The Best Outdoor Adventures

Table of Contents

    Recommended Outdoor Adventures

    With the grand Pacific Ocean to the west and beautiful mountains to the east, Santa Barbara is well-equipped to explore your adventurous side. Spend the day kayaking up and down the coast, sailing to the Channel Islands, or viewing the gray whale migration. If you are bold enough to try an airborne sport, Santa Barbara offers some of the best ocean landscapes on the west coast, or experience these spectacular views by hiking the Santa Ynez Mountains that rise over 2,500 feet above sea level. Below are descriptions of just some of the outdoor adventures you can experience in the Santa Barbara area.

    santa barbara sea kayaking


    Paddling along the rugged coastal bluffs, past the yachts lining the Santa Barbara Harbor, or around the secluded coves of the Channel Islands is one of the best ways to appreciate Santa Barbara’s seaside setting. Kayak rentals and equipment are available at Aqua Sports, Paddle Sports, and Santa Barbara Sailing Center. For more adventurous options, expertly guided kayak trips are the way to go and typically include equipment and instruction. Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers guided kayaking excursions emphasizing marine ecology and fun for paddlers of all levels.

    santa barbara sailing


    Sailing Santa Barbara’s glistening waters can be an invigorating experience. Rugged mountains rise along the coast, the Channel Islands shimmer offshore, and light breezes and sunny skies provide ideal sailing weather most of the year. Santa Barbara Sailing Center/Double Dolphin Cruises offers sailboat rentals, skippered and bareboat charters, single and multi-day drips to the Channel Islands and sailing instruction. Or for the younger sailors, contact Sunset Kidd’s Sailing cruises & Yacht Sales.

    paragliding santa barbara

    Aerial Sports

    Get a bird’s eye view of the sweeping coastline and Santa Ynez Mountains by paragliding, hang gliding, skydiving, or flightseeing over and around Santa Barbara County. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, head to Sky Dive Santa Barbara for skydiving and tandem jumping. Or check out Fly Above All and Fly Away Hang Gliding for hang gliding and paragliding. For beginners, lessons are often given by the above companies at Elings Park, a spot more experienced also use when they want a shorter flight where they can cut back and forth along the bluff at the Douglas Preserve and eventually land on Hendry’s Beach.

    Whale Watching santa barbara

    Whale Watching

    With more than 27 species of cetaceans inhabiting the channel waters throughout the year, Santa Barbara is a major center for the study and observation of these magnificent creatures. Cruise the channel from December through May and enjoy a front-row seat to the spectacle of the annual gray-whale migration. Longer trips are scheduled to the Channel Islands from July through November to spot blue whales, humpback whales, and even orcas. Condor Cruises offers daily whale-watching excursions during the whale-watching season.

    hiking in santa barbara

    Mountain Sports

    The Santa Ynez mountain range of the Los Padres National Forest creates not only a stunning backdrop to the Santa Barbara coast, but also the ideal outdoor playground for activities of all kinds. Enthusiasts young and old enjoy hiking, cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, off-roading, shooting ranges, camping, and more.