The calm, sheltered waters of Marina Del Rey offer the perfect place to develop your paddle board skills and get the whole family out on the water. The man made beach in the marina offers a nice picnic place if not all of the family are keen to get wet and it means there are no waves hitting the shore making entry and exit onto your board easy. The Marina is a hive of activity and you’ll see many like minded people enjoying the sun and tranquil waters on paddle boards, kayaks and boats as you weave your way through the inland waterway. You can spot many sea lions as you paddle through the vast array of expensive yachts and occasionally you will be joined by dolphins, which makes it a firm favourite for those wanting to spot the local wildlife and by those who like to look at the fancy boats! Access the the marina is easy, you can drive right up to the beach and off load your gear. Another bonus of the marina is you're close to town for a post paddle espresso or refuel.
The surf riders beach in Malibu is a sandy beach that is popular among surfers for its long right hand surf break. In fact the Surfrider beach is one of the pioneer places of American surf and the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum resides there. The beach offers decent consistent waves and is usually packed with surfers. If you are just learning to SUP surf this isn’t the place to come, but if you are experienced you’ll really enjoy what the Malibu break has to offer. Malibu farm has a restaurant at the end of the pier that overlooks the break for a post surf feed and the spot is excellent for bird watching.
Weave through the Venice Canals by paddle board and embrace the serene vibes as you feel like you’ve escaped the busy city streets. You’ll have to bring your own board to the canals as there are no rental shops close by but access is easy at Venice Boulevard. The houses that line the canals are quirky and fun and offers shelter to the water making it a great place for an easy paddle. Paddle boarding is probably the best way to see the canals and feel like you're exploring in Italy. Post paddle you're not far away from Salt and Straw for ice cream on Abbot Kinney.
About three miles North of Malibu Pier is Latigo beach. Its best to find parking on the Pacific Coast Highway and walk down the tight staircases onto the beach, avoid Latigo Shore Drive as the locals are good at protecting their neighbourhood and you could end up with an unexpected ticket. The beach offers good swell off the point break at certain times of the year and tends to be less crowded than Surfrider beach. The waves here are gentle and rolling and can offer some nice long surfs, which make it a good place to develop your skills. The point also offers some shelter to the beach and protects it from wind coming up the coast. When there’s no swell take your paddle board out and enjoy the stunning scenic shoreline, marvel at the luxury beachfront houses, catch a glimpse of some wildlife and paddle up to the west end at low tide and check out the tide pools.
Big Bear Lake is a short drive East of Los Angeles nestled in the mountains it is subject to the four seasons throughout the year which makes it a change from the sweltering consistent weather down in the city. There are rentals available at the lake or you can bring your own paddle board, but be aware you will need to purchase a permit before paddling and your board needs to be inspected to ensure it’s not been contaminated in other water systems for a week prior. Big Bear Lake is the perfect location for a weekend getaway with family or friends with heaps of lake to explore and plenty of activities to do off the water as well as on. Pack your fishing rod and reel in a freshwater catch or simply explore the ample mountain shoreline. After you’ve spent a weekend at Big Bear you’ll feel relaxed and reset heading back to the city.
You can access the Abalone Cove Beach besides the parking at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. You can paddle from Abalone Cove around Portuguese Point and Inspiration Point to Portuguese Bend where you’ll pass through the gorgeous coves. You’ll have a good view of Santa Catalina Island and the caves at the base of Portuguese Point at low tide. The water at Abalone is beautiful and clear and there are tide pools to explore around the points too. Paddle boarding is the best way to see the coast, you won’t have to deal with the riff riff of the holiday makers on the trails. After your session you can explore the Abalone Cove Reserve.
Pyramid lake is a reservoir located in Santa Clarita and is named after the pyramid shaped rock that was carved out by engineers building the reservoir. It is a large lake situated between towering mountains with plenty coastline to explore. The lake itself is usually fairly quiet and its known for its good fishing and picnic spots, include 5 picnic areas only accessible by boat or paddleboard! You can easily spend a day here getting lost in the different forks of the lake.
Newport Bay has been formed by ocean currents pushing sand towards the land and the Santa Ana River pushing the sand back out. It results in a unique offshore beach and estuary. The Harbour is jam packed with expensive boats and yachts and offered a sheltered place to paddle board. You can circumnavigate Lido and Balboa Island in the marina or paddle up the estuary to Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area where you can spot some of the 200 endangered bird species that make their home in the wetlands. Newport Bay offers a diverse amount of paddling and there is something for everyone here. After paddling there are a variety of local restaurants offering some of the best seafood in the area.
Dana Point is located along the Orange County coast and has easy access via state highway route 1. Dana Point is known as the whale watching capital of the west so keep your eyes peeled here for sighting. Head out towards sunset to watch the sun disappear behind the iconic southern Californian cliffs. There is a relaxed SoCal spirit about the place and Strands beach attracts surfers looking to improve their skills on the perfectly formed rolling waves. Head to the harbour for a spot of paddle board yoga or explore the coastline and the Dana Point caves. Californias first surf shop was opened at Dana point in 1954 and the famous surf film ‘The Endless Summer’ was produced there.
The Channel Islands of California consist of five islands: Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel. You can take a boat over to the islands or its a half hour flight. Once there you will be greeted by untouched national park. The best way to explore the islands is by paddle board or kayak. Why not make it an adventure and pack some overnight gear and camp out at the designated camp spots around the coast, there are plenty of hiking trails you can access and caves to explore. It’s worth doing some research before you go to find out where you are allowed to camp. Experienced paddlers may want to paddle between the islands, to do this you’ll need to be equipped with a VHF marine radio.
Think we missed a location from our top 10? Leave your favourite place to paddle board in the comments.
Jen Chrimes is a marketing and design professional that has worked with the outdoor industry for over 9 years. She is also a professional kayaker and avid outdoor enthusiast who loves sharing her knowledge and passion through her work. You can find more about Jen and her work at jenchrimesdesign.com.
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