Why should I visit the Elkhorn Slough?

The Elkhorn Slough is one of the top 10 wildlife viewing destinations in the nation.  With over six miles of navigable waterway inland from the Monterey Bay, the Elkhorn slough is the largest tidal salt marsh in California outside of the San Francisco Bay.

No other tidal estuary of its beauty and magnitude exists along the coastline today, making it a must see if you are visiting the Central Coast.

Because the Slough’s habitat is so rare, it is a hotspot for migratory birds, marine mammals and fish and a happy haven for the endangered California Southern Sea Otter. Hundreds of sea otters gather daily to rest, groom, hunt for clams and rear their pups in the Elkhorn Slough’s predator protected waters. The Elkhorn Slough is a kayaker’s paradise with calm waters, limited large vessel traffic and wildlife encounters around every bend.

When is the best time of year to kayak the Elkhorn Slough?​

paddle photo tourThe Elkhorn Slough is full of wildlife all year round. If you love babies – both seal and otter pups are abundant in the Spring season. Spring also boasts green hillsides and vibrant wildflowers for a great picture backdrop on your kayaking adventure. Summer is a popular time in the Slough because our temperate weather makes for a perfect retreat from inland valley heat. 

Our best weather arrives in the Fall season when the summer marine fog layer lifts and we have calm, sunny, warm days through October.  Birdwatching becomes more exciting in the Fall/Winter months.  Winter also brings gorgeous sunsets and fewer crowds.

Should I take a tour or rent?​

triple kayak rental elkhorn sloughAll Kayak Connection guides are talented naturalists with tons of knowledge about the local environment, in addition to being skilled kayakers with rescue training.

A guide will be able to point out animals and interesting features that you very likely would have paddled right by without noticing during a rental excursion. They can also help make your trip more memorable by adding a bit of personality and fun and lending a local’s advice towards the rest of your journey.

Renting a kayak gives you the freedom to choose your own pace and explore to your heart’s desire, and can be a terrific way to get in a workout or completely relax – it’s all up to you.

What are the current conditions and how should I prepare for my trip?

Every employee working at Kayak Connection will know the current conditions to help you plan your adventure. Please ask them about how both the tide and the wind will influence your paddling on that day. 

The Elkhorn Slough can look very different given the changing tidal conditions. The main channel is always accessible, but there are fun tidal creeks that need at least two feet of water for a kayak to paddle through them. 

Strong afternoon winds (often 10 to 20 knots), especially in the Spring can make paddling more difficult. Plan your trip to take advantage of the favorable winds and currents.

How can I protect the Elkhorn Slough and the wildlife I see?

Do not approach wildlife too closely. If an animal changes its behavior or appears startled by your presence, you are too close to that animal and should paddle away. Remember, sea otters especially, need to spend a good amount of their time resting and not being disturbed by kayakers for their health and wellbeing.

Maintain a safe, respectful distance while paddling in the Elkhorn Slough. Please do not land on mud banks or disturb resting seals or sea lions. If you bring water bottles or snacks on your kayak, please pack your trash out and dispose of it in the Kayak Connection yard area.

What type of kayak should I rent?

Kayak Connection mostly rents closed-decked kayaks in the Elkhorn Slough. This novelty allows our customers to experience a unique sea kayaking adventure that they won’t find at our competitor’s locations. The advantages of closed-decked kayaks are that they are more maneuverable, and they keep customers warmer and dryer than a standard sit-on-top kayak. (Click here to view kayak rental options).

Our closed-deck double kayaks are extremely stable, with plenty of room to store snacks, water and extra equipment that you may wish to bring with you on your paddle. Our double kayaks are all equipped with rudders to help for easier maneuvering in windy conditions. Try both options and see which fits your style of paddling adventure.

Have other questions about the Elkhorn Slough?

Just give us a call or send us a message to reach one of our friendly staff and we’ll be happy to help.

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