By Gaya Travel on August 11, 2020


There are so many reasons to come to California. Whether it’s to appreciate the incredible natural beauty of its nine national parks, get to know some of the world’s most iconic cities, or taste some of the best food in the United States, there truly is something for everyone. 

And that’s before we get to the beaches and beautiful lakes! The flat waters of Lake Tahoe are perfect for stand up paddleboarding, while the waves off Huntington Beach attract surfers from around the world. Whatever your favourite water sport is, you’ll find a place to do it in Cali!

In this post, we’ll take a look at the best water sports you can do in California. And we’ll give you some hints on where you can do them too. Hopefully, it’ll make it easier to plan and make the most of your trip to the Golden State!



The first one is obvious. Wasn’t it the Beach Boys who sang about surfing in California?! Only Alaska and Florida have more coastline than California, with an impressive 840 miles. We’re not sure exactly how many miles make up great surf beaches, but it’s safe to say there are quite a few spots where you can try it. 

Surfing is so popular here that it has been named the state’s official sport, and it even has a day dedicated to it (20th September, if you’d like to put that in your diary). You don’t have to visit in September for the best waves though, with great surfing all year round. Even beginners will feel at home right from the beginning, with surf schools all along the coast. 

Many people choose to combine a surfing trip with a visit to LA, San Francisco or San Diego. Alternatively, you could head to one of the smaller towns and villages along the coast to disconnect from everyday life.

Want to surf in California? You’d best look at LA’s Huntington Beach, Malibu’s Surfrider Becah, or pretty much anywhere in San Diego. La Jolla Cove gets our vote!

Stand up paddle boarding

If you like the idea of a board sport but don’t want to surf, then happily there’s an alternative for you. Stand up paddle boarding is the fastest growing board sport in the world, and there are several awesome places in California where you can have a go yourself. 

Not only is it a great way to take in your surroundings, but it’s a fabulous work out for your core muscles too. 

One of the most versatile water sports around, stand up paddleboarding can suit a lot of settings. For example, if you want to enjoy calm waters with stunning surroundings, head to Lake Tahoe on the border with Nevada (other lakes and streams are available). However, if you want to combine paddle boarding with surfing, just head somewhere like Huntington Beach.

You can combine paddleboarding and surfing at somewhere like La Jolla Cove in San Diego, with clear waters where you can see down for miles. Take your snorkel with you!

Last but not least, you can also enjoy SUP yoga and fishing. There really is no end to the possibilities of what you can do with a SUP!


This one isn’t all that different to stand up paddle boarding, with both being a great workout for the core but a chance to take in your surroundings and feel the fresh air on your face. 

When it comes to kayaking, you have two choices in California. With somewhere like La Jolla Cove, you can use a sea kayak to get in and out of the caves and get up close and personal with barking sea lions. However, you could also hit up the Klamath River or South Fork American River to ride rapids and inject a bit of adrenaline into your kayaking adventures. 

Whichever one you choose; you’ll get a great workout and have a wonderful time. 


One of the things that can be off-putting about water sports is the inconvenience of buying and transporting equipment. That’s not the case with swimming – all you need is your swimsuit and perhaps a pair of goggles. Then you’re ready to hit your nearest beach or lake! 

This low impact exercise is one of the best ways to give yourself a full body workout – and where better to do it than an iconic beach such as Santa Monica or Venice Beach? For those who are feeling a bit braver and have access to a car, take a road trip along the Big Sur Road and stop off at somewhere like El Matador State Beach. You might be lucky enough to have it to yourself! 

Snorkelling/Scuba Diving

When people think of water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving may not be the first things that spring to mind. However, you’re constantly working your muscles and breathing, so in our book it sure is. 

The waters off California are rich with marine life, with fish, turtles, sharks, whales, and seals just some of the creatures that call this part of the world home. And of course, if you go to the right place at the right time, you can expect to get up close and personal with them! Some of the best snorkelling and scuba spots in California include Catalina Island and Santa Cruz Island. 

If you don’t like the sound of scuba or snorkelling, don’t miss booking onto a whale watching trip where you can safely see these gentle giants from a comfortable distance.


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