The Pacific Ocean has worked for millions of years to carve out rock reefs, sea stacks, and sea caves that are an awe-inspiring wonderment to many. For kayakers, they can be a paddling playground. Surfing the swells and waves of the ocean over, through, and around these geological features in the ocean is referred to as rock gardening.
The Noyo Bay in Fort Bragg, California features over 30 different play spots for sea and whitewater kayakers. Angie’s Angst, Brindle’s Bash, The Sound Cave, The Keyhole Cave, Nick’s Nightmare, The Gauntlet, Deer Rock, and Chicken Point are just a few favorites. Different features offer beginners the opportunity to give it a try while advanced paddlers can “Go Big” on larger sets or take more technical routes. Many play spots spill over into deep water pools that allow for scouting, spectating, and photography. Water reading is an important skill that takes time and experience in the ocean to develop. It is always helpful to go with an experienced rock gardener who understands the flow and timing of the ocean and can point out buffer zones (like eddies) as well as play features like pour-overs, surge channels, elevator rooms, waves, and sea caves.
Typical Class of Water: Class I through V
Best Seasons for Experiencing
Year round depending upon ocean conditions. Winter storms sometimes produce storm surf that is too dangerous. Surf forecasting websites such as magic seaweed and wet sand can assist with predicting conditions.
Noyo Beach at the end of North Harbor Drive in Fort Bragg, CA.
ADA Accessibility Notes
This is a strenuous activity. Some accommodations can be made.
Pet Friendly Notes
The Noyo Beach is a leash-free dog beach. This type of whitewater kayaking experience is not recommended for most pets.
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