What will I see at the Santa Cruz Harbor? ​

Come see where it all started – Kayak Connection has been exploring the waters of the Monterey Bay from the Santa Cruz Harbor for 30 years!

With over a mile of calm, glassy water to explore, the protection of the Santa Cruz Harbor is the ideal place for the novice to get used to the thrill of kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.

For the more adventurous, we offer the perfect gateway to the waters of the Monterey Bay.

From the Harbor you can explore the vibrant kelp beds just a few hundred yards away, home to a multitude of sea life including curious sea otters and friendly harbor seals. Paddle just a bit further and enjoy the frolicking sea lions getting rowdy along the pilings of the Santa Cruz Wharf. While taking in the sights of the Beach Boardwalk, Steamer Lane and Twin Lakes Beach, you might get lucky and see some dolphins or one of Monterey Bay’s humpback whales.

With easy parking and a waterfront location, Kayak Connection is a fantastic place paddle for a quick hour rental and rinse off the cares of the work week, or go for a half-day rental and have an ocean adventure with your loved ones.

When is the best time of year to kayak the Santa Cruz Harbor?

kayaking in santa cruz
Summer is a popular time at the Santa Cruz Harbor because our temperate weather makes for a perfect retreat from inland valley heat.

With the Spring, comes the migration of the gray whales and some of our more exciting kayaking whale watching tours.

Our best weather arrives in the Fall season when the summer marine fog layer lifts and we have calm, sunny, warm days through October.

Winter also brings gorgeous sunsets and fewer crowds.

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

santa cruz kayak paddle boarding

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

Inside the Harbor is protected and always accessible, but there are days when the conditions require paddlers to stay in the Harbor waters and not venture out into open water. Strong afternoon winds (often 10 to 20 knots) can make paddling more challenging. Plan your trip to take advantage of the favorable winds and swell conditions.

Should I go on a tour or rent?

santa cruz kayak tour

All 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 allows 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.

1 Hour Harbor Rental or Half Day Ocean Rental?

We have two options for kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals – a One Hour Harbor Rental option or a Half Day Ocean Rental.

The One Hour Harbor Rental was created for paddlers that want a quick outing on the water and then grab lunch or a beach towel to relax on the always popular Twin Lakes Beach. The One Hour Rental stays within the protected waters of the Santa Cruz Harbor, enjoying over a mile of calm paddling. This rental option is perfect for visitors to the area who want to experience all that Santa Cruz has to offer in a day.

You’ll take in the sights of the iconic Walton Lighthouse and all the gorgeous sailboats at berth while working on your tan. There’s also the occasional sea lion and harbor seal to make for an interesting wildlife encounter. We recommend you bring a swimsuit and sunscreen; all necessary equipment is included.

The Half Day Ocean Rental allows you up to four hours to explore the waters of the Monterey Bay outside the Santa Cruz Harbor. There’s nothing like experiencing marine wildlife from ocean level, whether it’s observing napping sea otters wrapped up in kelp, friendly harbor seals coming up to give you a look, or maybe even dolphins spy-hopping on the surface. You’ll see Santa Cruz from a water different perspective, with views of the Beach Boardwalk, Steamer Lane and Twin Lakes Beach.

A wetsuit (included in the cost of rental) is required if you exit the Harbor. We recommend you bring a swimsuit and sunscreen, all necessary equipment is included.

Ocean rentals are dependent on weather and marine conditions.

Have other questions about the Santa cruz harbor?

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