If you want to try a rigorous sport that’ll work both your upper body and your heart, kayaking is the ticket. This is a sport that will get you in shape and looking heart-stopping-hot in a hurry. The repetitive rowing will tone up your arms, shoulders, back, and chest. You get bonus points for being able to work on your tan at the same time.
Kayaking can be either a social activity or a loner’s sport — whichever you prefer. If you want to take a friend, you may wish to grab a tandem kayak, which is designed for two people to use. If one of you is an experienced kayaker and the other isn’t, this is a good way to go.
Kayaking in Santa Barbara Harbor
If you’re wondering where to go kayaking in Santa Barbara, the Harbor is a great place to start. It isn’t the only possibility, but it’s one of the most easily accessible spots, plus you can rent kayaks right in the harbor.
If you’re an inexperienced kayaker, you could spend all day paddling around inside the harbor, where the breakwater will keep you relatively sheltered.
Of course, waves and swell aren’t the only dangers present. It’s important to be alert to all the activity around you, particularly if you decide to stay inside the Harbor. Santa Barbara Harbor is a busy place, with lots going on and a constant flow of boat traffic entering and exiting. You wouldn’t want to get run over by a fishing boat, a tour boat or, really, any boat at all.
If you’re in good shape and you’re a strong swimmer, leaving the harbor could lead to a fun and enticing adventure. You’re likely to enjoy ocean kayaking along the California coastline.
Kayaking is an excellent way to observe local marine ecology. You may have occasions to encounter sea lions, whales, fish, or shore birds. You’ll probably discover some kelp forests as well.
Local Weather Conditions
Be sure to check the local weather report before you head out to the harbor, particularly if you visit during the fall, winter or spring. If you want to call for info, the phone number is (805) 988-6610. You could also listen to the marine forecast at VHF-FM 162.475 MHz (for info regarding weather station 3.)
You want to pay particular attention to how windy it is; on days when the winds are strong, they’ll often be accompanied by rough seas, which makes for unpleasant kayaking conditions.
If you’re new to kayaking, or even if you aren’t, we recommend getting started in the early morning, for several reasons. For one thing, the prevailing winds in the area are usually calm in the early morning hours, and they tend to pick up in the afternoon and evenings. Another reason: the early morning sunlight is pleasant, and far less harsh than when the sun is higher overhead in the afternoon hours. If you can manage to get out of bed early, it tends to make for a far more enjoyable kayaking adventure overall.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, you’ll want to be safe and take the precaution of wearing a life vest, no matter what the weather forecast looks like.
Even on warm, sunny days, the water in Santa Barbara is usually cold — so be prepared for that in case you do happen to fall in the water. It happens!
On chilly days, you might want to wear a lightweight wool jersey or t-shirt. Wool maintains its warmth when it’s wet, unlike cotton, so it would keep you from getting frozen if you take a spill.
More Info, Plus References and External Links
If you’re interested in any of the following:
- Long-distance kayaking
- Kayaking trips out to the Channel Islands — Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel Islands
- Kayaking in California’s sea caves
Then the National Park Service’s website has some resources you might like to take a look at. You can visit this link to see their kayaking information.
Have fun out there!
- Check out my Santa Barbara travel guide
- Discover Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
- Learn about the history of the Santa Barbara Mission
- Find more things to do in Santa Barbara, California
- Check out more of my travel guides for California, the USA and the world
This page was last updated on 4-22-2019.