Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to make a reservation?
During June, July and August, it is highly recommended for all events. During the rest of the year, reservations are recommended mainly for guided tours and classes and for large or private groups. See our Reservation Policy.
Which location is better, the Elkhorn Slough location or Monterey?
Both are wonderful, beautiful and unique eco-systems to explore by kayak. Our Monterey location offers the experience of paddling in the ocean around the harbor and Monterey shoreline (Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row), while the Elkhorn Slough is an tidal estuary which offers a quieter, wetland experience. Harbor seals, sea otters, and sea lions can be seen at both paddling destinations. Eventually you must paddle both locations for the full experience of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Get more information on these pages:
When is the best time of day to go kayaking?
Usually the mornings and later afternoons are less windy during spring and summer, but this can vary according to the season and current local weather pattern.
Check the weather forecast or call us for current local conditions. There is some seasonal information on each area on these pages:
Will I see sea otters this time of year?
Yes! Luckily the Monterey Bay is home to a large resident sea otter population and they can be seen here year round. Harbor seals and sea lions are also marine mammals that live here year round. Whales and dolphins tend to be visitors to the bay and sighting are rarer and more dependent upon the seasons (Gray whales in more prevalent in winter, Blues and Humpbacks in the summer).
Where will I see more otters, Monterey or Elkhorn Slough?
While we see sea otters in both locations, they are easier to view on Elkhorn Slough because they tend to stay in a smaller area.
What should I do if an otter or other marine mammal approaches my kayak?
Paddle away from the marine mammal. In order to prevent disturbing the natural behaviors of marine mammals we ask that you try to maintain a distance of 100 feet by paddling away from any marine mammals that approaches your kayak. Learn more about paddling ettiquette, federal harrasment laws and marine mammals. Read our environmental philosophy.
Will I get wet?
One of the wonderful things about kayaking is that it's a water sport. This means that you could get a little wet. This can range from just your little toe to a much larger percentage of your body.
Are there sharks out there?
There are sharks of all kinds in the Elkhorn Slough and in the Monterey Bay. However, there are very few capable of, or interested in attacking humans. Most of the sharks in our area, such as leopard sharks, are small and feed on crustaceans and invertebrates. We have never had an incident of shark attack on any of our kayaks in over 25 years of daily paddling at both of our locations.
What's the difference between a tour and rental?
Although rentals cost less, we do recommend starting your first experiences with a guided tour. Even if you have paddled before, your experience can be enriched with information about the area and and you always learn more about kayaking. Our guides also provide a safety factor (they are fully trained in kayaking instruction, group beach launching and landing, water rescues, group management, emergency procedures and carry cell phones or marine radios and first aid kits, tow ropes and other rescue gear.)
Who can rent a kayak?
You don't have to have any previous kayaking experience to come paddling with us though everyone should be a good swimmer. Each paddling group must have at least one adult over 18 years old, and everyone in the group must be able to swim. Kids should be at least 5 years old and in a double with an adult. Kids under 12 must be with an adult in a double kayak. Kids 13 years old and older may paddle in single kayaks as long as there is an adult in the group.
If you are not a good swimmer we suggest going on a guided tour where you will be well taken care of by our trained and personable staff. Read about our guided tours.
Do you charge an hourly rental rate?
No, we charge one low, flat rate for gear, instruction and fun experience without a time limit. This allows you to paddle at your own pace without worrying about a start or return time. All specialty gear like protective clothing, lifejackets, well equipped boats and quality paddles are always included in the price for your convenience.
We do offer a great deal: the Frequent Paddler package #1 with unlimited rentals at both locations for a full 2 months.
Do I have to go through the rental class each time I rent?
No. If you already know how to paddle, control and re-enter your boat, you can ask for the "express" which is just to inform you of the latest weather forecast and local area information.
What do I wear/need?
Layering is the best way to adapt to varying coastal weather. The amount of layering you will want will be dependent on whether you are going out on the ocean or slough, air and water temperature, wind, and whether you are going out on an easy 2-hour guided tour or taking an intensive all day surfing class.
We always offer the outer layers like wetsuits and paddling jackets at no charge. We recommend wearing base layers, such as swimwear and lightweight, quick-drying tops and bottoms.
Avoid heavy cottons, particularly denim, as it tends to make you colder when it gets wet from splashes and drips. Cotton T-shirts are okay for most days, though rash guards or synthetic base layers are best. Bring a change of clothing and towel to leave in the car (just in case). See the clothing suggestions in our store.
Keep in mind that you don't have to be IN the water to get wet. Most people get cold because of splashes and the wind chill factor.
Check your confirmation letter for specific recommendations if you are participating in a specialty tour or class.
It is advisable to have sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, eyewear retainers, water, snacks, and footwear that can get wet. All these items are also available at our stores. Check out the beach gear in our store.
Do I have to wear a wetsuit?
We don't mandate the use of wetsuits, however we do highly recommend them for the Monterey location. The water temperature in the ocean varies from 54-58 degrees Fahrenheit year round, making hypothermia a real threat in the event of a capsize, or even just getting wet from splashing. The warmest and most comfortable option we can supply you with is a wetsuit, paddle jacket, and a life jacket.
At our Elkhorn Slough location, wetsuits are not used as often and we offer paddling jackets and pants as well as the option of wearing your own quick-drying clothing. The water in the slough is not as cold as the bay, and the shore is closer in case you have to swim. Keep in mind that most people get cold due to the wind chill factor and not because they are IN the water.
Do you have lockers to stow my gear while I'm on the water?
MBK suggest you lock your belongings in your vehicle and leave your car keys with us. To accommodate customers on bike or foot we have limited space for belongings in our staff room.
Will you provide me with footwear?
MBK does not include footwear, however we do sell a wide selection of water shoes, booties, and sandals in our retail store. Warm socks and/or booties are recommended for longer day trips on cool days. See footwear in our store.
Do you provide dry bags or other equipment I can use to keep my gear dry while kayaking?
No, because we could not ensure that your gear would be 100% waterproofed in rental dry bags. But we do carry a variety of inexpensive waterproof bags in our retail shop, many of which are perfect for cameras and cell phones. Check out our dry bag selection in our store.
We suggest taking as little as possible on the water, leaving your towels, spare clothes and any valuables in your car. You can also leave your car keys with us so you won't chance losing them.
Can I stop and get out for lunch or to use the bathroom when paddling at Elkhorn Slough/Moss Landing location?
Elkhorn Slough is a Reserve and paddlers may only land and get out of their kayaks at the public access beach in the North Harbor and at Kirby Park which is 4.5 miles into the Elkhorn Slough. Please do not get out of your kayaks anywhere other than Kirby and the North Harbor because banks of the Slough are part of a fragile ecosystem and composed of dense mud. Restrooms are located in our retail shop, in the North Harbor parking lot and at Kirby Park (4.5 paddle from the shop). See paddling map of Elkhorn Slough. Also check out our shuttle pickup option for renters.
Can I stop to use the bathroom when paddling at the Monterey location?
Yes, there are public restrooms on Fisherman's Wharf and Harbor area, but they are not really convenient. Keep in mind that you shouldn't leave your kayaks unattended on the beach or landing ramps. See paddling map of Monterey.
How do I choose a kayak to purchase?
Our knowledgeable retail staff are available to help you select a kayak that is best suited for your needs. We also recommend demos (test paddling) before you buy. We carry a wide variety of kayaks at both of our locations for you to demo at Monterey or demo at Elkhorn Slough or rent. We will even credit the cost of your demo toward the purchase of your new kayak. Our Frequent paddler packages can also be applied to your purchase.
How do I choose a paddle to buy?
Our knowledgeable retail staff are available to help you select a paddle that is best suited for your needs. We also recommend trying before you buy—daily rentals are available. The type of paddle varies due to type of kayaking, style of paddling, boat width and body size. We have a wide range of paddles at both of our stores to fit you.