US West Coast 🌉 Boating Guide

Posted Jul 26 2021 in Guides

Whether you are planning to go cruising along the US West Coast or simply rent a boat for a day trip nearshore, sail.me is here to guide you through all the important things you need to know about boating on the Pacific.

We’ll start by zoning out the West Coast and looking through all the sailing factors that might make or break your vacation on the water. Stay around for the ultimate US West Coast boating guide!

Boating in Southern California

Sailing, waves, and wind in Southern California

Southern Cali is famous for its great surfing spots. And therefore, its big waves. With a rare occurrence of calm waters, this region promises a bumpy ride almost every time you decide to go offshore by boat. 

So if you are not a fan of swells and lumpy journeys, or you easily get seasick - better reconsider whether Southern California is the best place for your boating adventures. There are some good days if you are lucky though.

The region is quite windy, especially during the afternoon hours between 1 PM and 6 PM. This is also when the waves tend to be bigger. Another thing to remember when sailing around the area is to look out for big merchant ships and ferries. 

Weather conditions in Southern California

The best thing about Southern Cali is the weather is quite predictable. The region is known for its moderate summery temperatures throughout the year, making it a safe bet for boating and cruising voyages. There are hardly any crucial last-minute weather changes that can ruin your trip on the water. And there is also no serious hurricane season to worry about.

Boating activities in Southern California

This part of the Pacific Coast area is ideal for fishing and angler endeavors! The South California waters have an abundance of sea life. Some of the fish found in the region include butterfish, bonitos, halibut, and bass. Hence if you want to chase the greatest catch of your life - this might be the place for you. 

Another thing you can enjoy from the comfort of a boat is wildlife watching. In Southern California, you can spot humpbacks, gray whales, blue whales, killer whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters and so much more! If you enjoy snorkeling, there are some great diving spots near San Diego, such as La Jolla Cove and Shores.

The area is also a hotspot for boat parties and social gatherings on yacht charters. If you feel like exploring and relaxing - there are many cruises running between tourist hotspots and different cities as well. 

Best places to visit by boat in Southern California

Here is a list of the best sailing and boating spots in Southern California:

  • Marina del Rey
  • San Diego Bay
  • Dana Point
  • San Clemente
  • Coronado Island
  • Rainbow Harbor
  • Shoreline Village
  • Belmont Shore and Naples
  • Santa Catalina Island
  • Balboa Island
  • Corona del Mar
  • Crescent Bay
  • Emerald Bay

Explore Northern California by boat

Sailing, waves, and wind in Northern California

Sea conditions are rarely perfect in the Northern part of the California coastline. The area is known for its strong tides and huge swells. So if you’d like to boat in a region with small waves and a calm sea, then maybe you would not like Northern California as much. 

Big waves usually prevent small boats from going out to the open sea. Therefore, in case your plan is to go for a yacht or boat rental, our advice is to choose a bigger and stable boat.

It would be hard to ignore the fast and robust winds on this part of the Pacific Coast area. The wind is the strongest in the central bay near San Francisco. The southern and northern parts of the delta have lighter winds and less water traffic. These locations are considered the best for a serene boating journey.

Weather conditions in Northern California

With low humidity, relatively warm temperatures, and no harsh winter conditions, sailing is possible all year round. The water, on the other hand, is quite cold and unpleasant for swimming due to the chill tides from the North and the upwelling from the deep ocean.  

Boating activities in North California coast

The abundance of fish in Northern Cali is super inviting for deep sea fishing trips on the water. Some of the fish you can catch in the area include white sturgeon, halibut, king salmon, lingcod, white sea bass, and striped bass. 

Northern California is also great for marine life watching. There are numerous organized group or private tours to choose from - whale watching, shark sightings, and more. Or you can get your boat or boat rental and try to spot some wildlife yourself.

Best places to visit by boat in Northern California

Here is a list of the best sailing and boating spots in Northern California:

  • San Francisco Bay
  • Big Sur
  • Santa Cruz
  • Mendocino
  • Pfeiffer Beach

Sailing in the Pacific Northwest

Sailing, waves, and wind in the US Northwest Coast

Waves in the Pacific Northwest are even bigger and easier than in California. The constant swells in the region make the area a surfing paradise but also turn it into a huge boating challenge. 

With uneasy waters and strong tides, going out in the ocean should only be considered if you are an experienced boater. If you plan to book a boat, make sure to hire a skillful captain who knows the local sea conditions and weather well.

Sailing in these waters is not for everyone. Passengers often get seasick or have difficulty coping with a windy and bumpy voyage. The wind is usually strong and predictable, however, there are some good days for calm cruising and sailing.

Weather conditions in the Northwest

The weather in the Pacific Northwest is constant. Heavy rain and storms rarely occur. Even when it rains, it is a light rain that passes quickly. Be cautious though. Do not go out at sea if the weather forecast predicts stormy weather. Because thunderstorms are a rare event but can also be quite strong and dangerous in this region. 

Boating activities in Pacific Northwest

Once more, the US West Coast never disappoints when it comes to fishing. The Northwest coastal area is rich in sea life and provides amazing opportunities to catch fish in the deep sea and near the shore. Some of the fish found in the region are bass, albacore tuna, rockfish, halibut, and more.

This US region is ideal to cruise the isles near the shore. Island hopping is a wonderful trip itinerary. You get to combine sailing with nature sightseeing and wildlife watching. Along the way, you can dock the boat at local harbors and go enjoy the island’s beaches, trails, lakes, and enjoy numerous outdoor activities.

Best places to visit by boat in the Pacific Northwest

Here is a list of the best sailing and boating spots in the Pacific Northwest:

  • Seattle
  • Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge
  • Port Townsend
  • San Juan Islands
  • Langley, Whidbey Island
  • Astoria
  • Ecola State Park
  • Cannon Beach

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