I love kayaking from the Capitola Wharf. Especially in the still, early-morning hours of late summer, when you need a warm sweatshirt under your PFD but are rewarded for the hour and the chill by catching a glimpse of dolphins or sea lions feeding. The kelp forest between Capitola and New Brighton is teeming with life, and if you are still and watchful you may see kelp crabs creeping around in the liminal zone between the surface of the water and the surface of a floating bull kelp frond. There are usually sea otters wrapped up in the long strands of the kelp as well. They’re super cute but make sure you give them a wide berth and watch them with your binoculars. They have very sharp teeth and you don’t want them trying to climb on your boat.
You don’t even have to haul your own equipment. Capitola Boat and Bait out on the Capitola Wharf rents kayaks along with paddleboards, skiffs, and fishing gear. They’ve got maps and lots of information about conditions and what people have been seeing.
Here’s a video I put together several years ago from one of those perfect mornings when all sorts of different sea life was out feeding. I saw one of those kelp crabs, my first time to see one out on the bay. There were pelicans, dolphins, sea lions, otters, and a who lot of zen.