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Adventures by the Sea - Kayaking in Monterey Bay, California
I was a sophomore in high school and my teacher assigned my class a project. We had to give a presentation on any chosen topic. A lot of students in my class were completely excited about the assignment, because they were thinking "hey, I can present my project on whatever I want!"
Call me a nerd, but I wanted to use the assignment to force myself to do something completely new, something that I had always wanted to do, but didn't have the drive to actually go out and do it. *Cue lightbulb* So, I chose to go kayaking!
Turns out, best idea I could have had (ended up "wowing" the class with my presentation by the way)! So, let me tell you a little about my kayaking adventures...
After a little bit of investigative work, I picked a spot. Thats when I found Adventures by the Sea in Monterey, California. It also helped that I lived an hour east of Monterey. My mom and I headed for the coast early one morning, hoping to be out on the water by 9:30 am. Adventures by the Sea is located right across the street from the beach. We parked right out on the street in front of the shop.
Adventures by the Sea: We walked up the steps, and headed for the counter. The people working in the store were super helpful. They said that we could either go on a guided tour of the bay, or we could go out on our own. Mom and I decided that, since it was our first time out, we would opt for the guided tour. I didn't want to have to report to my class that I ended up floating out to sea on accident! I wasn't exactly ready for that kind of an adventure. The next thing we had to decide was whether we wanted single rider or double rider kayaks. We chose the single rider kayaks.
Wet-Suits: They slapped some wet-suits on us, and we headed for the beach. The suits they gave us aren't the stereotypical suits that you think of when you think of a wet-suit. These suits are almost like baggy wind suits. They are super easy to move around in, and you can wear your swimsuit underneath them. The suits are not waterproof because they are designed to heat the water next to your skin so you don't get chilled when your out on the water.
Quick Lessons in Kayaking: The tour guide took our group out on the beach, and gave us a crash course in oar operation, which was a bit trickier that I expected! Once we got into our kayaks, and were pushed out into the water, the oar work became pretty easy. The guide taught us how to stop, turn, and go backwards.
Kayaking: We had picked a perfect day! Blue sky, smooth water, perfection. We followed the shoreline to the left of the beach we started out on. We were able to see starfish along the sea wall, otters, seals, crabs, and the ever present patches of seaweed. When our arms got tired, we anchored in the kelp beds for a break. We just grabbed a couple strands of seaweed to stop from drifting away from the rest of the group. We passed the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a ton of restaurants, and the old Cannery Row district of Monterey. There are remnants of the old canning factories that drove industry in that area in the late 19th Cent. So, if you're a John Steinbeck fan, this is prime territory.
That first time out, we spent most of the time checking out all the sea life. We found otters rolling around in the kelp beds, cracking crab or clams on their chests. Life just seems better when you're watching a cute little otter have the time of his life rolling around in seaweed!
We also had seals swim right underneath our kayaks, the water had fairly good visibility (if I wasn't floating over a kelp bed).
Overall, it is a very peaceful experience. All the noise of the city is replaced with the sound of the ocean and seagulls, and the occasional seal bark, which is always welcome. I get a big kick out of how they beach themselves up on rocks about half their size to sunbathe. I was glad I brought my camera.
Since that trip, my family and I have gone back at least 4 times. We will typically take the unguided tour now, but if it's your first time out, I strongly recommend a guided tour. Eventually, I hope to own my own kayak one day.
It's a great experience that everybody should try at least once. And if your thinking to yourself, "well, I've gone kayaking on a lake before...." it's not the same. Sea kayaking brings you totally new aspects of the sport.
So, if you are wanting to try something new on your next vacation or visit to Monterey, try kayaking!