The rain clouds are starting to fade and the sunshine and warmer weather are making their debut, so you’re probably looking for local outdoor family activities to consider. We highly recommend kayaking! Kayaking is a low cost, family friendly, outdoor activity for adventure and amazing sightseeing. Not to mention a good workout! The Bay Area offers a number of kayaking options for all ages and level of expertise. Best of all, kayaking is a great family bonding experience, giving each “passenger on board” an opportunity to participate; including paddling, experiencing the different types of wildlife, or deciding direction of course (Aye, aye!). Here are our favorite Bay Area kayaking options:

photo: Erin Feher

San Francisco
City Kayak
This cool kayaking company operates right off of South Beach Harbor and Pier 40, making it super easy to access for city families. They offer rentals and kayaking classes for all levels, as well as guided tours. They let any and all ages ride, and have life jackets for infants, but they recommend kids be at least 11 to paddle out solo. You can even bring the family dog along for the ride!

San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Open through the whole year, check website for times
Cost: Full day for a sit-on-top double kayak is $109, or $68 an hour.
Phone: (888) 966-0953

San Francisco Kayak and Adventures
This outlet offers varied routes and special hours to accommodate their popular sunset and moonlight paddles. You can’t just rent your own and paddle out here—it’s all guided tours, so be sure to check the site and sign up in advance. SF Kayaks is located just south of AT&T Park, so with baseball season gearing up, there could be a chance to hit up the famous McCovey Cove and even try to catch a home run or two. The boats are traditional closed-deck kayaks, which keep the paddlers warm and dry—perfect for San Francisco’s not-so-hot summer days. FYI: Kids must be at least 8 to ride in a double kayak with mom or dad.

Pier 52
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Times Vary, Check website for more info
Cost: Group tours from $100 per person up
Phone: 415-787-2628

photo: Stacked Adventures

East Bay
Stacked Adventures
Stacked Adventures offers a kayak concierge experience. Tell them what you want, and they will deliver and pick up the gear at your desired destination! Amazing. This service even includes trip planning, which allows families to make the most of anything mother nature might throw their way (currents, weather, terrain, etc). Private tours can be set up for groups of 3 or more and designed with the group’s experience and interests in mind. They also offer a variety of kayaking experiences from nature tours, skill-focused workshops, and what they like to call destination specific options: Kayak & Dine, Birder’s Tour, Full-Moon Paddle to name a few. Stacked Adventures offers most tours for all levels of ability and experience, and recommended for ages 12 and up. However, they also offer family tours designed specifically for the little ones (good for ages 4 and up), that are short and tour in calm waters. Families can hop into a double or triple kayak for these tours. Stacked Adventures does not have a store front, and these low overhead savings are passed on to the customers. Not to mention, the locations can be closer to your home or other unique locations since they offer the unique concierge experience.

Serving Alameda and surrounding area
Cost: $30/hour and up

Big Break Regional Shoreline
The East Bay Regional Parks District offers beginning classes for residents and nonresidents. The class begins on dry land, making is easy to get comfy with a boat and an oar before exploring the Delta shoreline. There are tons of chances to try this class, as it’s offered every couple of weeks on a Saturday. Kids 12 and up can strike out on their own, while younger seafarers can hop in with mom or dad.

69 Big Break Rd
Oakley, Ca
Cost: $30 for residents, $34 for non-residents
Online: ebparks/kayking/shadowcliffs

photo: Half Moon Bay Kayaking Company

Sea Trek Ocean Kayaking
Whether you want to chart your own course or take a guided tour, this company has it all. We especially love their family tours through Sausalito, out to Angel Island or around Tomales Bay, and the fact that they even offer triple kayaks, so the more kids the merrier! There is no age requirement, and life vests come in all sizes. Kids as young as 9 can even enroll in their kayaking summer camp!

Schoomaker Point
Sausalito, Ca
Cost: Adults: $25-$40/hour
Hours: Times vary, check website for more info
Phone: 415-332-8494

Blue Waters Kayaking
Head for the beauty of Tomales for a day on the Bay. It’s a journey to get out to where the launches are located, but with over 400 species of birds to find, and friendly folks ready to show everyone the ropes, this could be a fantastic weekend adventure the kiddos won’t stop raving about on Monday. Rentals are available for DIY adventures and they also offer youth camps, guided tours, classes and even overnight camping trips for the whole family.


FYI: Blue Waters also offers tours and classes on the Peninsula.

Marshall Boat Works
Marshall, Ca
Tomales Bay Resort
Inverness, Ca
Hours: Times vary, check website for info
Cost: Rentals start at $85 for double kayaks
Phone: 415-669-2600

photo: 101 Surf Sports

101 Surf Sports
This super duper awesome sports store is also central Marin’s easy access to the bay. The launch is on the canal directly behind the shop, so you can literally rent your gear or sign up for a class and be on the water within the hour. The owners are real pros and ardent lovers of water sports, so the know-how is there for the taking. They offer rentals for the weekend, classes and even frequent rental programs.

115 Third St.
San Rafael, Ca
Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat & Sun: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Cost: Rentals for a double kayak start at $35 for 1 hour
Phone: 415-524-8492

photo: Venture Quest Kayaking

Peninsula/South Bay
Venture Quest Kayaking
See the boardwalk and beaches of Santa Cruz from the water with Venture Quest Kayaks! Kayak rentals and tours are offered right from the Santa Cruz wharf, making it an easy activity for residents and visitors alike. You’ll be able to check out the seals and otters near the Lighthouse Point on a safe and easy paddle thru the Wharf Nature Tour (offered from April – October). They also offer a year round tour at the National Estuarine Reserve in Moss Landing, where you can do some bird watching and see seals in a calm estuary.
Tours are recommended for children five years and up. Although the estuary tours can accommodate younger children since the estuary is often calm.

Venture Quest Kayaking
#2 Santa Cruz Wharf
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: 831-425-8445
Cost: $60 and up

Half Moon Bay Kayaking Company
These sea-worthy folks offer not only rentals but a kid-friendly three-hour jaunt that starts off with a launch among harbor seals and birds. A paddle across the protected harbor will end up at Pillar Point and everyone will get the chance to explore the tidepools before heading back to the starting point. Because of high weekend tides expected this summer, these trips are only available on weekdays for now. Call for the latest schedule. Life jackets for infants and up.

2 Johnson Pier
Half Moon Bay, Ca
Cost: Single: $25/hour, Double: $50/hour
Phone: 650-773-6101

Is kayaking an activity that’s right up your family’s creek? Leave a comment below and share your favorite Bay Area kayaking spot!

—Jennifer Yco