Now is a good time to learn to kayak.
It’s a year-round activity (here, at least), it’s excellent outdoor exercise, and you get incredible views of the city.
We like to think of it as cycling on the high seas, only with fewer distracted drivers and more peace and quiet.
So over the past month, we’ve been scouring local shores for trips that cater to all ages and experience levels.
From the low-budget to the high-end to the daredevil, here are our five favorite routes in the area — new gear and post-paddle dinner recommendations included.
Inner City: L.A. River
Location: Glendale to Frogtown
What you see: Waterfowl, frogs and a stretch of the L.A. river that’s a natural riverbed. You’ll hear about the local history, too.
Outfitter: L.A. River Safari leads tours, but the season closes at the end of the month so get in there quickly.
Notes: The outfitter also does bicycle trips, and can you cand do that then, too. You can also fish along the L.A. River for carp and other surly bottom feeders.
Eat nearby: Salazar for some wood-grilled carne asada and flank steaks and spicy mezcal cocktails.
Harbor: Redondo Harbor
Location: Hermosa and Redondo
What you see: seals and sea lions, nice boats and potentially
Outfitter: Rocky Point. They use sit-on-top kayaks that are great for beginners.
Notes: We went for a spin in open water, and if you have the strength you can paddle out towards the beaches. Note: Marina Del Rey also offers kayaking, but it’ll take nearly an hour to reach the ocean so you’ll spend almost all of your time paddling in the harbor verses at Redondo where you can paddle the harbor and make it out to the ocean in short time.
Eat nearby: The Abigaile for some oat sodas and some lamb belly poutine.
Coves: Palos Verdes
Location: Palos Verdes
What you see: Cliffs, coves, whales, dolphins, kelp beds and the Point Vicente Lighthouse.
Outfitter: Terranea Resort offers 80 minute kayak trips, but at $135 a head they don’t come cheap. On the flip side, these are tours lead by very experienced guides. If you’re thinking of advancing your paddling game, this is where to come. Plus, you’ll get more insight into the coves that hide around the peninsula.
Notes: This is our favorite of the kayak trips in L.A. If, like us, you’re looking delve more into the sport and do longer trips (like around Catalina), you’ll want to get familiar with Palos Verdes because the ocean is big here and there’s lots to see. You could paddle around Palos Verdes in a day, depending on the tides. But you can dip in and out of coves, launching from Cabrillo Beach or even Terranea (for free). Go to Xstreamline in San Pedro if want to dig into the best gear.
Eat nearby: Cielo at Terranea. Their adult pool serves poke bowls and great drinks. Plus, a little floating will feel good after all of that paddling.
Location: Malibu Pier
What you see: Dolphins, whales, surfers, seals, sea lions and beaches
Outfitter: Malibu Surf Shack, they rent kayaks but if you have to reschedule there’s no refund. Rather you can go in anytime and they’ll let you take them out. Once you check in, they’ll have the kayaks waiting for you by the pier.
Notes: Once you get the hang of kayaking around, take a kayak to places like Paradise Cove and El Matador. You’ll see more variation in the topography doing this, from sandy beaches to jagged cliffs and rocks.
Eat nearby: If you’re staying by the Pier, go to Malibu Farm Restaurant because you’re there and nothing beats sitting on the Pier after a paddle. But if you’re taking the kayaks to Paradise Cove or El Matador, grab some sandwiches for a picnic from John’s Garden at Malibu Country Mart. This spot has been around 40 years and was making healthy sandwiches before they were a fad. They hold up, too.
Canals: Long Beach
Location: Alamitos Bay and the Naples Island Canals
What you see: Dolphins, bungalows and boats
Outfitter: Kayaks on the Water has sit-on-tops and provides an easy launch from their calm beach.
Notes: This is a hidden gem trip, complete with calm waters for leisure paddling and lots of cool architecture to take in.
Eat nearby: Lolas for Guadalajara-style Mexican food.
Outfitters have most of the gear you’ll need, but in the event you’re looking to get more into the sport, here are some suggestions:
- A quality PFD: MTI Quest PFD
- A rash guard with sun protection: Patagonia’s RO Sun Long-sleeve
- A dry bag with a waterproof phone case: Earth Pak
- A pair of polarized sunnies: Fort Knocks Polarized Sunglasses
- A pair of good active sandles: Chaco Z/1 Classic Howler Brothers
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