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Paddling in Santa Barbara HarborWaterfront

Welcome to Santa Barbara Harbor's rich recreational environment. The harbor is a great place to start your kayak or stand-up paddle board excursion, with a designated human-powered vessel dock located in the launch ramp, as well as convenient access from West Beach and Leadbetter Beach.

Being a busy working harbor, it's important to know the following information when you paddle. Be a prudent mariner by using your best judgment and remembering you are responsible for your personal safety. Be prepared, follow rules and regulations, and have fun!

Safe Paddling Tips in Santa Barbara Harbor

  • Life jacket (PFD) required. It's the law! 

    • Inflatable Type PFD: Must be worn at all times to be considered a PFD. Not for children under 16, weak swimmers, non-swimmers, or where immersion is expected. May need to pull a cord or blow into a tube to inflate.
    • Vest Type PFD: Must be readily accessible to the user, must be worn at all times by children under 13 and should be worn by weak swimmers and non-swimmers. No inflation required.

  • Carry a whistle or other sound signalling device. It's the law!
  • Light required at night. It's the law!
  • Avoid main channel.
  • Do not cross in front of moving boats.
  • Be aware of all vessel traffic -- including behind you.
  • Avoid fishing lines.
  • Avoid passenger loading ramp on Stearns Wharf.
  • Avoid dredge and all dredge equipment.
  • Check weather forecasts.
  • Avoid rough seas and winds blowing you offshore.
  • Do not paddle farther from shore than you can swim.
  • Paddle with a friend.
  • Tell a friend or family member when you plan to return.
  • Wear a wetsuit or other suitable clothing.
  • Wear a leash and hold onto your board if you get in trouble.

Helpful Safety Videos 

Click to watch: Paddle Safety Video

Click to watch: SUP: Leashes and Lifejackets - When to Wear, When Not to Wear

Click to watch: How to Safely Enjoy Paddleboarding This Summer

Thanks to Channel Island Outfitters Inc., ACA (American Canoe Association) and Good Morning America (ABC News) for video content.

Questions? Problems? Call Harbor Patrol at (805) 564-5530

Preferred Paddling Area Map

In order to make knowing where to paddle as simple as possible, Santa Barbara Waterfront created the following map. We hope this helps make the paddling experience safe and enjoyable!

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