“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir
If you ask anyone who has ever visited or lived in San Diego, they would probably include kayaking at the very top of their list of fun things to do here. I’ve heard about it on almost every website and from every local person around: “If you’re in San Diego, you should try kayaking at La Jolla Shores!”, and “See the Seven Caves of La Jolla!” I’ve always been afraid of the ocean, and usually get sea sick on boats, so I’ve never explored kayaking. It’s been on my mind since I’ve moved here over a year ago, and I finally got up the courage to try it out! I was so glad I did! Here are four reasons why you’ll love kayaking in La Jolla:
1. You can go on a tour with no prior experience and highly experienced guides will help you!
What really sparked the final decision for me to say yes to kayaking was an invitation from our country club, The Bridges. (Find out why it’s so spectacular here!) I figured it would be a fun, social get together, and I would finally be able to see the ocean up close and personal! I registered my fiancé, Patrick, and I for the kayaking tour, and waited anxiously. When I registered us, the tour guide told us to get down to La Jolla a little early on our tour date and bring a smile. (He wasn’t kidding on the “be early” part, it takes forever to drive around in La Jolla village looking for a parking spot.) We found the best spot to park on La Jolla Shores Drive, where there was ample free parking spots that didn’t expire in two hours. Most of the parking in the La Jolla Shores village area was taken, or two hours, or pricey.
2. You can go kayaking on extremely short notice! (Even in your T-shirt & shorts!)
On the day of the tour, we headed down to Everyday California, where we checked in and headed to the meeting area, just outside the store. It turned-out that the Bridges tour got cancelled, so Patrick and I were with a bunch of strangers. I brought along our new GoPro to take some amazing videos. I was so excited, but SO nervous! This is the day I would finally face one of my biggest fears! As soon as I got outside, I started putting-on a wet suit. There were so many sizes of wet suits, and I really had no idea how to even wear. Luckily, the staff was incredibly helpful and explained everything confidently. Once I got the wet suit on, along with my life jacket and helmet with the GoPro attached. I walked down to the beach with our twenty person group. As I was walking down the street, I started noticing that no one else in my entire group had put a wet suit on. I felt so silly, I was shaking my head and laughing. (Here is a list of frequently asked questions if you have any before you go!)
3. The instruction takes about five minutes. (You’ll most likely run into other kayaks a few times anyways if you’re new.)
When we arrived on the sand, the instructors showed us how to sit in the kayak and use our paddles. They gave us other useful tips for a few brief minutes, before holding our kayaks in the water for us to get in them. My heart was beating so fast, but I hopped in the front and started paddling out. It was a two person kayak with me and Patrick. They pushed us a little ways over the waves, and water splashed up on me everywhere! It was sort of like an amusement park ride where you slide down crashing into the water. Except, with the ocean surrounding you, and possibly sharks everywhere waiting to eat you alive. (Maybe fear got the best of me?). There was a hammerhead shark sighting by a kayak tour the week before!
4. You get to experience the La Jolla Ecological Reserve!
One we were out in the ocean, we circled up, and the instructors talked about the La Jolla Ecological Reserve. It is a protected area of the ocean where you can see several different wildlife habitats. (Check out this site for more info.) On a normal day you can kayak pretty close to the caves and see the sea lions and other animals, but that day was a bit too choppy to get really close. A woman on our tour got really sea sick as soon as we got out on the open water, and they told her that it was too windy for her to head back to shore alone, so she had to stay out for the whole 120 minute tour. She was sick every few minutes, and even jumped all the way in the ocean to try center her balance and equilibrium a little! We paddled around to five different spots, and I could see little fish swimming around our kayaks. The instructors had us guess the prices of the multi-million dollar homes on the shoreline. It was fun to be able to paddle around in the ocean looking at the scenery and get over my fear. The tour was incredibly informative and after waiting so long to register for a tour, once I was out on the water, I’m not sure why I had waited so long to do it.
After some time, we paddled back to shore, and the woman who got sick pulled off her extra layer, sweating and shaking, and continued to get sick on the beach. No one else got sick, but the instructors said it’s sometimes common to feel sick while out in the ocean kayaking or snorkeling, especially in choppy conditions. We all walked back to the kayak store and collected our belongings from our lockers. I’ll never forget kayaking in La Jolla, and I definitely recommend it to everyone, like all of the other locals do!
P.S. The “woman who got sick” …was me. Suggestions for avoiding this are Dramamine, ginger ale, or ginger beer. I have an extra strong motion sickness prescription patch that I use on airplanes…guess I should have used it to kayak in the ocean!
Have you tried kayaking? Did you go with a group or on your own? Was it harder than you thought? We would love to hear your stories!