When it comes to visiting California, there is no shortage of things to do. Are you thinking about hitting up one of 9 national parks such as Yosemite, Sequoia, or Joshua Tree? There’s a huge variation of things to see and do. Perhaps you’re more of a city dweller – if so, you have three of the world’s most iconic on your doorstep – LA, San Francisco and San Diego. Want to get off the beaten track? Then perhaps a road trip is in order.
One thing that you can’t miss off your California is a trip to the beach. However, rather than just sunbathing or paddling, why not try some water sports on your trip to the Golden State? With that in mind, let me help you out. Let’s look at six of the best water sports on offer on California’s awesome and sun-kissed beaches.
5 Water Sports in California
Are there two things that go together better than surfing and California? Perhaps cookies and cream…. Or Ben and Jerry. Ever since the Beach Boys sang about surfing in California in 1963, people have been flocking to the golden state to have a go at boarding here. And probably before that too! And it’s no wonder, with world class surf spots like Huntington Beach in LA, Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, and Surfrider Beach in Malibu, there are plenty of places to catch a wave.
Surfing is so popular in California, that it was even listed as the state’s official sport. And if you’re travelling to Cali in September, get ready to celebrate because the 20th of the month is California Surfing Day. Don’t worry if you’re not here then though, as it’s possible to surf in California throughout the year. The best time is in fall and winter, especially in Central California. This is when swells from the northeast are at their strongest.
Stand up Paddle Boarding
It looks like surfing, but it’s not quite the same thing. If you’re looking to switch between the thrills of surfing but a more relaxed water sport when you’re not feeling like being thrown around in the waves, stand up paddle boarding may be the perfect thing for you. At the moment, it’s the fastest growing board sport in the world, and it’s really not hard to see why.
Providing an excellent workout for the body’s core, you’ll be using muscles that have remained dormant for years and improving your flexibility and balance. All of that while being surrounded by beautiful nature and enjoying the therapeutic effects of water.
If you’re SUPing, be sure to take your snorkel with you. Especially if you’re visiting somewhere like La Jolla Shores in San Diego. Though you can see down into the clear water, there’s nothing like getting up close and personal with the brightly coloured fish that call the area home.
For beginners, it’s best to try Gili iSUPs out on flatwater before you attempt anything like SUP surfing or SUP yoga. As well as California’s beaches, why not look to freshwater lakes and rivers, such as Lake Tahoe on the Nevada border?
While on the subject of sports that give you a full-body workout while allowing you to appreciate the natural beauty around you, it’d be a shame to miss off sea kayaking. You’ll be right on the surface of the ocean, with the ability to reach out and touch the fish that come right up to the surface.
Only Alaska and Florida have a longer coastline than California, so there are plenty of spots where you can enjoy this sport. As well as the caves around La Jolla Cove in San Diego (which is great for just about every watersport), check out Tomales Bay, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and Morro Bay. All of these areas have incredible beaches, rock formations, and awesome opportunities for wildlife watching.
One of the worst things about water sports, if they’re not right in your backyard (or beach), is the equipment. First of all, there’s the expense of buying everything, then there’s actually getting it to the beach. Thankfully, not all water sports have this burden – all you need is a pair of swimming shorts, maybe some goggles, and you’re good to go!
Swimming is a fun activity for all the family and there are several beaches along the extensive California coast where you can do so. It’s also a low impact activity so it’s great for recovering from injuries!
Beaches that have a lot of surfers and SUPers can often be good places to swim, as there are lots of lifeguards and people around in the unlikely event you get into difficulty.
Swim in front of the stunning backdrop of the iconic Santa Monica Pier in LA, immerse yourself in the tranquil waters of Coronado Island in San Diego, or challenge yourself with the colder waters of Zuma Beach in Malibu.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
When you think of water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving may not factor too high on your list. However, consider it like swimming with the extra difficulty of regulating your breathing, and you’ll quickly see that both of these fun ways to see marine life are actually quite challenging.
With PADI dive shops in most places along the coast, this could be the place that you get your accreditation and tackle some of the most impressive diving in the world. Explore the shipwreck and kelp forest of Naples Reef in the Santa Barbara Channel, swim in underwater caves at Point Lobos National Reserve, and spot tropical fish in the enormous WWII shipwreck off Santa Cruz Island. You might even see dolphins or whales if you get lucky!