Kids Kayak Adventures in San Diego

Outdoor Family Excursions, Lessons, & Clubs

By Courtney Daly-Pavone May 25, 2018

It's nine o'clock in the morning on Fiesta Island, and there is a flurry of activity on Tecolote Bay.  As the marine layer burns off, children and their parents are burning their muscles, busy kayaking. There's no screen time for this crowd.  They're enjoying nature, working out, and socializing.  Kayaking is an enjoyable recreational and competitive sport. These kayakers are members of San Diego Canoe Kayak Team, SDCKT a non-profit organization focused on developing young athletes in Olympic style sprint Kayaking; Canoeing, Ocean Surfski racing and Stand Up Paddleboard racing, even Kayak Polo.  I spoke to Gerry Barlow Club Administrator of SDCKT, on what students learn when they join their club. Barlow says kids can learn "Perseverance, water safety, the ability to learn different parts of a boat, paddling techniques, racing, and if some are motivated and talented enough a shot at the Olympics!" Gerry Barlow knows a lot about Olympic Kayaking, she runs SDCKT with her husband Chris Barlow a USA Canoe Kayak Olympian who competed in 1992 in the 1000m K4, he continues to race today in surf ski races and Sprint National Championships. However, his true passion is coaching the young athletes on the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team.

Chris Balow encourages students to be champions in real life making the right choices and helping others.  Several of the teenagers I spoke to at SDCKT said that they learned more than kayaking from this unique program.  Character building is what they gained, along with friendships with other kids that have enriched their lives. SDCKT has a joint partnership with Point Loma Nazarene University, and students that participate in kayaking at the University can receive a scholarship to the University.

While San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team is a club that has a membership fee, their partner Aqua Adventures rents kayaks to the public and they also have group tours.  Some of their packages include sunset paddles, power and party boat rentals, and lessons on a variety of craft.

Purchasing your own Kayak might be a wise investment with so many great places to kayak in San Diego.  This Tahiti 2-Person Kayak by Sevylor is inflatable so storage is not a problem, it has handles for easy lifting in and out of the water, and it has a patented Airtight System so it is guaranteed not to leak. It can hold up to 360 pounds.

Where Can You Kayak in San Diego?

According to Cathy Bohlman Team Manager for SDCKT, "Pretty much anywhere in Mission Bay.  Easy launch spots are on Fiesta Island and by the Bahia Hotel or across the street from it at Bonita Cove.  In San- Diego Bay there are some public launches at Glorietta Bay, and on Silver Strand. If you launch at the south end of the Silver Strand you can explore the marshy areas and turtles. Some of the lakes around the county also have some very nice habitats and you can launch kayaks:  Otay Lakes, Lake Murray, and Lake Hodges are a few." Another option is Tecolote Bay which has protected waters from powerboats, and with the beach access, it is ideal for young children.

Don't Forget Your Life Jacket

When kayaking you should always wear a lifejacket.  This Puddle Jumper 2-in-1 Life Jacket with Rash Guard has UPF 50+ Sun Protection and has fasteners in the back so kids can't remove their life jacket once it's on. It's made from woven polyester fabric that is flexible so kids can swim freely while wearing it.

I have always enjoyed kayaking from my time in summer camp as a kid, to present day when I go out with my family on Mission Bay.  There is nothing more relaxing as you cruise along taking in nature, you might see a pod of pelicans overhead, fishing boats, and the occasional seal.  It's a great way to unplug, and bond with your family.

San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team

Youth Aquatic Center

1750 Fiesta Island Road

San Diego, CA 92109




Aqua Adventures

1548 Quivira Way, San Diego, CA 92109

Tel. (619) 523-9577