Best time to visit San Diego

Kayaking in San Diego

A great way to discover the natural beauty and wildlife of San Diego County

Best time: March–October


San Diego is located in a picturesque spot on the coast, so a kayak or any kind of boat is a great way to explore the city and get to its natural wonders. You can watch dolphins, leopard sharks, seals and sea lions, and explore the coves and islands.

There are plenty of rentals and many guided tours are offered from a few hours to a few days. Plastic "sit-on-top" light and durable kayaks that don't require any formal training is the most popular kind among visitors.

Kayaking season in San Diego is generally March through September or October. Summer and fall is the prime time for kayaking in San Diego. The sea is quite calm and the water temperature is warm enough to kayak simply in a swimsuit or shorts.

If you decide to go kayaking in the winter, you'll definitely need a full wetsuit. Also, the water and winds get rough over winter, so some kayaking experience is needed. If you want to take some lessons, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center offers courses for kayakers and paddlers.

La Jolla beach is definitely the most popular kayaking destination. The waters are quite calm here, so it's ideal for beginners. There are kelp beds, sea caves, seals and sea lion colonies. Other popular spots include Mission Bay, Coronado Island, Carlsbad Lagoon and Oceanside Harbor. There are also a few lakes and reservoirs in San Diego County, where you can combine kayaking and fishing.

Practical info

When is the best time to go kayaking in San Diego?

Kayaking in San Diego is best experienced from March till October, during summer and fall. The sea is relatively calm, and the water temperature is warm enough but requires a full wetsuit and experience during winter. Hence, kayaking is a seasonal sport in San Diego. Show more

What type of kayaks are available for rent in San Diego?

In San Diego, you can rent a sit-on-top plastic kayak from most kayak rental shops. You can quickly learn to paddle these kayaks without any formal training. Besides single and tandem sea kayaks, rental shops also offer fishing kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for visitors to rent during their stay in San Diego. Show more

Where are the most popular kayaking spots in San Diego?

La Jolla beach, Mission Bay, Coronado Island, Carlsbad Lagoon, and Oceanside Harbor are the most popular kayaking spots in San Diego. La Jolla, in particular, attracts beginners due to its calm waters that allows tourists to witness sea life while kayaking through caves and kelp beds. San Diego also has reservoirs and lakes for fishers to consider. Show more

What marine wildlife can you spot while kayaking in San Diego?

Kayaking in San Diego provides visitors with an opportunity to witness different marine species in their natural habitat. You can spot sea lions, seals, leopard sharks, dolphins, and many seabird species during your kayaking adventure. Alternatively, kayakers can experience marine biodiversity in kelp beds, which house many aquatic species such as garibaldi, shellfish, and small fish species in San Diego. Show more

Do I need any kayaking experience to go kayaking in San Diego?

Kayaking does not require experience for beginners since there are 'sit-on-top' kayaks available for rent in San Diego. However, a few shops offer lessons for those concerned about safety and also cover the basics of kayaking. During winter when the water and winds are rough, having kayaking experience is advisable before attempting to kayak in San Diego. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: