Find peace and discover marine life on a local kayaking adventure.
By Connie K. Ho
Kelp fields. Dolphins. Hundreds of bird species. These are just some of the things you might see while kayaking in Newport Beach. Preston Ong, owner of Southwind Kayak & SUP Center, encourages visitors to take in the sights and sounds while out on the water. This family business has been in the area for more than 15 years, serving this premier destination for kayaking and water sports, in general. “I advise that more people take advantage of it,” Ong says of the locale. “There are a lot of places to go. You can make a hobby out of this and it’s great to go outdoors.” Here, Ong provides a few recommendations for kayaking newbies and veterans alike.
When’s the best time and place to go kayaking?
It’s always better to go in the morning—first off, there’s less people in the water, less boats and it’s less windy. Wind is very important to consider when you go out kayaking. If it’s really windy, then you’ll get blown all over the place. … We try to tell people to go specific routes so it’ll be easier for them [but in the] early morning and early afternoon, you can go wherever you want.
What are some of your tips for kayaking?
We always say … you [should] use 30 percent of your energy … [to go] out and 60 percent to come back. … That way, you won’t be super tired by that time you come back.
What kind of workout can you get from kayaking?
It is a physical, total-body workout because you use a lot of your core with shoulders and arms.
Where are some good spots to visit?
Newport Back Bay [is good] if [it’s your] first time. … [Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve] is an excellent area to visit. … [It’s a] big, open wetland—one of the premier bird watching bird sites in the U.S. We have people [from] all over the country coming here to see the … [many] bird species, … in the morning especially. It’s really peaceful and there’s no motorboat traffic out there, so you don’t hear all the engines running out there all the time; it’s really nice and you can see a lot there. There’s marvelous limestone cliffs, many … species of birds (including some endangered ones) and it’s a great way to spend the morning.
… If you have your own kayak, … more experienced kayakers will go out of the harbor down to Corona del Mar, down to the kelp fields like [in the] Crystal Cove area. … [The] kelp fields are an excellent place to see different wildlife and fish and [habitats]. … A lot of people will … [bring] snorkeling gear or even scuba gear.
… [From Newport] Harbor, …when it’s windy, [you can] go into [the] canals and can see multibillion [dollar] homes and yachts. … Once in a while, you’ll see dolphins there.
What are some of the items you would recommend bringing?
You definitely want a high-quality life jacket and personal life … [flotation] device; they are required [and] you need one for every passenger. [You’ll] want to wear sunglasses because it’s quite bright on the water and you don’t want to hurt your eyes. And wear lots of sunscreen; [even] in the middle of winter, you can get really sunburned if you’re out there for hours.
Pick up these products for your next kayaking trip.
West Marine’s BLACKTIP HAMMERHEAD POLARIZED PERFORMANCE SUNGLASSES feature anti-reflective and hydrophobic coatings to reduce glare and prevent water spots, while also providing 100 percent UVA and UVB protection, available in four colors, $69.99, at West Marine, Via Lido Plaza. (949-673-9700; westmarine.com)
Made using natural ingredients like aloe vera, green tea and palm kernel oil, Alba Botanica’s HAWAIIAN SUNSCREEN with SPF 45 is a reef-safe, biodegradable layer of protection that also moisturizes the skin, $10.99, at Whole Foods Market, Fashion Island. (949-999-8572; wholefoodsmarket.com)
The unisex VCOLD FLEX PADDLE VEST by Vaikobi is supersoft, stretchy and comfortable thanks to a hybrid fabric of Airprene and hydrofleece, which help to maintain body temperature for peak performance, $90, at Ocean Paddlesports, Costa Mesa. (949-378-5972; oceanpaddlesports.com)
The lightweight mesh makeup of these Speedo SURF KNIT WATER SHOES, available for men and women, have plenty of traction and include water-repellent insoles that help this footwear absorb less water and also dry faster once you’re back on land, $35.99, at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fashion Island. (949-640-1107; dickssportinggoods.com)
Sun protection accessories are of extreme importance when out on the water, so put on a wide-brim option like the SEAHAWK PERFORMANCE SUN HAT by Shelta, which is made with a breathable feather-tech fabric that is UPF 50-plus and certified as eco-friendly, $64.50, at Hobie Surf Shop, Corona del Mar. (949-706-8090; hobiesurfshop.com)