Santa Cruz Harbor Classes

Progression and Exploration - Natural Bridges: Wind and Waves


The journey to Natural Bridges is a classic Santa Cruz day paddle.  We’ll launch from the Harbor in the morning and make our way west along the coast before the wind picks up.  Along the way, we will explore the kelp forest and look for sea otters, sea lions, and the surfers at Steamer Lane and then head northwards to see more of the amazing coastline on our way up to the last remaining arch at Natural Bridges State Park. 
By the time we are ready to turn around, the wind will have picked up – which means learning how to paddle in wind waves and more exposed conditions.  Any local paddler will tell you, if you kayak around Northern California then be prepared to paddle in wind waves.  These locally generated, short, steep waves create chop and create the perfect opportunity to practice edging and bracing.  We’ll get a chance to paddle out to sea to experience the waves, and then we’ll turn towards the harbor.  The wind blows from the west, and will help push us back towards our destination with a bit of wind-wave surfing along the way. 
Paddling in wind waves is an excellent introduction to rougher or lumpy water and offers a great chance to practice your strokes and braces.  With good instruction along the way, this class will allow you to become a more confident coastal kayaker.  This journey will be approximately 5 hours long and we will paddle around 9 miles.  In order to rest and refuel, we will take a break at Cowell’s Beach (where there is a conveniently placed restroom) on the way out and also raft up in the kelp near Natural Bridges at our turnaround point.