Kayaking Elkhorn Slough

Published by Jenn Laredo on

Last summer, while we were camping at Lemolo Lake, the boys and I rented a pedal boat for a two hour adventure. The pedaling went much better than I expected, and when I was looking at our photos a month or so later, Noah saw himself in the pedal boat and said “That was pretty much the funnest thing we’ve ever done.” So when we were trying to plan a fun trip for his birthday, the thought of kayaking in waters close to home seemed perfect. We booked a two hour Family Adventure Tour with Kayak Connections in Elkhorn Slough, talked our good friend Ashlee and Isaiah into joining us, and I think it may have passed the pedal boats for the title of “Funnest Thing We’ve Ever Done.”

Our tour was at 10 AM, so we had to leave home pretty early. The Elkhorn Slough Kayak Connections tours start in Moss Landing, which is located half way between Santa Cruz and Monterey. The slough is a tidal salt marsh that comes seven miles inland from the Monterey Bay. It’s a biologically rich estuary that’s home to migratory birds, marine mammals and fish. We were up for any kind of wildlife, but at the top of our list : Sea Otters.

They boys had never been in a kayak before, and aside from a trip on our honeymoon sixteen (!) years ago, Nathan and I were new to kayaking as well. Elkhorn Slough was a great first kayak spot, with calm waters and lots to see. Taking a tour was also an excellent choice, though renting kayaks from Kayak Connection and do your own thing is also an option. Our tour guide Tom was outstanding, full of information about all the things we were paddling past, great at keeping everyone’s morale high, and generally highly engaging. It was a perfect first family kayak trip.

We ended up seeing plenty of cool creatures. Harbor seals swam right by our kayaks, a raft of sea otters hung out near the shore as we glided by. We heard sea lions barking on the docks and startled a blue heron into flight. Tom found a sea star, a nudibranch, eel grass and a cormorant. We learned about keystone species, the canyon at the bottom of Monterey Bay, and well, how to paddle kayaks.

We are looking forward to our next kayak adventure. Possilby a Starlight Bioluminescence Tour in Elkhorn Slough? Maybe a paddle in one of the lakes at Tetons National park or Glacier National Park? Or…Kayak Connections says you can take your pet for a paddle at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor….do you think Cloud and Solar would be good kayak cats?

Music from this video, all from Epidemic Sound:

  • Talking Trees by Max Kershaw
  • Leveling Up by Wendel Scherer
  • Cooper’s Island by Marvin Klem
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