Northern California - best place

We are avid sea kayakers looking to retire to Northern California (north of SF). If you could pick - where would you live to be close to great sea kayaking for day trips? Closer to Eureka or Mendocino? Other ideas?

North Coast

this is the North Coast, Eureka club. I’ve not heard of one around Mendocino, but they, and the San Francisco clubs both have week long events at Mendo.

Let You Know Next Week!
We’re doing an extended trip up to Fort Brag next week to check it out!

Lots of rock gardens & caves.


I live in the Eureka area and belong to
Explore North Coast. I’ve paddled in Mendocino. Here’s my take on it.

Mendocino has incredible sea caves and lots of rocks. It’s beautiful there. The caves are accessible during the summer and fall when conditions in the ocean are relatively calm. It’s also primarily a tourist town, which means there are lots of people.

Humboldt County also has beautiful rocks and a handful of caves. It’s pretty remote and pretty much who paddles here are locals. There’s a very active club and a very active group of ocean paddlers. The ocean is very dynamic here and many of us paddle all year round. There’s a real community you can belong to and share it with.

In neither of these places are there jobs. Housing is cheaper in Humboldt County. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Other ideas…oh yeah…
My favorites: Depot Bay, Lincoln City, Astoria, Seaside, and farther up…Puget Sound. I am currently looking at houses in Gig Harbor area. I’m a native of Ca. and suffering from “burnout” with all the problems of traffic,difficult business climate, inflated property values (although now in decline), crime, and a downward slide in the economy (relocating my business). If you get a chance, paddle the Puget Sound area and the San Juan Islands…unbelievable beauty! The Ft. Bragg/Mendocino area gets my vote for Ca. Best of luck to you!

Why no kayak club in mendocino?
I’ve seen the website for your group - it looks like a great sea kayak club - and I look forward to becoming a member whatever area we select for a house.

I’m curious, though, it looks like Eureka has a great sea kayak club and a couple of sea kayak outfitters. But I’ve not come across anything similar in Mendocino or Fort Bragg other than some sit atop rentals?

How did you select the Eureka area? Are there many fresh water alternatives when the ocean is kicking a bit too much?

You’re right that there aren’t any
outfitters or outdoor stores to speak of in the Mendocino area. And I’m not aware of any clubs. I think it probably has to do with the fact that the primary focus there is on tourists rather than on the people who actually live there. Here, we have three really good independent outdoor stores, one of which has kayaking and bicycling as it’s primary focus. And we have two local outfitters, which are both owned and operated by very talented seakayakers. Opportunities for instruction in seakayaking abound. Our public pool has weekly roll classes and practice sessions.

In Humboldt County, since it is remote and jobs are scarce, people live here because it is beautiful and access to the outdoors is easy. The natural beauty, rather than shopping, is the focus of nearly everything here. People go to Humboldt State University (in Arcata, where I live) and they love it and want to stay. So they settle for a lower monetary standard of living in order to have a higher quality of life. If you love shopping at Nordstoms, this is not the place for you. The place was all abuzz when we finally got a Target.

I was not a seakayaker when I came here. But I was looking to get out of the rat race. I knew the first time I came here that this was the place for me. I’ve not regretted it for a moment.

There are many non-ocean places to paddle here, but they are nearly all salt-water or at least brackish. There are few fresh water seakayaking spots here. Humboldt Bay is quite protected and has extensive beautiful sloughs, and our Lagoons (Big, Stone and Freshwater Lagoons) are flat, calm and beautiful.

All of Humboldt County (which is pretty large geographically) has fewer than 150,000 people. That means it’s easy to find someplace close that feels remote. And you never have to fight for a place to launch or park, even on a holiday weekend. But it’s pretty far north and on the coast, so if you are a sun worshipper you’ll hate it. It doesn’t rain all the time, but it is grey and overcast a lot. It’s why we can wear drysuits all year round and never have to worry about getting over-heated.

Let me know if you want to come and visit. I’d be happy to show you around.

Cresent City
is just a little north of Eureka and is also a very nice place to paddle. It is a much smaller harbour. Coos Bay and Bend OR are a couple nice small towns not far into Oregon. Siltcoos Lake just south of Florence OR empties into the ocean via a seven mile river.

If you want a bigger town with warmer weather, consider the Sacramento area. 2 lakes and 2 rivers locally. 2 hrs to Lake Tahoe. 2 hours to the coast.

Sonoma County is nice too.
Near by is Lake Sonoma (it’s big), Tomales Bay, the Russian River, and other rivers and lakes. And of course the ocean.

I have a question
When you say the “north” coast do you mean suburban San Francisco or do you mean the “real” north coast which begins at Cape Mendocino and extends northward into Canada?

If you’re talking about south of the cape I can’t help you aside from suggesting that you bring lots, and lots, of money.

I would advise anyone contemplating moving to our North Coast / Pacific Northwest climate to visit more than once before moving here as although we believe we live in god’s paradise on earth, not many people agree with us!

As I write we are in the midst of Indian Summer. Last week was beautiful, sunny and warm, but we have not actually seen the sun since Saturday due to the thick marine layer that [de]presses down upon us from above.

On the other hand we rarely freeze and we only see snow about once every 10 years, or so.

I don’t own any summer clothes; nor do I own any winter clothes. We mostly wear just fall clothes with an occasional splash of color added to our wardrobes in the spring.

Our coastline is spectacular, lightly boated, and ruthlessly unforgiving.

The locals could easily be classified as rednecks (aside from Arcata where the wannabe hippies live) and if you can sleep soundly with the knowledge that there are more personal firewarms than there are people, I say “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

On the other hand, if you want or need sidewalks, streetlights, shopping malls, medical specialists, or government services and are not a fan of damp, windy, and cold weather interrupted with periods of brilliant sunshine and spectacular warmth, you may want to stay in Pennsylvania.

That was perfect nm