This 12-mile round-trip is a good challenge for budding coastal paddlers looking to stretch themselves, with a little of everything thrown in. It has a tricky harbor entrance, a rounding of a major point including a 3-mile stretch with no landing sites, numerous shallow reefs that break well offshore, and a decent possibility that you’ll be paddling into headwinds (or fog banks) on the return to the harbor. In good weather, the route is straightforward.
It’s complicated, however, by the distance and amount of exposure, which leave plenty of room for conditions to change for the worse. If the fog rolls in, for example, or the northwest afternoon winds come up early, return to the harbor can get suddenly difficult. But what make these risks reasonable are the good bailout options around Capitola if things turn nasty. The rewards are great, as well, with common sightings of otters, seals, sea lions, and seabirds, and a historically interesting turn-around point at the Cement Ship.
© 2013 Roger Schumann /Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.