The family from the frigid East is coming for Easter, and they want San Diego water fun, no matter how cold the Pacific may be. Kellys don’t surf, but maybe kayaking…
“We’re the real deal, as far as kayaking goes,” said Jake Stachovak at Aqua Adventures Kayak Center in Mission Bay (aqua-adventures.com; 619-523-9577). “The owner, Jennifer Kleck, is one of the country’s top-rated kayak instructors. I just finished a 5700-mile kayak trip…a few years ago, I attempted to paddle 100 kayaks in 100 days. I was trying to raise awareness of how many different kayaks we have — sit-on-tops to sit-ins to stand-up paddle boards to plain old canoes.”
In general, Aqua Adventures’ kayaks fall into two categories: sit-on-top and sit inside. “Most sit-on-top kayaks are designed to be wide and stable, which makes them easy to use and great for beginners. You can climb on and off them easily, and if you tip over, it’s easy to climb back on. But, due to their width, they lose efficiency — there is just more boat to push around. A sit-inside kayak tends to be narrower and sleeker, so it is faster and more maneuverable. You have a better body connection to the boat and more control. Ultimately, you’re more seaworthy.” The hitch is that it requires a little additional training.
Aqua Adventures offers a whopping 19 instructional classes, running from basic introduction to classes on advanced techniques and navigational skills. “The Learn 2 Kayak Day [$35 for 7 hours; includes gear and kayak] teaches you the parts of the kayak and the gear. You also learn the basic strokes from your instructor, and because he or she is with you for the first part of the instruction, you’re free to try any of the kayaks in the demo fleet. With Kayak Basics [$60 for 3 hours], you get the basic strokes, plus capsize training, which is what you need for sit-in rental. It teaches you how to bail out and get yourself back in.”
After that, each class builds on what you’ve learned. “By the time you get to Kayaking 4 [$100, 3.5 hours], you’re learning how to launch or land through surf, how to maneuver through rough water, how to handle getting turned sideways by waves.” All classes from Kayak Basics on include a free rental coupon to use later. Kayak rental prices include all necessary gear, including spray skirts for sit-in kayaks. For singles: one hour, $15; two hours, $22.50; two to four hours, $40; full day, $50. For doubles: one hour, $20; two hours, $40; two-to-four hours, $50; full day, $60. Multiple tours are also available, ranging from Thursday-night social paddles on the bay to multi-day trips out of state (call for pricing).
The following businesses rent sit-on-top kayaks only, complete with paddles and life jackets. Wet suits are available for an additional fee.
Andrew at La Jolla Kayak (lajollakayak.com; 858-459-1114) told me, “A single is $28 for two hours, and a double is $45. We offer 90-minute tours [$45 for a single, $69 for a double] that show the scenery around La Jolla and then go into the cove and through the kelp forest. You may see sea lions or harbor seals, and maybe even dolphins.”
Sharon at Bike and Kayak Tours in La Jolla (sandiegobikeandkayaktours.com; 858-454-1010) offered, “Singles are $23 for two hours, and doubles for $40. We offer two-hour tours [$45 single, $70 double], where we take you into a cave if conditions permit. If conditions are bad, you can get a voucher to enter one of the caves from land. The guide will give you information about the marine life and the geology and history of the area.”
Angela at Hike, Bike, and Kayak Sports in La Jolla (hikebikekayak.com; 858-551-9510) said, “A single runs $28 for two hours, and a double is $45. Besides the sea-cave kayak tour [$50 single, $70 double], we offer a whale-watching tour [$60 single, $110 double]. It’s a three-hour guided tour that launches from La Jolla Shores and heads out past the kelp forest to the whale-migration path.”
Cheap Rentals in Mission Beach (cheap-rentals.com; 858-488-9070) offers rentals for $12 an hour for a single, $35 for a half-day, $40 for a full day. Doubles are $15 per hour, $45 for a half-day, and $60 for a full day. The kayaks are usually launched into the bay but can be put on an appropriately outfitted car and taken elsewhere.