Get up close and personal with sea otters and seals by kayaking right along side them in the Elkhorn Slough Conservation Area at Moss Landing.


We went kayaking here off of a recommendation from my Aunt. I thought she was exaggerating and we might see one or two sea otters or seals off in the distance, but a few hours kayaking seems fun none the less.

Wow was I wrong! There are seals and sea otters EVERYWHERE! If you’re not careful they just might jump into your kayak! Well, may not that much since they do keep their distance from people, but you do have to pay attention to where you’re going as not to accidentally run into them.

Elkhorn Slough Conservation Area at Moss Landing is considered to be one of the top ten wildlife viewing destinations in North America. It has the largest remaining raft of southern sea otters on the planet. While the sea otters are the main draw, you will most certainly also see plenty of seals, sea lions, pelicans, and other sea birds.

Directions to Elkhorn Slough

Moss Landing is located in a cove on the pacific coast between Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, about 45 mins from each. This entire area is a protected conservation area which is why so much wildlife comes here.

Kayak Rentals at Moss Landing

You can stand on the side of the road and look out and see lots of seals and sea lions, but kayaking is one of the best way to see these sea creatures as you get a chance to get really close to them.

There’s really only one kayak rental option at this location, which is The Kayak Connection.

Four hour rental rates (full day rentals are also available):

  • $35 for single
  • $55 for double
  • $65 for triple
  • Paddleboards: $35

Paddling Around Elkhorn Slough

The Kayak Connection will provide you with instructions on where to go when you rent your kayaks.

You are recommended to stay a safe distance from the docks with the sea lions since they aren’t always so friendly.


From Kayak Connection, you’ll paddle south around 1,000 feet until you get to the channel entrance from the ocean. Here you go left into the slough. This is where you’ll find most of the sea otters as they prefer this calmer more protected environment.


You can try to paddle right up next to them, but they’re pretty good at avoiding direct contact with people. However you will get a very good view of them playing, diving, and cracking open dinner on the rocks on their chest.


How far you go into the slough will depend on how long you’ve rented your kayaks for, but most of the otters hang out pretty close to the entrance. It will take a little longer to paddle back to Kayak Connection than it did going out as you’re now going against the currant, so make sure you leave enough time.

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