Boating in the Bay Area

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Where to go kayaking with a 5 year old

Sept 2010

Went kayaking for the first time on a recent trip to Vancouver island. Parents and a five year old, and we loved it. So where are good options to rent a kayak and go out in the Bay Area? Or outside of the bay area? Thanks. Bryan in Oakland

I've been on a full-moon paddle with Sea Trek ( out of Sausalito and it was really fun (and I'm a newbie who's terrified of deep water, so that's saying a lot). They do paddles and longer treks all over the Pacific Coast, I think. There's also kayaking at Jack London Square ( and even at Lake Chabot ( - you can rent there or they also do classes - check the most recent 'Regional in Nature' program guide (in local papers or at for details. Once and Future Kayaker

You can rent sit on top kayaks, singles and doubles, at Cal Adventures at Berkeley Marina. Even better, take one of their kayaking classes. Then you can rent the kayaks with sprayskirts. There is also a great full moon paddle where you don't need to have experience. Google CAL Recreational Sports and you will find the link under adult programs. kathryn

Try Sea Trek Kayaking in Sausalito.

Canoeing with a young child

June 2009

We had a great time canoeing on the Russian River last year when our son was 3. Any other good options in Northern California for canoeing and swimming (not rafting)? Somewhere that would rent boats and pick you up and, hopefully, also have camping? Thanks. Bryan

I enjoyed canoeing with my young kids at several lakes in the Lassen National Park area: Butt Lake, Juniper Lake, and Willow Lake (which was my favorite). Expect to drive in on gravel roads and there is camping at the latter two sites (but you have to walk in a bit to the Willow Lake campground, which means not too many people go there).

We also canoeing in Elkhorn Slough, the estuary area near Oakland Airport (off Swan Road?). I think you can rent boats at Lake Mendocino, which also has some nice camping.

Check out Ann Dwyer's Easy Waters of California: A Guide Book for New and Novice Canoeists and Kayakers. ISBN 0-9672880-0-2. kl

Place to go boating with 2-year-old

Oct 2008

hi- we're looking for a place to take our 2-year-old boating in Oakland or Berkeley. any suggestions are appreciated. thank you. Shari

You can try Lake Merritt in Oakland. The water is calm but a bit smelly at times. You can rent a paddleboar or a sail boat. They even have a gondola ride like the ones in Italy. LT

How to go sailing out on the Bay

June 2007

My husband and I would like to go out sailing on the bay, but aren't sure who/what organization to contact. We want to go out for a few hours during the day and maybe have lunch included. Any good recommendations? Thank you!

OCSC Sailing (go to: ) My husband surprised me for Mother's Day w/a catamaran sail around Angel Island - it felt like a vacation :-) We're going again for the 4th - WooHoo! (I'm not supposed to know, but *I'M* the one who does the Quicken in this family... ;-D I can't wait... anon

Delta boating destination for small fishing/ski boat

April 2005

Does anybody have recommendations about where to boat, stay or have fun in the Delta? After years of delayed gratification, my husband finally got a (small) fishing/ski boat and (a year later) a used Suburban to pull it. We're trying to figure out where to go with our three kids besides San Pablo Reservoir (close and fishable), and Lake Tahoe (too far for a one day trip). The 1000 miles of waterway in the Delta sound great, but are a little daunting - where should we start? Any recommendations for family friendly locations? Which yahoo-filled sloughs should we avoid? At this point we mostly fish or tube, though the kids would like to learn how to water ski or wake board someday... Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions! Trying to be a supportive boating wife...

Having grown up in Rio Vista, I can attest to the fact that there is no shortage of places to hang out for a day between Antioch and Sacramento and Stockton -- the Sacramento & San Joaquin Rivers. There is a pretty good website at that has maps and ideas about where to go on the Delta.

A great place to start may be Brannan Island State Park -- it is very family friendly but, like all places on the Delta, will get crowded in the summer. However, it is very easy & quick to get to from the central Bay Area (about 45 minutes to one hour from Pinole). Brannan Island is right outside of Rio Vista (across the river) but its sloughs are a little more protected. Rio Vista has a city dock and county park from which you can launch right out into the Sacramento River but the main river is very daunting and not the best place for a small boat (it is a main shipping lane and the undertows are treacherous). There are also many places off of Highway 4 -- between Stockton and Antioch/Oakley but I'm not as familiar with those places.

I don't think there's anywhere you can really go to in the Delta where you won't find some crazies on any given day but the smaller sloughs that are more dead-ended will be the best for beginners -- rather than the main rivers. There are so many fun things to do all along the Sacramento & San Joquin Rivers that it is difficult to pinpoint the BEST places. The best thing may be to start at the outskirts,Brannan Island and Rio Vista, and work your way up to Sacramento or vice versa. VA