- What does Blue Waters Kayaking offer?
- I want to visit Point Reyes for the Day and go kayaking but how do I get started?
- I want to stay overnight in the Point Reyes area and go kayaking but how do I get started?
- Do I need a reservation to go kayaking?
- Should I rent a kayak or join a guided tour?
- I am renting. What do I need to bring with me?
- I am reserving a spot on a guided tour. What do I bring with me?
- How do I choose the best tour for me?
- How long should I plan on renting a kayak and when is the best time?
- Which location should I rent from, Heart’s Desire or Take Away?
- What if I have a group that wants to go kayaking?
- Can I take my dog kayaking?
- Is there a minimum age for kayaking?
- What is there to do and see?
- What is your Cancellation Policy?
- Do you have a discount for schools and non-profits?
- Do you have a large group discount?
- What is the best season to see Bioluminescence?
- We would like motorboat support for overnight trip. Do you still offer that?
- Can I rent a closed deck kayak for myself? And my friends?
- Do you ever offer Groupon or other discounts?
- Are there any other companies that will allow us to rent kayaks in the evening for the Bioluminescence?
- Are there alternate options for people over 6’6″ and/ or 280lbs to join a tour?
- I want my kid (under the age of 13) to be able to experience the bioluminescence, what are our options?
- Are there sharks?
Q: What does Blue Waters Kayaking offer?
A: Multi-sport enjoyment of the Point Reyes area. We have kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and hiking options throughout the Park.
Tours: both public and private, for the day, evening or overnight, with and without food options / Rentals: day or overnight / Sit-on-top or Closed Deck boats / Classes: From Beginning to Advanced
Q: I want to visit Point Reyes for the day and go kayaking but how do I get started?
A: You have come to the right place! Whether you are a first time paddler or an expert at the sport, kayaking on Tomales Bay is a perfect way to get outside to explore beaches and marvel at the nature all around. First, take a look through the rest of the FAQ page and our website to become familiar with our offerings for rentals, guided tours, classes, youth camps, team building, and retail. Then, use our online reservation system to book online or give us a call.
Q: I want to stay overnight in the Point Reyes area and go kayaking but how do I get started?
A: With so much to do it is easy to put together a fun multi-day visit and kayaking should definitely be on your list of things to do! Kayaking is what you make it! Do it for the family experience, for romance, to explore a remote beach and relax, or to work off last night’s dinner. Begin by finding a place to stay. For those who enjoy camping, rent a kayak overnight and camp on one of the remote beaches on Tomales Bay (see our online guide for planning an overnight kayak trip). For those who like lodging based trips, we can help point you toward some of our favorite locations.
Q: Do I need a reservation to go kayaking?
A: The short answer is Yes. You can book online or call the office to make a reservation for a Tour, Class or Rental. We do take walk-in customers at both our Point Reyes (7 Days/ Week) & Heart’s Desire (Sat & Sun) locations for rentals. WE STRONGLY SUGGEST RESERVATIONS TO ENSURE THAT THE WEATHER IS GOOD AND THAT WE WILL BE OPEN. If you don’t want to make a reservation give us a call to check how busy we are getting. We will need a credit card number to hold your reservation and we have a 7-day cancellation policy (See Cancellation Policy below).
Q: Should I rent a kayak or join a guided kayak tour?
A: Guided tours are the best way to learn about Tomales Bay because you will spend time with one of our local naturalist kayak guides. Our tour guides will handle the safety and they love to talk about our area. We offer public tours on Saturday/ Sundays and private tours any day of the week. If you have young children, between the ages of 5 and 12 years, plan to do a private tour or a rental. We provide closed deck double kayaks on the majority of our tours, which will keep you dry and track well in the water.
Our rental program is a great way to get out on the bay and enjoy alone time or have fun with your family and friends. We have 2 options for rentals, Take Away Rentals from Point Reyes Station (Available 7 Days/ Week) & Rentals on the shore of Heart’s Desire Beach (every Saturday & Sunday). Our take away rental option allows you to take the kayak to any of the nearby launching locations on Tomales Bay by loading the kayak on top of your car. NO RACK? NO PROBLEM! We provide all the gear and guidance that you would need to safely and easily load the kayak onto your car. You can also load a kayak on to a set of wheels from our headquarters in Point Reyes Station, and wheel your kayak down to Lagunitas Creek and the Giacomini Wetlands at the southern most section of Tomales Bay.
We have single and double kayaks, and we offer open-deck kayaks for the majority of our rentals or closed deck kayaks for folks who have taken a recovery class with us or another reputable company. We provide a brief introduction to paddling technique and kayak safety before you embark on your adventure. Public beaches are only a short distance from the launch site, so pack a picnic.
Anyone can rent an open-deck boat (with some weight limits): We have stable, safe open-deck boats for beginners and even more advanced paddlers. We require that each person wear a Personal Flotation Device at all times on the water.
To rent a closed deck boat: one person in each boat must have successfully completed a course to learn self-recovery in a closed deck boat. You could have learned that technique somewhere else, you don’t have to have a certificate, you just have to be able to explain to us how you would rescue yourself (and other paddler) if your boat tipped over. We provide a PFD for each person, spray skirt for the boat, paddles, bilge pump, and paddle float for the boat.
Q: I am renting, what do I need to bring with me?
A: Always take plenty of water, sunblock, a snack, dress in layers and bring a change of clothes. There is plenty of room in the kayaks to stow away extra clothes or a picnic. If you are a novice paddler you will be renting one of our single or double open-deck kayaks (also known as a sit-on-top kayak). These are self bailing boats, your feet and rear will get wet. With your rental you will get a personal flotation device, and a paddle. Splash jackets and wetsuit available upon request. If you have a waterproof jacket that you prefer to wear, bring that along with you.
Q: I am reserving a spot on a guided tour, what do I bring?
A: Always take plenty of water, sunblock, a snack and dress in layers. If you have joined one of our all day premiere nature tours (Drakes Estero, Tomales Point Exploration, Paddle and Hike) then please bring a full lunch. We recommend you bring pants and walking shoes. You will be receiving more specific information pertinent to each tour.
Q: How do I choose the best tour for me?
A: All our tours are beginner friendly, but with plenty of scenery and wildlife for seasoned paddlers to also enjoy.
For daytime trips, we have Half Day (4 hour) or Full Day (6 hour) tours available from multiple locations around Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero. We offer public enrollment tours every weekend and holiday, which can be booked from our web calendar, or by giving us a call in the office. Private tours can be set up any day of the week with advanced notice.
Drakes Estero and the Giacomin Wetlands tours are tidally dependent and thus only offered when the tides are high enough to allow navigation through the shallow sections of these waterways. They are a real treat when we are able to offer the Full Day experience.
Similarly, the Full Day Tomales Point Exploration is only offered when the tide is outgoing in the morning and incoming in the afternoon. On this trip we’ll plan to stop at a beach near the mouth of Tomales Bay and hike up to the Tomales Point trail to observe wildlife and sweeping views of Tomales Bay and Pacific Ocean.
Our bioluminescence tours are our most popular trip. These are scheduled for 2 weeks out of each month when the moon is not out for the duration of the tour. Full Moon tours are another way to experience the peacefulness of Tomales Bay at night. All nighttime tours are 3 hours.
Q: How long should I plan on renting a kayak and when is the best time?
A: From Heart’s Desire (weekends only), we have hourly, 2 hour, 4 hour or full day rentals.
From our headquarters in Point Reyes Station – the Take Away rental options are half day (up to 4 hours) or Full Day (returning by 4 or 5 pm depending on the time of year). Our most popular rental is the 4-hour option. Choose the best length for you and your group. The 2-hour option is great if you are a group of 4 or less and only have a short time. Remember, the key to seeing wildlife is spending more time in nature! It is a good idea to get as early a start as possible. If you are planning other activities, plan on kayaking first. You want to paddle before the typical afternoon winds begin and then let it assist you on your paddle back.
Q: Which location should I rent from, Point Reyes or Heart’s Desire?
A: Heart’s Desire – past Inverness (West Side of Tomales Bay, Middle Bay): This is the better location for the shorter 2-hour rental or if you have young children. You will paddle north along the shoreline through Tomales Bay State Park and towards or into the Point Reyes National Seashore. In the park you will discover small remote beaches. There are restrooms at Heart’s Desire and Marshall Beaches. Kayaking is best done early in the morning – that is when the water is calmest. Afternoons can get windy on Tomales Bay, especially in Spring and Summer months.
When kayaking from Heart’s Desire or Chicken Ranch, it is important to stay out of the swim zones which are designated by floats, buoys, and lines between them. There are also private beaches that have signs on them and private docks. Public beaches do not have docks: Chicken Ranch, Shell Beach, Pebble Beach, Heart’s Desire Beach, Indian Beach.
For the Take Away Half Day, Full Day, or Overnight Rentals from Point Reyes, you have more options for where to launch from.
- Beach wheels to the creek! Dog friendly, ½ mile stroll from our office in town through a small chunk of Marin County Parks to a gently sloping beach entrance to the creek. Stay in the main channel and head up the creek under the green bridge on high tides or stay in the channel and head out towards Tomales Bay. This trip requires at least 2 feet of water for the duration of your trip. Check in with our office staff for advice on which day or time frame is best.
- Chicken Ranch Beach is part of Marin County parks with free parking along the roadside. You’ll then unload the kayak from your vehicle and walk them across the beach to the north end (out of the swim zone) for launching. Chicken Ranch can be windy, but you can usually find some calmer waters by tucking into the coves and staying close to the shoreline.You’re also more likely to see wildlife along the edges and if you can see the bottom, that’s where your likely to spot bat rays and leopard sharks.
- Miller Boat Launch – popular spot on Tomales Bay for launching motorboats. Can be quite crowded on weekends. Part of Marin County Parks – $5 per day to park your car. Beautiful spot to kayak in the north part of Tomales Bay, lots of wildlife in the area including Tule Elk and Habor Seals. Can have strong currents and winds, making kayaking challenging or potentially unsafe. Close proximity to the primitive camping beaches in the Point Reyes National Seashore. – Stop for oysters after your trip – next to the boat launch is Nick’s Cove and a few miles to the south is the Marshall Store.
Q: What if I have a group of people that want to go kayaking?
A: First, decide whether you are doing a rental or a tour. If you have more than 6 people then a private tour is the same price as our public tours, only we tailor the itinerary to your group. Guided tours provide the organizer the opportunity to have a more relaxed and enjoyable experience as you can rely on our skilled kayak guides to take the lead. We have lots to choose from when planning a group trip.
You can make a reservation for the group or you can create an event and have your friends call in and put their own credit card down to hold their reservations.
Q: Can I take my dog kayaking?
A: Dogs are not allowed from our Heart’s Desire location, but we have options to take your dog with you from our Point Reyes location. (We even have doggie PFDs or DFDs, if you will)
Q: Is there a minimum age for kayaking?
A: If you are renting a kayak or going on a private tour your child must be at least 50 lbs and older than 5 years. On public tours the minimum age is 13-years. Youth must be accompanied by an adult in their kayak.
Q: What is there to do and see?
A: Tomales Bay is a special, beautiful and dynamic place to visit – that is why we are here. Tomales Bay is a wildlife estuary within and adjacent to the Point Reyes National Seashore. There is so much – harbor seals, sea lions, tide pools, bat rays, hawks, pelicans, oysters, mussels, sea slugs, halibut and much more! Winter is prime time for birding. The fall is the best time to plan to swim in the bay. Spring has green grass and wildflowers and summers are nice and mild.
Q: What is your Cancellation Policy?
A: We have a 7 day cancellation policy for all events. For groups larger than 8 people, we ask for a 14 day cancellation.
Please understand that when a reservation is made with Blue Waters Kayaking, it is a commitment on our part to hold seats in a kayak for you. This often involves considerable work on our part to make sure that the right equipment is ready for you at the right place and time. We can (and often do) turn away others from that particular date (or trip). If you decide to cancel, it can be difficult for us to book someone else on that trip, and in some cases may cause a trip to be cancelled due to the effect on minimum group size requirements. With this in mind, we have implemented the following cancellation policy:
* All reservations are subject to a 5% non-refundable handling fee at the time of booking.
* Up to 7 days prior to the event: Full refunds of any fees paid will be given during this time period, minus the 5% non-refundable handling fee. There is no charge for rescheduling during this time period.
* 7 days prior to the event: Your reservation is considered final, and all fees are due and payable. Unpaid credit card deposits will be charged. After this time no money will be refunded
* Within 7 days (including the day of the event): all cancellations and no shows will be charged in full with no refunds or reschedules unless due to inclement weather. (see below)
We attempt in all cases to determine prior to your tour launch if weather will impede your trip. However, there are rare occasions where we have launched and weather patterns change suddenly at which time we must return to shore.
In this case the following policies apply and each patron is responsible to contact the office to make arrangements.
~~Where tour is cancelled after we already launched the kayaks and must return to shore within the first hour patrons can:
Reschedule with a future trip
Receive a 50% refund
~~Where tour is cancelled before we have launched the kayaks patrons can:
Reschedule the same trip on a future date (at no cost)
Cancel completely. Each patron is responsible to contact the office to make arrangements. In the event you choose to cancel you will receive a full refund minus the 5% handling fee.
Q: Do you have a discount for schools and non-profits?
A: We want kayaking to be accessible to all people. While we are not able to offer discounts on the weekends or on our bioluminescence tours, we may be able to accommodate schools and nonprofits on midweek days at a discounted rate. Please contact our office for more information.
Q: Do you have a large group discount?
A: While we are not able to offer discounts on the weekends or on our bioluminescence tours, we may be able to accommodate large groups on midweek days at a discounted rate. For large groups, please contact our office so we can assist you in planning an appropriate event for your group.
Q: What is the best season to see Bioluminescence?
A: Bioluminescence on Tomales Bay can be viewed all year round, on nights when the moon is not out during the timing of our tours (from just after sunset, into darkness). This translates to about 2 weeks out of each month. Winters are mild on the coast and in between storms is a great time for kayaking. Springtime is the windy season and we are more likely to cancel trips due to strong winds making it unsafe for kayaking from March through May or June. Summers are mild with calm mornings and evenings and breezy afternoons. Fall is typically the warmest and calmest time of the year. However, in recent years we have had issues with air quality due to large wildfires nearby (and far away) and sometimes need to cancel trips if the air quality is unsafe for outdoor activities.
Q: We would like motor boat support for our overnight trip. Do you still offer that?
A: We are no longer offering Motorboat Support for overnight trips. If you plan to pack more like a backpacker and less like car camping, then you should have no problem fitting all the necessities, plus a few creature comforts onto or into your kayaks.
Q: Can I rent a closed deck kayak for myself? And my Friends?
A: To rent a closed deck boat: one person in each boat must have successfully completed a course to learn self-recovery in a closed deck boat. You could have learned that technique somewhere else, you don’t have to have a certificate, you just have to be able to explain to us how you would rescue yourself (and other paddler) if your boat tipped over. We provide a PFD,paddle and skirt for each person, plus a bilge pump, and paddle float for the boat.
Q: Do you ever offer Groupon or other discounts?
A: We run deals and specials through our newsletter – be sure to sign up to get the latest updates from Blue Waters Kayaking and Tomales Bay!
We do not partner with outside organizations for these discounts.
Q: Are there other companies that will allow us to rent kayaks in the evening for the Bioluminescence?
A: No, and it’s for your safety. There is potential for strong winds and dense fog any night of the year (whether it’s forecasted or not). Our guides are skilled in nighttime navigation and weather, and will change the course of trips to adjust for changes in conditions. Motorboats, whether private or commercial, are often operating on the bay at night or around sunset, and pose a threat to improperly lit and/or spread out groups.
Q: Are there alternate options for people over 6’6” and/or 280lbs. to join a tour?
A: If you or someone in your party is above the height and weight restrictions, please give us a call to discuss your options.
Q: I want my kid (under the age of 13) to be able to experience the bioluminescence, what are our options?
A: Because of the nature of these tours (late nights, chilly temps, open water crossing at night), we have a 13-year-old minimum age requirement for our public enrollment tours. Each person under 18 must be accompanied in the kayak by an adult.
For private bioluminescence tours, the minimum age requirement is 10 years. Again, each person under 18 must be accompanied in the kayak by an adult.
For the reasons mentioned above, we recommend youth experience bioluminescence in a different way. Kayak camping is permitted on the beaches of Tomales Bay that lie within the Point Reyes National Seashore. Permits are required and can be reserved through recreation.gov
Kayak camping rentals and tours launch in the morning before the afternoon winds pick up. Once at camp, you are in the areas where the bioluminescence can be viewed right from your campsite after dark. By kayaking along the shoreline by your campsite you avoid the open water crossing at night and can have a shorter trip if any of the younger paddlers aren’t up for it. Additionally, you can leave an adult behind at camp with the kids if they’re already tuckered out from the day’s activities. The minimum age requirement for these trips is 5 years old and 50 pounds – again each youth must be accompanied by an adult in their kayak.
Because the sun sets earlier in the fall, we find these trips are best suited for families and groups of youth from late August through November.
Q: Are there Sharks?!
A: There sure are. But not the scary kind. We mostly see Leopard or Angel Sharks, which are small, bottom feeders. Thresher Sharks are occasionally seen in the fall, leaping from the water as they go after small fish. Seven gills and salmon sharks are the bigger guys, but are rarely seen in Tomales Bay. California White Sharks are commonly spotted in the deeper ocean waters off the Point Reyes Peninsula. The shifting sand bar at the mouth of Tomales Bay acts a bit like a gate or net and keeps most of the larger ocean critters out in the deeper water.