do you have any tips on how to get a camping reservation? (when I tried I had 3 people on separate computers trying to get one place for me).

Thank you for the offer of Tahoe meet up, I’d be delighted to do that, my main problem is trying to do so much in so little time in California, its a wonderful place, not without its issues like anywhere else, but truely stunning in a jaw dropping kinda way.

Monterey Bay - in 2019 we got there at sun set (too many stops to gape at the wonderous scenery), so MB is somewhere i defo want to visit again and get into the water 100% going to do that and stay in Carmel.

I’m guessing you’ve been to Carmel, as a native Californian, whats your opinion on this place?

Thank you for the advice MClmes, especially the wind on the lakes, in 2018 my girlfriend and I took a canoe hire on Big Bear, very nice but the wind picked up and it was like paddling through treacle!

Southern Cali rivers are non-starter then, how abt Sacramento river, that’s ok?

Yes, the Sacramento river is a ‘real’ river, 100 meters wide and slow flowing. It would be a good option to travel down, although I’m unfamiliar what resources are available such as parks, boat ramps, and the like.

And yep, the afternoon winds can catch people off guard. The whole state seems to get some wind in the afternoon so if you like calm waters the morning is the best time to paddle

@Admiral Answering some of your questions to others.

The flood embankments on the Sacramento start somewhere a bit downstream from Chico. To avoid this, do the upper part. If you go from Redding to Chico, it is about 100 miles. There is a group trip run by a non-profit which does this over 4 days/3nights.

Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove are all right next to each other, and all parts of Monterey Peninsula. Slight variations in the type of people and amount of money in each town, with Carmel being the most affluent.

The upper Sacramento River is rough and not suitable for canoes.
Below Redding it is suitable for people with moving water experience. Do not leave cars unattended.

The Eel River is not that difficult but has a short window for suitable flows.

Many people paddle on the Coast but it is for experienced people.

Lake Tahoe is cold and rough most of the time with no where to hide. It has a lot of rules and camping is not so easy.

There are plenty of long rivers in California besides the Sacramento River for longer trips. I like the Feather, Trinity, Klamath and many others.