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Kayaking in the Bay Area

Hi everyone! I just completed building a Pygmy Boats Coho kayak, and want to start kayaking in it! Long term I want to complete a multi night tour down the coast, but first I need some good training routes and overnight kayak trips of varying difficulty. I am in Petaluma, so North Bay or Sonoma County is ideal. Any advice on any good trips in the area, beginner to expert, would be great!

Thank you!

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3 Replies

Hello @Mostheimer Thanks for your message and congrats on completing your kayak build. Those wooden boats look so beautiful! I think it’s a great idea to start with some training trips in your normal paddling zone. Practice packing your boat with your overnight and safety gear, and then do some of your familiar paddling routes to get used to how your kayak handles when it is fully weighted. Once you feel confident with paddling, turning, bracing, self (and assisted) rescues with weight in your boat, then you can consider overnight adventures. Since you are in the North Bay, you might want to look into Tomales Bay, where there are several beaches that allow only boat-in overnight camping (permits required) Be mindful of wind, tides, and cold water in this area, and consider paddling with others for safety (with proper social distance in mind). If you prefer to practice on fresh water, there are several camping options at Lake Sonoma (reservations required) that could be a good place to “get your feet wet” so to speak. 😁  Be sure to check local listings for most up to date info on open space closures.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Mostheimer and @REI-HaleyC Hey! Have you kayaked Tomales Bay yet? Hearts Desire beach is a great put-in location and gives you access to fun day trips, and even some overnight trips! Overnight reservations are permitted through the National Park Service - and I think you can book up to 6 months in advance. With most places in the Bay Area, the morning is the best time to get on the water, as afternoon winds can make the paddle back hard. This is a great map of beach access along Tomales Bay so you can chart out your day or overnight trips - Also, have you heard of the Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC)? They're a nonprofit organization that provides kayaking, whitewater rafting, and snow activities for underserved youth and adults with disabilities. They have a 3-weekend volunteer training programing for sea kayaking based out of Sausalito/Angel Island and Tomales Bay where you can gain skills and get practice leading day and overnight trips. Worth checking out for the opportunity and community! Happy Kayaking. 


@jbaxter thanks for the additional tips and links! I agree with you, best to get an early start anywhere on Tomales Bay due to the winds! Also, thanks for sharing the info on ETC. Environmental Traveling Companions is one of our local REI Bay Area's grant partners, and they do great work in our region to serve our community. 

Thanks again!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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