FAQ

General

What is there to do and see?

Tomales Bay is a special, beautiful and dynamic place to visit – that is why we are here. Tomales Bay is a wildlife estuary next to the Point Reyes National Seashore. There is so much – harbor seals, river otters, 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.


I want to visit Point Reyes for the day and go kayaking but how do I get started?

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, culinary events, youth camps and team building. Then, use our online reservation system to book online or give us a call.


I want to stay overnight in Point Reyes area and go kayaking but how do I get started?

With so much to do it is easy to put together a fun multi-day visit and kayaking should be on your list of things to do! Kayaking is what you make it to be! 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 for overnight and camp on one of the remote beaches on Tomales Bay (see ‘what to bring’ for planning an overnight kayak trip). For those who like lodging based trips, we recommend the Tomales Bay Resort located next door to our kayak launch site in Inverness, CA.


What if I have a group of people that want to go kayaking?

First, decide whether you are doing a rental or a tour. If you have more then 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. We specialize in culinary and social kayak trips. Make a list of everyone with their height, weight and age. 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.


Is there a minimum age for kayaking?

If you are renting a kayak or going on a private tour your child must be at least 50lbs. On public tours the minimum age is 13-years. For Drake’s and Tule Elk tours – we ask that the minimum age for a public tour is 14 years old.


Can I take my dog kayaking?

We love pets, but the short answer is no.


Should I rent a kayak or join a guided kayak tour?

Guided tours are the best way to learn about Tomales Bay and kayaking because you will spend time with a local naturalist kayak guide. Our tour guides provide safety and share with you the splendors of Tomales Bay. We offer public tours on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and private tours any day of the week. If you have young children, between the ages of 5 and 13 years, plan to doing a private tour or a rental.

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 recommend a 4-hour kayak rental, which gives you time to enjoy the bay and take a rest on a nice beach. We have single and double kayaks. We offer open-deck kayaks for novice paddlers or *closed deck kayaks for the paddler with recovery experience. 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 do require that each person has some kind of wetsuit on during times of colder water. We have 3 styles: Farmer John with the long legs, Farmer John with Shorts, and actual wetsuit shorts. We also require that each person wear a Personal Flotation Device (better known as a life jacket) 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 Personal Flotation Device for each person, Spray Skirt for the boat, paddles and a pump and paddlefloat for the boat.


Tour Information

How do I choose the best tour for me?

All of our tours are rated for beginners or the professional paddler. Remember we have half day and full day trips. The Morning Paddle or Evening Paddle are 3-hour tours and are considered half day tours. Our premiere nature tours: Drakes Estero and Tule Elk, are offered as 4-hour or 6-hour trips. The 6-hour, full day, tours provide a more leisurely experience and time to enjoy a picnic lunch and a short stroll on a beach. The key to seeing wildlife is to spend more time in nature!


I am reserving a spot on a guided tour, what do I bring?

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, Tule Elk Tour, Paddle and Hike) then please bring a full lunch and an item to share as a potluck. We recommend you bring pants and walking shoes. You will be receiving more specific information pertinent to each tour.

The following items should be brought for the kayak portion of the trip:
Windbreaker
Shorts: preferably quick drying nylon
Long sleeved non-cotton shirt (polypropilene, capilene, wool or fleece)
Footwear that can get wet
Sunscreen
Hat
Sunglasses
Lunch or snacks
Quart size water bottle (full)
Waterproof Binoculars

If you are going to be on a sit-on-top kayak, you might wear your swimsuit under your clothes to facilitate changing clothes quickly.


Rental Information

Which location should I rent from, Inverness or Marshall?

Inverness (West Side, South 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 and into the Tomales Bay State Park. In the park you will discover small remote beaches and the popular Heart’s Desire Beach. All the public beaches have restroom facilities. 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 Inverness, 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. The private beaches are: Teachers Beach, Shallow Beach.

Marshall (East Side, North Bay): This is the better location for overnight kayak trips, since it is only 1.5 miles from the first camping beach, Marshall Beach.You will paddle across the bay to the public beaches in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The Marshall Store is in the same boatyard and they serve delicious oysters.


How long should I plan on renting a kayak and when is the best time?

We rent for 2-hours, 4-hours and all day. 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.  At Inverness, it is especially important to start your kayaking in the mornings.


I am renting, what do I need to bring with me?

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 recreation 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 wetsuit, a personal flotation device, and a paddle. We have a large but limited supply of spray jackets, so if you have a waterproof jacket, please bring it along.

Windbreaker
Shorts: preferably quick drying nylon
Long sleeved non-cotton shirt (polypropilene, capilene, wool or fleece)
Footwear that can get wet
Hat
Sunglasses
Waterproof Binoculars

If you are going to be on a sit-on-top kayak, You might wear your swimsuit under your clothes to facilitate changing clothes quickly.


Reservation Policies

Do I need a reservation to go kayaking?

The short answer is Yes. You can book online or call the office to make a reservation for a Tour, Class or Rental. On the weekends we do take walk-in customers at both our Inverness and Marshall sites for rentals ONLY. 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).


Cancellation Policy

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:

*  Up to 7 days prior to the event: A $5 per person processing fee will be charged for any cancellation on any reservation.  Full refunds of any fees paid will be given during this time period, minus the $5 processing 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 and up to 72 hours prior to your event:  you may reschedule for an additional 50% payment of the class or trip cost.  Upon rescheduling, you will receive a new reservation confirmation.

*  Within 72 hours and 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 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 per person non-refundable deposit that was included in your reservation.


Camping Information

What should I bring if we plan to camp overnight?
The following items should be brought for the kayak portion of the trip:

Windbreaker
Shorts: preferably quick drying nylon
Long sleeved non-cotton shirt (polypropilene, capilene, wool or fleece)
Footwear that can get wet
Sunscreen
Hat
Sunglasses
Lunch or snacks
Quart size water bottle (full)
Binoculars – if available
If you are going to be on a sit-on-top kayak, you might wear your swimsuit
under your clothes to facilitate changing clothes quickly.

In addition to previous list, your overnight camping pack list should include:

Sleeping bag & pad
Tent
Flashlight (spare batteries)
Eating utensils- one bowl, cup, fork and spoon
Wool socks
Warm hat – consider a windproof hat if you tend to get cold
Hiking shoes
Swimsuit
Towel
Toiletries
Book and/or journal
Cooking gear
Firewood-is not to be gathered on the Point Reyes Peninsula- please bring your own or we have it for sale