Marin Blog · The Best in Marin Collection

Marin's Best Kayaking Spots and What to Look For

Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, May 25, 2020 by MCVB Staff

By Megan Eileen McDonough


When in Marin County, do as the locals do and dip your toes in a little adventure. Challenging yet surprisingly easy to get the hang of, kayaking is slow-paced enough for observation, admiring the abundance of wildlife and savoring the views. While there are plenty of ways to explore the great outdoors—surfing, kiteboarding, hiking, you name it—we've rounded up five of our favorite landscapes to tour by kayak.


1. Tomales Bay

Tomales Bay is as scenic as it is serene, which is probably why Blue Waters Kayaking offers morning paddle tours. The gentle, naturalist-led tour is ideal for first-time kayakers but is suitable for more advanced paddlers, too. Tours are held every weekend at two locations: Inverness and Marshall. During this quiet paddle, get ready to see all sorts of wildlife—from osprey and harbor seals to pelicans and bat rays. 


2. Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park is a dream destination for history buffs as much as it is for wildlife lovers. As the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, the views are pretty unbeatable. In addition to on-site kayak rentals, travelers have their pick of hiking trails and other recreational activities. If you're a fan of flora, you'll have a field day here. You'll see an abundance of species, including elderberry, wildflowers, bay manzanita and chamise. In terms of fauna, the wildlife is just as diverse: deer, raccoons, seals and sea lions are a few of the creatures you might spot. For birds, it's a whole other ballgame: flickers, owls and blue herons are a few of many.


3. Corte Madera Marsh Ecological Reserve

For a mellow kayak experience with plenty of great views, spend a few hours touring through the Corte Madera Marsh Ecological Reserve. Located in Larkspur and spanning 620 acres, the northern salt marsh is home to a slew of plant and animal species. Starting with the vegetation, you might spot cordgrass, saltgrass, pickleweed, gum-plant, dock and marsh rosemary, among others. Bird lovers, stay on the lookout for the great blue heron, the willett, the marbled godwit and the egret. Take in the views of Mount Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay while you paddle leisurely through the wetlands.


4. White Gulch

Named for its stunning cliffs of Laird sandstone, White Gulch has quite a history. In fact, the Miwok Indians once called this place home before it later became a thriving fishing village. It's also one of the best places to spot Tule elk. Up until the mid-1800s, when hunting became an issue, the Tule elk roamed the area freely. While their numbers are fewer now, they are protected as part of the Tomales Point Tule Elk Preserve. The wildlife doesn't end there; keep an eye out for egrets and heron in the trees and harbor seals, waterfowl and river otters in the water. 


5. Drakes Estero

On any given day, one might paddle in Drakes Estero past eelgrass and oyster beds or spot bat rays, leopard sharks and harbor seals by the coastline. On the hillsides surrounding the waterway are coyote, bobcats, mountain lions and more. Overhead, you might see white pelicans and red-tailed hawks. Point Reyes Outdoors runs Drakes Estero tours on weekends from July to February. Their four-hour tour stretches five miles, while their six-hour tour spans 10. Regardless of which tour you choose, there's a snack break where you can stretch your legs and wander through the dunes.


For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page.

Additional information on featured attractions:

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China Camp State Park

China Camp State Park is located on the southwest shore of San Pablo Bay, three miles northeast of downtown San Rafael. The park protects roughly 1,500 acres of...[Learn More]

Tags: kayaking