Kayak stores in SoCal?

I’m looking for recommendations: Please name one or more stores in SoCal that sell kayaks and that you think treat their customers well (or at least fairly).

If rentals/demos of better-quality boats (e.g., Dagger Stratos :wink: ) are available through them, that’s a plus. If you wish to refer me to a particular individual working there, that’s fantastic.

(Also, if you’d like to recommend a place that rents such boats but isn’t a retailer, that’s welcome too.)

In case it’s not obvious, I’m not looking to buy a cheap “rec kayak” at Big 5, etc. I’m upgrading from that sort of thing. If I could, I’d buy another Dagger Blackwater like I had years ago, but I digress…

I’d prefer to see–and if possible try–before buying, even if that entails a road trip. If I order something for delivery, I’ll be paying plenty for freight shipping anyway.

Check out any boat brands carried by the various folks at Newport Aquatics Center. NAC is a premier boat club in the area with many knowledgeable people. Even if they don’t carry what you want, they probably know the right people in the area.

Also I remember Central Coast Kayaks in Pismo Beach was recommended by someone on here.

Most of the best kayak dealers in Southern California have gone out of business. Aqua-Adventures used to be one one of the best until Jenn Kleck sold the store. It’s now mostly rental business. The carry Epic , Ocean Kayak, and Perception brands, probably not what you are looking for.

“Most of the best kayak dealers in Southern California have gone out of business”

So, where do people shop? There are 20-25 million people in SoCal, and you’re on the coast, surely the demand is there.

I looked through the NAC site. They are primarily focused on rowing. There are kayak rentals but judging by the pics, they’re just basic sit-on-tops. Same with the kayaks used for the kid camps. But, as you say, perhaps someone there could point me toward retailers.

Central Coast Kayaks appears to be all about rentals and tours. But pics on the site show what look close to sea kayaks. They don’t state which boats they rent, so I’ll have to call them.

Many rental outfits have gone to SOTs because of safety … re-entry after a swim is much easier to teach and learn.

I heard from a former CCK’s employee’s facebook account that they have a big sale this weekend. I would give them a call and see what they still carry. It’s true most of southern california shops have closed down or sell only SOTs lately. Most seakayakers seem to get boats through the grapevine. My hardcore seakayaking friends have moved on to surf skis. There may be better sources in the Bay area, Monterrey . A few years ago there were still lots of seakayak sales in coastal oregon and washington, not sure if that is true now.

I have found boats through two clubs: California Kayak Friends, and BASK. Mostly though I have bought boats that I heard through the grapevine were for sale.

Seakayaks are really a very niche market that was aimed at people with lots of money. A lot of those people are hanging up their paddles because of age issues. It’s hard to run a business to support such a small market. Surfing and SUP surfing are much less expensive and don’t require gear, storage, transport etc etc. so young people are not getting involved.

I’ve noticed that dedicated kayak shops have mostly disappeared from SoCal.

Southwind Kayak Center closed their store few years ago and now only maintains their kayak rental center at Newport Harbor.

Ocean Paddle Sports in Costa Mesa only sells high end surfskis and high end paddleboards.

May have to resort to driving up to Central/Northern CA. Or get a kayak from REI.

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If willing to drive up to the Central Coast, there’s Kayak Connection in Santa Cruz that carries Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Old Town, Wilderness Systems, Perception, and Eddyline.

Or up to Clavey Paddlesports in Petaluma that carries Delta, Eddyline, Ocean Kayak, Old Town.

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Where are you located? REI sometimes uses Stratos in their classes. Mission Bay Aquatics rents sea kayaks. OEX website says they have rentals. There are demo days in Northern California.

I’ll suggest you work the other way. Find the manufacturers you want and use their dealer locator map. We often look at things when we happen to be somewhere for something else.
Also keep in mind that there are often demo affiliates that are not showrooms.(at least in Europe)

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That is the reality and demographic/economic trend. Even in New England, a couple of the really well stocked sea kayaking oriented shops have closed in the last 10-15 years. The remaining ones have reduced their range of sea kayak options in favor of more “vanilla” rec/day tourers, SOTs and SUPs. Can still order more high end/high performance sea kayaks with the specialized outfitters/guide shops like:

I think the white water shops, especially those in proximity to white water runs are still hanging on, probably because the boats are less expensive and the sport still appeals to a younger group that can grow into the sport (sort of like snowboarders/downhill skiers).

And, the emerging “surf kayaking/waveski” scene of over a decade ago… Forget about it. The equipment has basically dissappeared from the New England. Equipment costs almost as much, if not as much as sea kayaks. It should appeal to the white water contingent, with the same adrenaline based and skill requirements, but the cross-over never happened. Equipment basically has to be customed, or specially ordered and shipped, making it even more expensive.


Yup. I have plenty of boats, my only move now would be to lose the few older for one new one but my own paddling is down in terms of aggressiveness. Which is OK for where the rest of my life is. I am hardly alone in this.

There is one other factor for sea kayakiing. An amount of the drive was due to people being in the program of training and certifications run by the BCU in hot spots for them, the northeast, PNW and some presence in the Great Lakes. This created a cadre of paddlers who were interested in more aggressive paddling and getting performance boats.

Somewhere around 2009 (not sure of date) the BCU as run out of Great Britain shot itself in the foot with a change in requirements that did not work in the US. They revamped the levels so that many people who had been moving thru were faced with interruptions to progress that seemed not worth the bother. Those changes were variously enforced but the RCO in the northeast remained a stalwart defender of the silliest, a canoe requirement for sea kayaking, and enforced a higher level of competence than some other areas of the country. That requirement was eventually discarded but not until after it had done a job on participation in the northeast, which is the area of the country that first brought the BCU to the US. Going into this there had also been some less than kind treatment by some of the leading advocates of other coaches less high on the totem pole, which is not unusual in any organization but was not helpful when massive changes came along.

The BCU was followed by a US based organization, but the main organization in England refused to let the US organization make any real changes. Following the major changes, Scotland also saw a breakaway organization form over disputes with the folks out of England.

In the meantime, the ACA strengthened their sea kayaking program in the last couple of decades. Making them more accessible for a paddler population that, as said above, is diminishingly about the higher end equipment and training costs for aggressive sea kayaking.

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Interesting! That coincides with what I have perceived as a shrinking sea kayak community in the Duluth/Western Lake Superior region. Seems to me that way more people were taking up the sport back in the mid-90’s to mid-00’s … there was a vibrant scene of (mostly) new-comers to the sea kayaking, including many from Minneapolis/St. Paul who would regularly make the 2+ hr trek to Duluth.
A few tour operators remain and the University of Minnesota - Duluth still runs a nice range of summer classes. But if you’re in the market for new equipment and Google “Sea Kayaks Duluth”, you get Walmart, Dick’s, and Fleet Farm.
Um, no. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

The aquatic center rents but doesn’t have any large selection of sea kayaks for sale.

OEX is now aimed at SOTs, mostly fishing oriented. I bought a Focus SUP from them a few years ago before they moved location.

Hello. I’ve delt with Central Coast Kayaks in the past, and they are always terrific. I just called them, and the only sit in boats they have for sale are consignment boats (Perception Carolina 14 was one). Worth a call.
If you are up for a road trip, check out Clavey Paddlesports in Petaluma. You can see what they carry on their website. I do know that they carry Eddyline and Delta, who both make great boats.

I haven’t been replying much but I have been reading the replies. Thanks to everyone for your inputs!

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With the aging of sea kayaker, lots of used sea kayaks on the market. I got my Mariner 9 years ago for $400. Picked up a Nordkapp from the same gentleman last year for $250.