A trip along Laguna’s shoreline is extra special by kayak, where even the most timid explorers can admire the beauty of the ocean and the sea life frolicking within it.
By Ashley Ryan
The deep blue waters off the coast of our little artist town make the perfect spot for kayaking. First used by Inuit people to hunt and fish, kayaks later became a mode of transportation before eventually becoming tools for the recreational activity beloved by explorers today.
From experiencing vibrant sunsets on the gently moving waves to seeking out colorful fish and awe-inspiring mammals in the marine protected area along Laguna’s coastline, kayaking is not only an incredible way to explore the ocean but also a great way to gain new perspective on the town itself. La Vida Laguna owners Billy Fried and Doug Oyen ensure that their kayaking tours are suited for those of any age or skill level so that everyone can experience the magic of these on-the-water adventures. Here, Oyen, a Laguna Beach resident with a background in everything from skiing and snowboarding to white-water rafting, shares what makes kayaking so special.
Tell us about ocean kayaking and how it differs from kayaking in rivers or lakes.
Doug Oyen: For starters, we launch directly into the open ocean, through [the] waves, which requires training on the beach. … Ocean kayaking involves interacting with marine life. You see the landscape of the entire city and … in the summertime, we actually snorkel and swim in the ocean, which is [a] far different [experience] than [swimming in] lakes or rivers.
What are the benefits of kayaking as a workout?
It builds core strength, balance and upper body endurance, [using muscles in] your entire core, shoulders, back and arms.
What can beginners expect during their first lesson or tour?
Well, they’re going to see the entire city … [during a near-the-coast] paddling experience. They’ll see various species of birds, fish and, hopefully, larger marine life like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even whales. … It’s a very safe sport that can be enjoyed by children, adults and even seniors. If they do fall [into the water], it’s very easy to get back into a kayak and, because they’re wearing life vests, they have nothing to worry about with regard … to safety.
What are some of the best places to kayak in Laguna and why?
The entire coastline is magnificent. However, north Laguna offers … easier entry into the ocean because of the protective coves that are unique to [the] Heisler Park [area].
What types of tours do you offer?
We offer a tour seven days a week for individuals or groups at 10 a.m. for a 90-minute paddle along the shore in north Laguna.
What makes kayaking special to you?
Every day, we go down to the beach and are greeted by a completely different ocean. The sand moves, the ocean changes texture, waves come and go, and marine mammals come and greet us. There’s nothing remotely similar from one day to the next. It’s always exciting and it brings us much closer to Mother Earth in the sense that we get to appreciate and share in the changes that occur.