Cali Paddler Explorations - Del Monte Beach Monterey

Cali Paddler is stoked to continue its exploration and mapping of amazing places in our state to paddle. We welcome back Team Writer Bret Warner as he explores this gem in Monterey Bay...Del Monte Beach

Cali Paddler Explorations - Del Monte BeachThe first place I ever paddled was Del Monte Beach right in front of Monterey Bay Kayaks. OK, that’s actually not true, it was on the Rogue river in an inflatable kayak, but my dad and I loved it so much we signed up for an Intro to Sea Kayaking class the day we got home. At ten years old, I had no idea what a special place I was getting to paddle.  It is protected from surf so knowing how to launch and land in the surf is not a requisite for paddling there. I know that some of us salivate with desire at launching/landing/playing/cavorting in the surf, but sometimes you need the calm start as well.  It is also solidly in a Marine Sanctuary so seeing seals, sea lions and sea otters is a regularity and not an anomaly. Also, if the wind picks up it will almost assuredly be at your back once you turn around, and you can hug the coast enough on the way out that paddling upwind won’t affect you too adversely.

Cali Paddler Explorations - Del Monte Beach

There are two lots with easy parking. One is the dirt lot that you would also use to park for Monterey Bay Kayaks that is less than 10 for the whole day. The other is a paved lot right next to Monterey Bay Kayaks that is similarly priced. From either lot it is just a quick walk across the bike path to the sand. Once out in the water you can paddle towards the jetty and turn into the harbor if you want extra calm water and exceptional marine mammal viewing. SInce it is in a sanctuary you cannot get too close to any marine mammal so be careful when paddling up to observe any seals or otters. If they swim to you, then you are alright, but stay far enough away so you do not startle any into making an unplanned underwater dive. If you are up for a longer paddle you can head west, parallel to Cannery Row, where you will pass by the Monterey Bay Aquarium from a vantage point that many never get to see it. Keep going until you are about two and a half miles out and you can stop at Lovers point where you will be welcomed at the snack bar even in just booties and board shorts.

Cali Paddler Explorations - Del Monte Beach

The opportunities from here are obviously far greater than the few mentioned above, it is a great starting point for paddling to Moss Landing or Santa Cruz if you are pushing for distance. Paddling around Pacific Grove to Carmel is also a great paddle and can have hefty swells to deal with once you are out of the protection of Monterey Bay.  In recent years I couldn’t paddle here without lamenting that there was no paddle race in the area, at the time I didn’t know about the one the Monterey Outrigger Club hosted. In light of this, and to honor my dad, who passed away while struggling with Alzheimer’s last year, I decided to put on a race up here. If any of the above sounded appealing then come on out on July 9 and race with us. I would love to see you there.

The Important Stuff

  • Launch Area - There is plenty of room to set up any type of craft here. The beach area sprawls for miles.
  • Weather - More often than not there is fog here. The fall is your best bet for sun, but always bring some clothing options when paddling anywhere in this area.
  • Local Vibe - Most people will just be stoked to see another paddler paddling anything. I have never had anything but positive conversations with other people out on the water here. On that note, however, if you paddle up to Lover’s Point and get enticed by the surf that occasionally breaks there you will receive a very different kind of welcome. Not that we should be surfing any long touring/racing craft at a crowded break, but it is not the most welcoming place for any paddlesurfing craft.
  • Snacks when you’re done - Monterey Bay Kayaks has a basic set of sports drinks and energy bars, but I often head to East Village Coffee when I am done paddling. There is no shortage of world famous seafood on the wharf just a few minutes away either.
  • Other pertinent info - I paddle here early a lot, between a 6 and 7 am launch time, and I always see a few homeless people still in their sleeping bags right by the beach. I have never been bothered/accosted by anyone, but would be remiss not to mention it here. 

Cali Paddler Explorations - Del Monte Beach

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!

Team Writer Bret WarnerTeam Writer Bret Warner - Paddling truly got its hooks into me when I, on a whim, watched the 1999 Santa Cruz Paddlefest with my dad. I had kayaked a little before, but from then on the addiction was palpable. My first kayak, a purple and turquoise Necky Rip, came soon after. The following year I was that kid at UCSD who had a surf kayak in the common study area instead of a surfboard in my dorm room. I also taught sea kayaking all through college in San Diego, and up in Santa Cruz after I graduated.

When SUP came around, however, the paddling addiction became even more rabid. The garage started to fill up with different types of boards, and is now more than half full of hollow wood boards I have built myself,both for environmental reasons, and because it’s awesome to get to talk about how you built your own board when people ask you about it after a race. I love the paddle racing scene in California right now. Everyone is so stoked to be on the water competing, and the fierce competition is matched by the smiling faces when the race is over. I have gotten to paddle crafts that I never really considered before, and can see myself getting hooked all over again on something else: prone, OC-1, surfski,whatever, I just need more garage space.

Three years ago I founded the non-profit Stand up to Alzheimer’s. An organization that raises money and awareness for Alzheimer’s research through paddle races. This organization was born from lacking a tangible way of dealing with my father’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, but has now become a way, hopefully, for other to help cope as well. Our next event is on July 9 in Monterey at Del Monte Beach, just a little north from Monterey Bay Kayaks. Visit us at

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