San Jose, Sunnyvale area kayak rentals

I have some chances to tag along (with my husband) for a “companion air fare” to CA. He’ll be busy during the day, and I would rent a car to get around.

Suggestions for good places to rent and paddle from? A shop that’s right on the water is what I’m hoping for, to avoid having to jury-rig a rental car roof.

Suggestions for other fun things to do are also appreciated. I once went to Monterey Aquarium and would return for a second, longer visit but don’t yet have any other must-sees in mind. Well, other than do the tourist thing in San Francisco…ride the trolley on the hills, eat good dim sum, gawk at the bridge, that kind of stuff. The only time I ever was in SF was spent waiting in the airport during a plane change, and it’s high time to change that!

San Jose
is in the shallow bottom of the bay and the best outfitters are 40-60 miles away. If you go down to Monterey (or a bit short of there at Moss Landing), there are two Monterey Bay Kayak locations. Both are right on the water, so no boat hauling should be required. The Moss Landing location is on the mount of the estuary, so you can either paddle out to the ocean or into the calm shallows (though currents can be tiring if you try to paddle against the tide).

To the north (of SF), Sausilito has Sea Trek, an equally good outfitter, that is right on the waters of the bay.

Of minor mention is “Adventures by the Sea,” a tourist kayak rental at Lover’s Point (Monterey). They rent only plastic SOT boats.

I haven’t rented in quite a while, so I don’t know the current rates, though MBK and Sea Trek, I believe, have those posted on their websites.

There are certainly rentals available in Santa Cruz (only 20 some miles S of San Jose), but if I am going paddling, I drive the extra miles to get to Monterey where the water is clearer and the wildlife is more dense, so I don’t know any of the outfitters there.


on the water rentals
As said above, not much in San Jose itself. Outback Adventrues is a shop in Fremont, and California Canoe and Kayak now has a shop in San Carlos (used to be Aquan Sports). Those are the closest to San Jose and neither is on the water.

In regards to going and shopping, California Canoe and Kayak is the most high-end paddling shop in the Bay Area.

On the water options (in rough order based on distance from SJ):

  • Half Moon Bay Kayaks in Half Moon Bay
  • Kayak Connection in Santa Cruz
  • California Canoe and Kayak in Oakland
  • Kayak Connection or Monetrey Bay Kayaks at Moss Landing (lots of animal to be seen there)
  • Sea Trek in Sausalito
  • Monterey Bay Kayaks in Monterey
  • Blue Waters Kayaks in Tomales Bay

oh, if timing is right
If timing is right, I may be able to meet you at some point for a paddle or some sight seeing. I have a somewhat flexible schedule.

Ditto Peter’s list - but …

– Last Updated: Dec-09-14 1:11 PM EST –

If you have plenty of time I would rent a kayak or SUP from Kayak Connection in Moss Landing and explore the slough. Lots of sea otters and it's a nice pleasant flat water paddle. I got converted to SUP paddling there.

Seatrek is a great organization and a good place to rent in the bay area. I'm not sure it would be a good idea to explore near the mouth of the bay this time of year by yourself. If the weather is good small waves and swell, it's a really great place. Also really dicey if you don't know the area.

A lot of the other venues on the coast are going to be pretty rough this time of year we are starting to get some heavy duty swells and Santa Cruz may not be that pleasant. If waves are small and low winds Monterey would be fine.

If the surf forecast is reasonable and you have your waveski along I think Pacifica state beach is user friendly for beginner / intermediate surfers. If you get a chance to go with Peter so he can show you local reasonable spots it would be great. My experience in the area is that you can get yourself into a lot of trouble pretty easy without local knowledge.

If you are stuck in San Jose / Mountain view check out the Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center. It's nothing spectacular but you can rent an SUP or SOT and lilly dip around the small lake.

If you like to see the sites …

– Last Updated: Dec-09-14 1:21 PM EST –

If you have a car in the day time you can drive down to
the south end of Monterrey and visit Point Lobos State Park, and then drive up the coast. There is a tourist trap scenic loop in Monterrey that is a long slow drive but kind of nice see the area and homes. North of Santa Cruz a way there are several nice state beaches that are very scenic on the way up to Pacifica and the Bay area. A stop for lunch at Duarte's in Pescadero is good.
You can drive through the redwoods through Hondo back to Silicon Valley or drive up to the bay area on route 1. A tip for getting around is to use the 280 and avoid the 101 for going up to the water areas in SF.

I like hiking in Big Basin State Park and Henry Cowles Redwood Stake Park. Near SF I also like Muir Woods and Muir Beach. The drive up to Bolinas is really nice too, and it's a pretty safe place to surf by yourself, you can rent surfboards and SUP there but I don't think kayaks.

Monterey sounds great
Clear water and lots of wildlife, two of my favorite paddling features. When I think of Monterey, I instantly visualize sea otters floating around, a la the Brent Reitz Forward Stroke video. Since I have yet to encounter a sea otter, it’ll be a real treat for me to see them.

Thanks for your help!

Listing by distance VERY useful
I looked at a few of the shops’ websites last night, and I thought the Half Moon Bay one was closed for the season…will double-check on that.

The Moss Landing site sounds terrific so I’ll contact them in addition to the ones right at Monterey Bay.

Thank you, too.

That’s 3 votes for Moss Landing
Sea otters are one of the marine mammals I have long wanted to see. The ones here are big river otters; I guess they eat really well from the sea buffet.

Will look for info on Seatrek. I’m not bringing the wave ski (flying to CA) so just looking to paddle pretty much anything. Not real choosy about specifics other than getting a decent one-person kayak that fits alright.

The lake at Shoreline Aquatic Center sounds like a Plan B in case weather kicks up hard. Good to know it’s there–thanks for mentioning that. I’ve never SUPed but would be willing to try it.

Wherever I go, I’ll be digging up tide and weather info as much as possible. There’s the local “watch-outs” to ask about, but also the standard stuff like avoiding wind-against-tide and being cautious at river mouths. And not making the mistake written about in an old article someone wrote for Canoe and Kayak Magazine: getting stuck at low tide in the muck of Elkhorn Slough. Something about a 6-hour wait while desperately needing to pee but unable to set foot in the sticky, deep, mud. LOL.

Will contact you as soon as I know
Depends on when my husband gets asked to go there. I can’t go with him next week, so it won’t be in December.

Thanks for the offer, and I hope we can give it a go. And let me know if you get out my way, too. Summer and early fall are best :wink: Loooong stretches of daylight and dry weather. Unlike now.

moss landing

– Last Updated: Dec-10-14 1:06 AM EST –

You probably know, but just to make sure it us clear - Moss Landing is actually part of Monterey Bay, as is Santa Cruz and Monterey. If you go there (ML), you will very likely see sea otters (and harbor seals and sea lions) before you even launch. Sea otters are often seen at Santa Cruz and Monterey also.

On Sea Trek, I think they don't allow rentals to go past the ferry landing, which woukd keep you out if any major currents.

Monterey Bay Kayaks
Both their locations look interesting, and their rates are very reasonable. Sea Trek puts a lot of emphasis on doubles…hopefully that’s just for guided tours. Also, they rent by the hour, which seems to discourage much exploring. I don’t want to feel I have to get back in 2 or 3 hours or be restricted too much in where to go. That’s almost as bad as a group tour.

As seadart says
winter conditions in N. California are a dicey proposition. Moss Landing opens directly to the bay and I’ve paddle out there in storm conditions (waves 20+ feet) and found that returning was easy since the swell didn’t break. Nice roller coaster ride, though :). Conditions have to be really lousy for the paddling to be inaccessible, though beam winds are likely since storms generally arrive nearly perpendicular to Elkhorn Slough.

The bay itself can be challenging, depending on conditions. Confused conditions and high winds are not uncommon, but neither are warm calm conditions. Weather reports for places as few as 10 miles away may be inaccurate for Monterey. I’ve found miserable conditions on days where the projections were mild and vice versa.

I didn’t add the caveat of cold water (actually, warmer than average in winter and, this year, warmer than usual), but prepare for sub 60’s temperatures (55 is about average, currently 57-58).


they do rent singles
Doubles are what they use for tours (I am a part time guide for them - helping when they have large tours and need extra guides). But they also rent singles. And usually more aimed at SOTs. To rent a SINKs with skirt, you may need to describe the rescue procedures you would need to do.

In Moss landing, I think the rentals are limited to staying in the slough - not allowed to go out into open bay. At Monterey and Santa Cruz, you are allowed (pretty much all you can do) to go out into bay.

If you wanted to rent/demo, then let me know what type of boat you’d want to try and I can see if I know who carries it. Usually you can arrange a rental/demo of a boat - and this often is an easier way to paddle a SINK with skirt than a general rental. P&H, Valley, Hobee, Current Designs are at California Canoe & Kayak, and they have on-water at Oakland and also have at Half Moon bay (would need to make special arrangement for HMB, as that location is not manned daily). NDK, P&H, Valley at Sunrise Mountain Sports (no on water location). I think Kayak Connection carries Seaward, but they changed ownership a short while back and I am not sure if they changed products.