With all the focus on sustainable tourism in Monterey , coupled with the lovely recreation area formed by Monterey Bay, it’s no wonder that sea kayaking is popular here. Whether you want to try paddling your first kayak, or you’re an expert who hasn’t brought your own gear out to California, you’ll find a local outfit ready and willing to hook you up.
Adventures by the Sea (299 Cannery Row, 831/372-1807, www.adventuresbythesea.com , 9 a.m.–sunset, tours $50/person, rentals $30/day) rents kayaks for whole days to let you choose your own route in and around the magnificent Monterey Bay kelp forest.
If you’re not confident enough to go off on your own, Adventures offers tours from Cannery Row . Your guide can tell you all about the wildlife you’re seeing: harbor seals, sea otters, pelicans, seagulls, and maybe even a whale in the wintertime!
The tour lasts about 2.5 hours, cost $50 per person, and the available tandem sit-on-top kayaks make it a great experience for school-age children. Adventures by the Sea also runs a tour of Stillwater Cove at Pebble Beach . Reservations are recommended for all tours, but during the summer the Cannery Row  tour leaves regularly at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so you can stop by on a whim and see if there’s a spot available.
Monterey Bay Kayaks (693 Del Monte Ave., 831/373-5357, www.montereybaykayaks.com , tours $50–60/person) specializes in tours of both central Monterey  and up north in Elkhorn Slough. You can choose between open-deck and closed-deck tour groups, beginning tours perfect for kids, romantic sunset or full moon paddles, or even long paddles designed for more experienced sea kayakers. Most tours cost $50–60 per person; check the website for specific tour prices, times, and reservation information.
If you prefer to rent a kayak and explore the bay or slough on your own, Monterey Bay Kayaks can help you out there too. If you really get into it, you can also sign up for closed-deck sea kayaking classes to learn about safety, rescue techniques, tides, currents, and paddling techniques.
A third company, AB Seas Kayaks of Monterey  (32 Cannery Row , #5, 831/647-0147, www.montereykayak.com , tours $60/person, rentals $30/day), also has plenty of sit-on-top sea kayaks for rent—choose a single or double kayak as you need. Or take a tour of Monterey Bay with an experienced guide.