Santa Cruz, Calif.
Elkhorn Slough is a six-mile-long saltwater marsh located between Santa Cruz and Monterey, California, that's famous among wildlife watchers for its rich array of biological diversity. Depending on the tide, sea kayakers can putin at the public launch at Moss Landing or from the docks of Kayak Connection, a local outfitter. Since the afternoon wind usually blows onshore, it's also possible to launch farther inland at Kirby Park and paddle out to the coast in the morning calm and enjoy a tailwind on the return trip. You'll see dozens of bird species including pelicans, hawks and harriers; sea lions, leopard sharks and harbor seals; and maybe even a bobcat or mountain lion. Local knowledge: Kayak Connection, kayakconnection.com.
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