Since 2005, Humboldt Baykeeper has offered free bay tours for the general public. Over the years, more than 7,500 people have enjoyed docent-led tours aboard our Boston Whaler, the Harbor District’s fire and patrol boats, and the Madaket, the historic former ferry that offers informative narrated cruises.
This year, our Bay Tours Program has restructured to focus on youth and ESL students, although we still offer kayak tours for the general public in conjunction with Earth Day and Coastal Cleanup Day volunteer trash cleanups. These kayak tours are combined with trash removal on Indian Island in partnership with the Wiyot Tribe, Coast Seafood, and Hog Island Oyster Company. Our next paddle cleanup will be on Saturday, September 15, for Coastal Cleanup Day. To reserve a spot, contact Jasmin Segura at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-407-6183.
A little background will help explain why we decided to refocus the Bay Tours Program after so many years of offering tours to the general public. In 2014, we began offering free kayaking tours with gear and guides provided by the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka. These kayak tours were paired with a guided hike along the recently-completed Hikshari’ Trail and Elk River Wildlife Area on the south Eureka waterfront, with the goal of introducing residents and visitors to this beautiful section of the California Coastal Trail.
Our typical paddle tours included quite a few people who had never kayaked before. People said things like, “I’ve lived in Eureka my whole life and have never been out on the bay!” and “I’ve always wanted to paddle to Indian Island but never had a chance to until today.” As heart-warming as that was to hear, it was also heart-breaking to know that so many people live within sight of the bay throughout childhood and well into adulthood without ever having an opportunity to experience it from the water.
Inspired by a Times-Standard article about the City of Eureka’s CAPE program—the Community Access Program for Eureka—we contacted City staff to develop kayak tours for teens. After the first “Rock the Bay” tour in 2016, we expanded to provide bay tours for Eureka’s summer day camp for 8 to 12 year olds (Camp Cooper) as well as teens.
In 2017, Jasmin Segura, our bilingual Bay Tours Coordinator, launched a new partnership with English Express, a non-profit school for English as a Second Language (known as ESL) with classes in Eureka, Fortuna, and Redway. The school’s founder, Mary Ann Hytken, brings local residents into classes to lead discussions on a wide range of topics. She also leads many different tours for the students and their families to explore Humboldt County. We are now leading tours of new sections of California Coastal Trail and other natural areas along the bay and coast for English Express, as well as bay tours aboard the Madaket.
Thanks to funding from the California Coastal Conservancy, Humboldt Area Foundation, the Cereus Fund, Humboldt Sponsors, and individual donors, we are able to continue offering these free tours of our beautiful Humboldt Bay.
Looking for other opportunities to experience Humboldt Bay from the water?
The Madaket offers tours throughout the summer and fall, including sunset cocktail cruises, wildlife tours, and narrated tours focused on Humboldt Bay history. For info and to book tickets, call 707-445-1910, find the Madaket online, or visit the booth at Madaket Plaza (at the foot of C Street in Eureka).
The Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center offers kayak, canoe, and stand up paddle board rentals and lessons, as well as offering group trips at reasonable prices. For more info, call 707-443-4222 or find them online.
Humboats, Kayak Zak’s, Pacific Outfitters, and Kayak Trinidad offer kayak and stand up paddle board rentals as well as tours of Humboldt Bay, Trinidad Bay, Stone Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and many beautiful local rivers.