Elkhorn Slough

Spring is in the air – and in the water! One of my favorite springtime activities is to go kayaking at Elkhorn Slough; this year rather than being stuck with clunky rental kayaks and gear, I was able to take my new Oru Bay Kayak out on her maiden voyage.


My graduation present: Oru Bay Kayak

Elkhorn Slough is a stunning estuary located in the town of Moss Landing and is home to a rich area of wildlife including otters, sea lions and elephant seals. To get here, you want to park at the North Harbor off Highway 1 (near Kayak Connection, where you can rent kayaks if you don’t own). Parking for the day and kayak launch combined will cost you $11 and you’ll need to bring exact change in cash for the self-pay station.


Sea lions. Photo Credit: Lisette

Once you launch you head out the harbor and make a left into the estuary. From here it’s an easy paddle to explore for up to six miles with beautiful views and LOTS of wildlife. April is otter pupping season, so if you’re lucky you may get to see some juveniles snuggled up with their mothers. Please be sure to keep a safe distance away to avoid over-stressing these extremely adorable critters, same goes for seals and other animals. I saw one man row up to and splash an otter with his oar – PLEASE DON’T DO THIS, it has a bigger impact than you may imagine.


Otterly adorable. Photo credit: Lisette

Overall, Elkhorn Slough a wonderful way to spend a day, morning, or afternoon. Just one of the many, many amazing places we have to visit in our backyard here in the Bay Area. Lucky us!


View from the kayak. Photo credit: Lisette

Trip Tips:

  • Summer can be foggy and winter can be cold, so your best time to visit is during April/May and in the fall if you want ideal weather conditions.
  • Be sure to be mindful of tides when paddling to avoid fighting currents on your return, take a peek at tides before scheduling your trip for optimum paddles times/conditions.
  • Helpful information for kayaking at Elkhorn Slough can be found here: http://www.elkhornslough.org/recreation/kayaking/

Gear Notes:

  • My Oru Bay St. Kayak generated a lot of attention, not only does it fold into a (very portable) box, but it’s ultra-lightweight. Several women were shocked that I was able to carry it around with one arm to and from the water. It’s also very agile in the water and easy to maneuver/control. I also used the Oru paddle, which breaks into four nice pieces and tucks into the collapsed kayak.
  • My NRS boater’s gloves worked wonderfully for getting a good grip on the oar.
  • I used a Seals Splash Deck Spray Skirt for this outing. The nice part of this skirt is that it’s only a partial skirt, so it helps keeps your legs dry without being too warm or cumbersome (ideal for flatwater conditions). My only issue with the skirt is that it got weighted with water and lost shape, collapsing somewhat. I’ll be returning this to try other similar models that hopefully hold their shape better.
  • Life jacket – Always recommended, but since the conditions were ideal, I ended up tucking mine into the kayak after I got passed open water. I use an Astral Layla – and love the front pocket for my waterproof camera.
  • Speaking of waterproof cameras, my Olympus Tough TG-5 is perfect for water excursions and extreme hiking trips when I don’t want to risk damaging my DSLR rig. I broke it in on my Kalalau trek in January and love using it for watersports now.
  • I also wore a Roxy rashguard to keep from getting too sunburnt  – this worked wonderfully to keep from roasting my shoulders.


Moss Landing Harbor. Photo credit: Lisette

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