Things to Do on the Water

The editor highlights water activities worth exploring in the Bay Area.


The summers of my youth in the South were hot and humid, so finding ways to cool off was a critical seasonal survival skill. Swimming was a no-brainer, with pools, lakes, creeks, or ponds in big demand. Shorts and flip-flops and sun hats and sleeveless shirts were de rigueur.

Summers in the Bay Area have the long days I cherish, but there are few true hot spells, no humidity, wide-ranging temperatures from morning to evening that require layers and layers of clothes, and the fog. Always the fog.

I love the outdoors, and that’s where this issue is headed, though this great outdoors focus takes a water-oriented approach. East Bay residents don’t really need cooling off, but maybe they do need a little prompting on a few ways to explore and enjoy the watery world around them, from walking on sandy urban beaches to kayaking on the estuary and fishing on inland lakes.

There is a lot of water here, and for some, it may be rather taken for granted. It’s part of what makes the Bay Area so grand, and we’re celebrating it. “The Great Aquatic Outdoors” starting on page 28 highlights 21 ideas to add to your aquatic Bay Area bucket list of activities in — or within easy distance of — the East Bay. The list begins with eerie bioluminescence night paddling at Tomales, a half-day memorable bay cruise on the USS Potomac, and a harrowing experience in a cage dive for great white sharks off the Farallones. Now that’s hitting the water.

Adrenaline junkies might like rowing, kiteboarding, scuba diving lessons, paddling an outrigger canoe, or dragon boat races, and that’s all included here. Those more inclined to be drawn toward relaxing water sporting adventures might prefer calm tide pooling, lake cruising, or a gondola ride on Lake Merritt, and they can learn about those, too. For water enthusiasts whose interests may lie somewhere in between, how about pedal boating, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, or sailing or motor boating on the bay?

The late spring and early summer are great times to be outdoors, so this season, embrace the water and get wet by exploring the aquatic Bay Area. It’s a whole new wet, wild world out there.