Paddle around Morro Bay on a kayak

January 8, 2007 

No experience necessary! Morro Bay’s flat, protected waters make it ideal even for the first-time paddler. By kayak or canoe is a great way to explore the rich tidal estuary and diverse wildlife – from seals, sea lions and otters to herons, egrets, cormorants, pelicans and other birds. Take a guided tour or go it alone – rental shops will provide you with on-shore instruction to get you on your way.

Paddle across the bay to the sandspit for a picnic and short walk to the ocean side. Glide along the waterfront south to see the heron rookery, stop by the Natural History Museum to learn more about the flora and fauna of the estuary and get a bite to eat at Bayside Café; in the state park marina. Make the short trip to Baywood Park, pull up to the public landing and choose from coffee, sandwiches, Thai or Mexican food, timing the trip with the tides to make it "downriver" both ways. If wind and tide conditions are right, explore the southern end of the bay, a haven for seals, small leopard sharks, rays, and shore and wading birds.

Among the many adventures offered by Central Coast Outdoors (805-528-1080) are kayak tours of the bay. Options include: half-day morning kayak with a stop on the sandspit and optional picnic lunch ($65, $85 with lunch and wine or beer); sunset paddle with a stop on the sandspit for a drink ($75); full moon paddle ($60, call or check Web site for dates); dinner on the dunes, with a half-day afternoon kayak and stop on the sandspit for grilled dinner and drinks ($100); and full day kayak and hike, with a morning paddle, lunch on the sandspit and afternoon eco-tour hike (starting $100). You also can arrange for personalized private tours. The outfitter also offers a variety of bike tours, naturalist hikes, photo tours and custom multi-day trips.

Kayak Horizons (551 Embarcadero, 805-772-6444) offers a three-hour tour of the bay and estuary at 10 a.m. daily. The $65 tour includes a stop on the sandspit for a walk in the dunes and a snack. Or rent from their fleet of basic or touring kayaks for $12 for the first hour, and then $8 after that, broken in 15 minute increments. For 4+ hours (half-day), it's $30.

Rock Kayak Co. (845 Embarcadero, 805-772-2906) offers bay tours for $50 per person, with a minimum of four people. Rent their kayaks for one hour ($10 single, $20 double), two hours ($15 single, $25 double) or four hours ($20 single, $30 double). They include spray gear and dry bags in their tours and rentals. The outfit also does kayak tours of Lake San Antonio in southern Monterey County, Santa Margarita Lake, ocean trips just north of Cayucos and ocean fishing trips along the North Coast.

Sub Sea Tours (699 Embarcadero Blvd. #9, 805-772-WIND) rents kayaks and canoes including paddles and life jackets. Single kayak $15 first hour, $5 each additional hour. Double kayak $25 first hour, $10 additional hour. Standard canoe (2 people) $25 first hour, $10 each additional hour. "Zip code" canoes (3-5 people) $30 first hour, $15 additional hour. Party canoe (6-12 people) $75 first hour, $25 additional hour.

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