Reserve Your Spot Today for the 2024 Kids Kayak Camp - Limited Availability! Reserve now

Santa Cruz Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals

Come to our Santa Cruz harbor location to experience over a mile of calm protected waters – perfect for beginning kayakers or paddleboarding enthusiasts.

For the more adventurous, head out into the Monterey Bay for open ocean exploration. See the iconic Santa Cruz sights including the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf and experience the surf stoke at Steamer Lane.

Kayak & Paddleboard Rental Information

Santa Cruz Harbor

Your rental includes a life vest, paddle and basic instruction. Our goal is to create comfortable, happy paddlers on the water!

Pricing: 1 Hour Harbor Rental: $35 single or paddleboard / $55 double

2.5 Hour Rental: $55 single or paddleboard / $75 double

Our Santa Cruz Harbor rental is a 1 hour rental, with views of the beautiful yacht harbor, curious harbor seals, the iconic Walton Lighthouse, and Twin Lakes Beach. With our 2.5 Hour Rental, you have more time to relax and enjoy the iconic views without a rush to get back to the dock! If conditions are right, you can leave the Santa Cruz Harbor and paddle into the Monterey Bay. You’ll explore the kelp beds and look for otters, dolphins, whales, sea lions and jellies.

Kayak & Paddleboard Rental Options

1 Hour Harbor Rental

The Santa Cruz Harbor offers protection from wind and waves, creating calm and serene waters waiting to be enjoyed. It’s an ideal environment for first time paddlers and those wanting a more relaxing kayaking experience. Soak up the sun and take in views of the beautiful Santa Cruz yacht harbor, including the Chardonnay, O’Neill Catamaran, and iconic Walton Lighthouse. Catch a glimpse of a harbor seal gliding beneath your kayak, watch shore crabs scour the rocks, or join in on a chorus of sea lions barking.

Single Kayak

single kayak rental santa cruz

Double Kayak

double kayak rental santa cruz

Stand Up Paddleboard

paddleboard rental santa cruz

2.5 Hour Harbor Rental

For those wanting to extend their harbor paddle, our 2.5 hour option gives you that extra time you need to see everything the harbor has to offer. This is the most popular option for large groups! Float in the sun while watching nesting herons and egrets high in the eucalyptus trees. Marvel at rays and fishes hovering just below the surface. Our 2.5 hour option gives you all the time you need to fully immerse yourself in harbor fun and relaxation.

Single Kayak

kayak rentals santa cruz california

Double Kayak

santa cruz double kayak

Stand Up Paddleboard

2.5 Hour Ocean Rental

For our more adventurous paddlers, travel beyond the protection of the Santa Cruz Harbor and enter the exciting world of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. The Bay always reveals something new and exciting to our paddlers, and wildlife can be found everywhere – from Southern Sea Otters resting in the kelp near Steamer lane, to California Sea Lions competing for the perfect spot under the Santa Cruz Wharf. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter whales and dolphins thriving in this highly productive environment.

Due to variable weather on the ocean, our team closely monitors forecasts and current conditions to provide the safest experience possible. Typical wind patterns in our area make mornings the most consistent time to make it out of the Harbor.

**Ocean rentals may be subject to change if ocean conditions are unfavorable.**

Single Kayak

single sit on top kayak santa cruz

Double Kayak

kayak rental santa cruz harbor

Stand Up Paddleboard

santa cruz harbor sup rentals

Dog Paddle The Santa Cruz Harbor

There’s no need to leave your furry best friend at home with our “Dog Paddle” rental option. We welcome well behaved four-legged friends for an extra $10 per dog added to the rental price.

The Santa Cruz Harbor’s flat, tranquil waters make for an excellent dog-friendly kayaking adventure. Your dog should be comfortable around water, capable of staying seated and obeying simple commands, and able to swim (just in case).

If your dog is heavier than 35 pounds, a double kayak is necessary so that your dog has a safe, stable seat. Please bring a towel for your dog to sit comfortably and keep in mind that if any damage occurs to our kayaks there will be an additional charge.

*Please note our Elkhorn Slough location can NOT accommodate dogs due the the sensitivity & abundance of the wildlife at that location*

Single Kayak (1 hour)

dog friendly kayaking
*for dogs under 35lb

Single Kayak (2.5 hr)

dog friendly kayak rentals
*for dogs under 35lb

Double Kayak (1 hour)

dog paddle the harbor
*for dogs over 35lb

Double Kayak (2.5 hr)

dog paddle
*for dogs over 35lb

Kayak Connection Santa Cruz* is now offering Annual Paddling Memberships!

If you are a LOCAL looking for an inexpensive way to paddle, a membership is a great way to kayak or paddle-board without the hassle of purchasing, storing, or transporting equipment.

Our frequent renters receive these amazing benefits:

  • Discounted rental prices
  • Skip the line, the paddle-talk and the paperwork
  • Choose between kayaking or standup paddleboarding
  • Real-time condition reports so you can plan your paddle safely
  • Employees that know you by name 🙂

*Memberships not available in, or transferable to, our Elkhorn Slough location.
ocean rental santa cruz double kayak
kayak membership


When you arrive on the day of your rental, the first thing you’ll do is sign our liability release and pay for your rentals.

Next, our team will help you find the gear you need for your adventure, and we’ll get you fitted for everything and show you how to wear it properly.

One of our staff members will issue a paddle and safety talk and take you down to the dock, where we’ll help you into your kayak or onto your SUP.

In Santa Cruz, you’ll paddle away from the deck and into the harbor, which provides incredible views of the Boardwalk, coastline, wharf, and lighthouse. You’ll also have the opportunity to see otters, seals, sea lions, birds, dolphins, and whales.

Yes – if they’re at least five years old. As a family-friendly operation, we love to encourage kids to get out on the water!

Even though kids as young as five can rent kayaks, boogie boards, or SUPs, some little ones won’t be ready to venture onto the water.

Here are a few questions to consider before you decide to bring your kids out on the harbor with you:

• Is your child comfortable on the water?
• Is your child a strong swimmer who is comfortable going underwater?
• Will the day be too hot, cold, or windy for little kids?
• Are you confident that you can manage yourself, your kayak, and your child if your kayak flips?

Here are our rental requirements:

• Children must be at least five years old to go kayaking
• Children who are 15 or older can paddle a single kayak.
• All participants must sign a release. Kids under 18 must have their waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.
• Children under 18 must be accompanied by at least one adult over the age of 25.

Our sit-on-top kayaks have a weight limit of 250 lbs. Our sit-on-top doubles have a combined weight limit of 500 lbs. The closed-deck kayaks we rent can accommodate a person weighing up to 225 lbs.

We welcome well behaved four-legged friends. If your dog is heavier than 35 pounds, though, we recommend renting a double kayak so that your dog has a stable, safe seat. A $10 fee is added per dog. Please keep in mind that if your dog causes any damage to our kayaks there will be an additional charge.

Personal floatation devices (life vests) are required for the entire duration of your paddle on the water. We have multiple styles and fits to make sure you are comfortable throughout your paddle.

No. We do not allow the consumption of alcohol before or during your kayak rental.

To ensure your safety and comfort on the water, we require that all guests know how to swim before renting kayak gear.

If you’re going to be paddling a closed-deck kayak, avoid wearing jeans, sweatpants, or heavy cotton clothing, which will get heavy and chilly when wet.

Instead, dress in layers of wool, Capilene, fleece, or synthetic clothing. Since weather conditions can change quickly on the water, layering is a great way to keep yourself comfortable and dry all day.

We recommend wearing moisture-wicking, quick-drying athletic shirts and pants, and bringing a wide-brimmed sun hat, sunglasses, and a windbreaker. If you want to wear shoes during your rental, make sure you wear water shoes that are designed to get wet. Going barefoot is also an option.

If you’re bringing your camera, phone, and wallet, secure them in a waterproof case (we’ve got a wide selection for sale in our store). If you’re renting a stand-up paddleboard, bring a bathing suit and change of clothes.

Finally, bring a change of clothes to keep in the car for after your rental. If you get wet while paddling, you’ll be glad you took this step. We supply our guests with a rental personal floatation device (PFD), paddling jacket, spray skirt, and paddle, so you don’t need to bring these things from home.

Bring the following for your kayak trip:

  • A hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water and a snack
  • Camera and binoculars (bring at your own risk of them getting wet!)
  • Footwear such as old sneakers, Tevas, water socks, or booties.

Sit-on-top kayaks are stable, self-bailing kayaks that allow paddlers to sit on top of the kayak deck. If you capsize, the kayak won’t fill up with water, making it easier to flip the kayak upright and climb back on board. 

All kayak rentals at our Santa Cruz location are sit-on-tops.

While anyone can paddle a closed-deck kayak, we generally recommend them for more advanced kayakers. The reason for this is simple: sit-inside kayaks are a little less stable on the water. In the unlikely event that one of these kayaks capsizes, the interior cavity fills with water, making it tough to flip them over and get back inside. Sit-inside kayaks also have rudders, spray skirts and foot pedals, which can feel like a lot of extra equipment for a novice kayaker to manage.

If you’re interested in renting a closed-deck kayak, you should visit our Elkhorn Slough location. 

We require a credit card number to reserve your rental equipment. Cancellations must be made more than 48 hours before your rental date. If you cancel less than 48 hours before your rental date, we will charge your credit card. If we must cancel your trip due to unsafe weather conditions, we’ll issue a full refund.


Just give us a call or send us a message and we’ll be happy to guide you through the different options.

Kayak Connection - Santa Cruz

413 Lake Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Phone: 831-479-1121

Hours of Operation – Spring/Summer
Open Daily 10:00 – 5:30*

(*may close early for inclement weather or if we have all our renters off the water)

Get Directions