Kayaking can be a terrific way to enjoy the Bay, while also sneaking in an excellent low-impact workout and keeping our kids active. Here’s a list of East Bay places to rent kayaks, take classes, or book kayak tours along with what to plan and expect with kids in tow.
East Bay Kayaking with Kids
Stacked Adventures (Alameda)
For beginners without gear, these kayaking tours focus on safety, fun, and local attractions. Locations and themes of trips vary throughout the Bay Area. Private tours can also be arranged by appointment. Stacked Adventures offers an extensive range of guided tours, including shoreline bird migration tours and an Alameda Point tour kayaking by the historical USS Hornet (imagine being next to that ship on a kayak!). The most basic intro level class covers equipment, paddle techniques, trip planning, on land transporting and maintenance and safety. All gear provided.
Ages: As young as 5 with an adult or 12+
Pricing: $65-$110 per person
Duration: Minimum 3 hours
California Canoe & Kayak Oakland (Jack London)
Full service paddlesports company locally owned and operated. Kayak, canoe, and SUP sales, rentals, instruction, tours, and service. Tours and rentals should be booked online in advance.
Ages: Minimum age in a double kayak with an adult is 5 years old
Pricing: $37.50 per 1.5 hrs
Duration: Minimum 1.5 hours
Lake Chabot Marina and Cafe Regional Park (Castro Valley)
Kayak tours are currently available for those who are in the same household, with a maximum of 4 people. This area is very busy on the weekends, so I recommend planning for a weekday morning with less crowds. Guests must be 18 to operate a boat and all guests must sign a contract prior to getting on a boat. Under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian present to sign for them. [Lots more to do at Lake Chabot]
Ages: Minimum age in a double kayak with an adult is 5 years old.
Pricing: $27 per hour up to $55 per day
Duration: Minimum 1 hour
UC Aquatic Center (Berkeley Marina)
This marina has equipment that can be rented by those who have completed a Cal Adventures course and/or have shown on-water proficiency. It is easily accessible via public transport and the UC Aquatic Center has a free parking lot with ample parking. Call ahead for tide conditions, as this can impact hours of operation (510-642-770).
Ages: Rentals are available to anyone that has passed the skills test
Pricing: $15-$25 per hour
More Bay Area Kayaking with Kids
City Kayak (San Francisco)
Starting 7/6 they are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday for walk-in rental and offer a full lineup of tours, including a full moon kayak trip. They also offer group trips (6 to 12 people) can be scheduled anytime mid-week. Larger groups will be spaced out in groups of 12 or less. It has been windy after 2pm, so plan on a morning trip.
Ages: No age restrictions. They provide life jackets for infants on up. They even have x-small to x-large pet life jackets available – ruff!
Pricing: $35 per hour | $62-$90 per person
Duration: Minimum 3 hours
Blue Waters Kayaking (Point Reyes)
Blue Waters offers take-away rentals (single and double kayak), classes, and very awesome tours. Get out of the city and enjoy kayaking in the gorgeous Tomales Bay. The bioluminescent kayak trip after dark is a life bucket list experience.
Pricing: Hourly: $65 for 4 hours up to $180 for 2 days | Tours: $85+/per person
Duration: Minimum 3 hours
East Bay Kayak Services currently closed
With the Covid-19 restrictions, some of our favorite East Bay kayak spots are closed for now. They may be back on the water soon.
Lake Merritt Boating (Oakland) – currently closed
Kayak rentals are offered at Lake Merritt and the Oakland Estuary. For pedal boat, canoe, rowboat, and kayak rentals, no certification is required. You can also launch your own boat during boat rental hours. The fee is $5 ($6 for non-residents) and you are required to WEAR a US Coast Guard approved life jacket- yours or a rental.
Pricing: $15-$25/per hour | Boat rentals require a CASH ONLY deposit of $20-$30 per group plus the first hour’s cash rental fee.
Plan and dress for the day:
- Coast Guard regulations require that all kayaks have a lifejacket on board. Make sure the life jackets provided by the operator fit properly.
- Wear sun-protected, quick dry layers, that allow you to move freely. Avoid all cotton and flip flops. (If in doubt of what to wear, ask when you book your tour, as water and weather conditions will be different depending when/where you’re paddling.)
- Hat with a wide brim and sunglasses with a strap.
- Zip-lock bag for electronics.
- It is required that children and adults have survival swimming skills. There is always a possibility you, or your children end up in the water.
- Cash to tip your tour guide.
- Leave dry clothes in a storage locker or car in case you take a swim… accidentally.
Other considerations before you book a kayak tour:
- Some providers can provide waivers online to reduce surface contact, and maintain social distancing.
- If you are renting without a tour, beware of off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to shore. Most tours and classes are in the morning for this very reason.
- Everyone must wear a mask.
- When alone on the water you may remove face covering. But, you must put it back on before returning to the dock.
- If someone in your family has motion sickness, bring ginger candy or a Dramamine dose just in case.