Cali Paddler Explorations: Monterey Penninsula

Cali Paddlers are known for their passion of exploration. A desire to paddle our waters, and pay respects to the amazing wildlife and nature that lives in and near our coastlines. Thank you to Harry Deisroth for this recap of a recent epic journey in the Monterey Bay Area along one of our state's most famous stretches-but unlike 99.9% of its visitors, this is from the water! -C.P.

It’s 7:00 AM and we’re off! My close friend, Brent Allen of Brent Allen Outside and I, set out on an incredible SUP paddle around the Monterey Bay Peninsula. Knowing that it is an El Nino year, and that wildlife is flourishing, we knew we would see some incredible things along the way.

Together, we launched from Fisherman’s Wharf in the early morning when the water was glassy and the air still. We were immediately met and followed by some curious harbor seals, and shortly thereafter encountered several baby sea otters who playfully swam under our boards. No less than 5 minutes later, as we passed the Coast Guard jetty, we heard the sound of the loud rush of air from a humpback whale’s blowhole. Watching the whale corralling thousands of bait fish was something I will never forget.

Brent and I looked at each other with exciting expressions on our faces waiting to see the whale surface once more. We could hear the thousands of bait fish bubbling, and it sounded like rain hitting the water. 30 seconds later, we heard an uproar of surfacing fish and within seconds the whale lunged up, capturing all of the fish in it’s mouth. The events occurred for another 15 minutes. I never imagined I would be able to see something like that so close to where I paddle everyday and so close to shore. This was beginning to look like a great adventure on the Monterey Bay.

We continued by hugging the coast heading west, weaving around and through kelp beds, going past the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Lover’s Point, Cabrillo Point and then stopping off of Point Pinos (about 4 miles) before we headed south along the Peninsula. Two more whales greeted us again as they travelled west towards the open ocean. They swam away, surfacing quite often as we continued paddling. As the sun began to break through the clouds my friend Brent led the way through the rocks of Point Pinos. I realized what an asset it was to have someone with so much knowledge of the Monterey Coastline helping to guide me. We continued paddling for 6 miles or so, talking along the way and reached Point Joe which is the midpoint of the Peninsula coastline. Off the coast of the Point, we stopped in a kelp bed to eat breakfast and talk over what to expect during the next part of the journey.

We sat there looking at the coast, watching cars drive along the well known 17 Mile Drive. Then it hit us...we were paddling one of the most famous stretches of coastline in California! I was very humbled by this and stoked about the fact that I had the opportunity to paddle the entire Peninsula. The winds started to pick up a bit and now we started moving with ease along the coast.

Together we paddled on, cruising 2 miles down to bird rock to check out the many species of birds and sea lions that reside there. After we finished exploring,we continued on, rounding Cypress Point at mile 10. Immediately, we saw whales lunge feeding, surfacing, and tails rising into the air. As with the other sea life we encountered, we kept our distance near the kelp beds so as not to risk having a bad encounter with a whale. However, within seconds of doing so, a whale surfaced no less than 10 feet away from the front of Brent’s board! With excitement Brent attempted capture the encounter on camera, but as soon as the whale surfaced, it submerged. Afterwards all we could do was stand on our boards in amazement at what had just happened.

We slowly continued along the kelp beds and kept our eyes on the whales who were active for about 30 minutes. Upon reaching Stillwater Cove we had paddled 13 miles and had officially reached the end of the Monterey Bay Peninsula. There was so much more to experience, and it was still early, so we continued to paddle across the Carmel Bay area with the winds at our side. This made for some fun sidesurfing action. Brent, knowing the area well, showed me the way to the iconic Point Lobos State Natural Preserve. We explored the area, going along rocks, through gaps and over enormous schools of bait fish. From there, we rounded the last small point making our way to Monastery beach, our final stopping point. We sat on our boards with relief, laughing, smiling, and talking story about the awesome moments from the morning.

In all, I am very stoked to be able to say that I paddled the Monterey Bay Peninsula! It was the most beautiful paddle that I have ever embarked on, and I had never seen so much wildlife in one spot. Knowing that not many people have embarked on the journey, I am very proud to say that I have done it. In all it was 16.91 miles. It took us 6 hours at a leisurely pace stopping to watch wildlife, eat breakfast , snacks etc. I am extremely lucky to be able to paddle in such a beautiful place and having the opportunity to do it at the age of 15, is pretty rad.

This is part of our Cali Paddler Explorations Series. We have the ambitious goal of paddling and sharing every body of water in our great state. We would love for you to share with us something by you and help us continue quest!

Cali Paddler Team Writer Harry Deisroth

Team Writer Harry Deisroth. - Harry is one of those paddlers who has figured out at a young age what the rest of us only wish we had realized sooner...that paddling is a gift to seize every chance we get. In addition to being a great paddler, Harry is a shining example of giving back, with conservation efforts like restoring native fish ponds, to volunteering and helping crews at Wounded Warrior Regatta. Don't be surprised if you look up and see him congratulating others at the finish line with a great big smile. We at Cali Paddler are grateful to be sharing his paddle explorations and look forward to more as he explores California's coasts and waters.

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  • Johnna - August 26, 2015

    Great article, Harry! Hi to your family from Kailua!

  • Maile Kaohi - August 26, 2015

    Congratulations! Awesomeness!

  • Granny - August 25, 2015

    Meant LOVE you, Harry.

  • Granny - August 25, 2015

    Wonderful article. Lofe you, Harry!

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