Kayaking is a sport for extreme, moderate and mild outdoor enthusiasts alike. While white water (river) and open sea kayaking are ideal for an adrenaline surge, less venturesome kayakers will appreciate the calmness of a bay or a quieter day along the coastline. Whichever you prefer, Newport Beach offers the best of both worlds: Explore an estuary teeming with bird- and wildlife, or enjoy breathtaking views of the local beaches and sea creatures beneath. Here, seasoned kayaker Kelly Thompson of Newport Aquatic Center shares her passion for the sport as well as a few on-the-water tips to stay safe and get the most of your kayaking trip.
What are some of the best places for novice kayakers in Newport Beach to enjoy a mellow excursion, become familiar with the activity, and see wildlife?
Right in front of Newport Aquatic Center — there is rarely any motorboat traffic and it’s an excellent spot to bird watch in the Back Bay.
Where can experienced kayakers discover a more intense adventure?
Anywhere you go in the Back Bay or in the harbor you will have a chance to see birds, fish and sea lions. Our boats are not allowed outside the harbor, however it’s always fun to take a personal outrigger or kayak out to the bell buoy.
What do you enjoy most about kayaking?
Just being on the water and getting a workout.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve witnessed while kayaking in Newport Beach?
I’ve had the chance to see dolphins up close in the harbor — which isn’t necessarily a good thing because sometimes they can get lost in the Back Bay. The ocean is a better place to see them.
How do bay and ocean kayaking differ, and what type of kayak is used for each?
In the Back Bay you don’t have to deal with swells and waves, so we use recreational kayaks built for calmer waters. Their size and stability allows novice kayakers to relax, take pictures, and enjoy the scenery. They should not be used in heavy wind or currents.
What are some general rules and tips for ocean kayaking? And bay kayaking?
In the ocean, always have a plan and know where you are going. Make sure someone knows that you went out.
In the bay or harbor, pay attention to where you are going — there are always boats to keep an eye out for!
What are some dangers to be aware of when kayaking off of Newport’s coast?
The currents, winds and tides. …You don’t want to get swept out to sea!