Guide to Boating & Water Sports

Here in Fortuna, we are “fortunate” enough to live in the land of the redwoods, giant trees who we consider to be our friends. The redwood forests and parks provide ample space for hiking trails and scenic drives. But we’re also located near the majestic Pacific Ocean, as well as other smaller bodies of water, which provide plenty of opportunity to get out on the water. And summertime is the perfect time. Whether you prefer paddling a canoe or kayak, standing aboard a paddle board, sailing the seas, tackling the rapids in a raft, or all of the above, we have it all. So here is a guide to boating and water sports in Humboldt County, CA. 

There are several boat ramps and launches throughout the county if you’re bringing your own watercraft. If not, then local outfitters are ready and waiting to set you up for the day. Or, if being pampered is more your style, then you’ll love the boat tour and cruise options where you can sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Boat Launches

  • Humboldt Lagoons State Park – Big Lagoon and Stone Lagoon both have boat ramp access.
  • Samoa Bridge Boat Ramp – Free boat ramp at the south end of the bridge in Eureka.
  • Eureka Public Marina – Two lane boat launch into Humboldt Bay, as well as a fish cleaning station, parking area, and public restroom. 500 West Waterfront Dr, Eureka CA.
  • Bonnie Gool Guest Dock – 24-hour public boat launch, located near the Adorni Center at 101 Waterfront Drive and “L” Street.
  • South Humboldt Bay & Ocean Beach Access – Known as South Spit, this narrow, 4.5 mile long strip of sand dunes and marshes separates Humboldt Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Fishing along the jetty.
  • Fields Landing Boat Ramp – Free boat ramp that provides excellent access to the southern half of Humboldt Bay.
  • Pedrazzini Boat Ramp – In Loleta, you’ll find access to the lower Eel River. Take Cannibal Island Rd. out of Loleta to Cock Robin Island Rd. Ramp is before the bridge on the right.
  • Richardson Grove State Park & Benbow State Reserve
  • South of Garberville – Two state parks on the south fork of the Eel river offering boating, fishing, and swimming.
  • Mario’s Marina – A public boat launch in Shelter Cove along California’s Lost Coast. 533 Machi Road, Shelter Cove, CA 95589.

Guided Tours & Rentals

Pacific Outfitters 

Pacific Outfitters offers kayak, paddle board and surfing classes, as well as guided kayak and surfing adventures. They also sell ample gear from dive watches and backpacks to clothing and shoes. 
Eureka Location: 1600 5th St, Eureka, CA 95501
Arcata Location: 737 G St, Arcata, CA 95521

Humboats Kayak Adventures 

Humboats boasts the only dockside kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle board (SUP) rental facility on the Redwood Coast. They offer both single and tandem kayaks. Wet suits and training are included in SUP rental. While they are ideally situated right on Humboldt Bay, if your car is suitable, you’re welcome to car-top a rental to a different location.

Expert naturalists and certified instructors outfit and coach your whole group before every trip. You can also outfit your own adventure at their kayak rental center on Woodley Island in Eureka. Here are 5 tours worth taking if you get the chance.

#1 Whale & Wildlife Tour

This sea kayaking tour of Trinidad Bay puts you up close and personal with seals and sea lions relaxing on offshore rocks and migrating grey whales and a passing Orca that travel to the Bay to feed in the nutrient-rich waters. 

#2 Humboldt Bay Kayak Eco-Tour

Paddle back through time in one of California’s most pristine wetlands. You’ll pass Indian Island, the ancestral home of the Wiyot people, as well as ancient shell mounds and archaeological sites that are now part of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll also see the world-famous egret rookery – a windswept grove of Cypress trees where American bald eagles, Great blue herons and Snowy egrets visit during the spring and summer. You’ll see plenty of seals, which are the largest creature in Humboldt Bay (besides Bigfoot). On your way back, you’ll pass the historic, Victorian town of Eureka. Your guide will beguile you with tales of the gold rush and logging history in Humboldt County along with the courageous people who settled this area.. 

#3 Sunset Kayak Tour

Enjoy a guided sunset tour of the bay. Perfect for beginners, you’ll leave the dock, circumnavigate Woodley Island, and float home with the tide. You’ll witness harbor seals and sea lions, otters and blacktail deer, as well as the largest variety of birds, like egrets, herons, raptors, bald eagles and falcons. You’ll also learn about Eureka’s unique history and the Wiyot Indian tribe’s ancestral grounds.

#4 Full Moon Tour 

This two-hour tour around Woodley Island at twilight during a full moon will be quite the adventure. Designed for all levels, this is a very relaxing tour.

#5 Redwood River Tour 

Looking for more adventure? This half-day guided kayak tour will take you by the world-famous “Avenue of the Giants” and under the canopy of 1,000-year-old redwood trees. They’ll provide drybags or lunches and personal gear, and stop at a secluded river bar for lunch.
Location: 601 Startare Dr, Eureka, CA, 95501

Boat Tours & Cruises

Madaket Cruise on Humboldt Bay

If you’re looking for something a little bigger, then check out Madaket Cruises. They offer three types of cruises – something for everyone:

#1 Historically Narrated Cruises

During this 8.5-mile, 1.25-hour tour, the Captain will explain local history, industries, activities, points of interest and wildlife. You’re sure to spot seals and plenty of migratory birds as well as the Fishermen’s Statue and the iconic Carson Mansion.

#2 Cocktail Cruises

This 1-hour, non-narrated tour allows you to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Bay while sipping a hot or cold beverage from Madaket’s tiny bar, which also happens to be the smallest licensed bar in the State of California. 

#3 Eco Wildlife/History Cruises

Spend 1.5 hours venturing through Arcata Bay and experiencing the thrill of close encounters with many of its creatures. Sip a morning cocktail and listen to the Captain narrate about the Bay’s history and uses.

Location: 1 C St, Eureka, CA 95501

Lodging for Your Boating Adventure

Making it an overnight adventure? Book your stay at The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel. Our Fortuna, CA location puts you close to all the action Humboldt Bay offers. Enjoy unique and comfortable accommodations, a hearty breakfast each morning, plenty of amenities, and warm hospitality. Plus, we’re dog-friendly, so bring your four-legged fur-baby along for the ride. 

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