Oceanfront Oasis: Activities Along Santa Barbara's Waterfront

Santa Barbara's coastline is beautiful and lively. It's a great place for visitors and locals to enjoy various coastal activities. You can take peaceful beach walks, try fun water sports, and explore the area's culture. Whether you want to go kayaking, visit historic sites, or dine on fresh seafood with ocean views, Santa Barbara's waterfront has something for every traveler. Let's explore the best ways to experience this amazing part of California's coast.

Santa Barbara Beaches

Santa Barbara's popular beaches, like East Beach, West Beach, and Butterfly Beach, are great for a day of sunbathing, beach volleyball, and picnicking. East Beach has wide sandy shores and lively volleyball courts, making it a favorite for both locals and tourists. Located near the harbor, West Beach is perfect for a relaxing day by the water, while Butterfly Beach offers stunning ocean views and a more peaceful atmosphere. Whether you want to play volleyball or soak up the sun, these beaches offer the perfect setting for a memorable day out.

Stern’s Warf

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara is the oldest working wharf in California. It's located at the end of State Street and extends into the Pacific Ocean, providing panoramic views of the coastline and Santa Ynez Mountains. Visitors can browse unique shops, enjoy food at charming restaurants, and visit the Sea Center, an interactive marine museum. Its relaxed atmosphere makes it perfect for leisurely strolls and enjoying beautiful sunsets. Stearns Wharf is a must-visit for anyone exploring Santa Barbara due to its history, natural beauty, and diverse attractions.

Surfing & Paddleboarding

Santa Barbara is a great place for surfing and paddleboarding. There are spots for all skill levels. The consistent waves and beautiful scenery make it an ideal destination for water sports. Surfing hotspots like Rincon Point and Campus Point near UC Santa Barbara attract surfers from all over. Paddleboarding is also popular, with calm waters in the Santa Barbara Harbor and the protected coves of the Channel Islands providing ideal conditions. East Beach is a favorite spot for paddleboarders due to its gentle waves and beautiful views. Local outfitters offer rentals and guided tours for both surfing and paddleboarding, making it easy for visitors to explore the area. Whether you're riding the waves or gliding over the water, Santa Barbara's diverse water activities and scenic beauty make it a top destination for enthusiasts.

Sailing & Boating

Santa Barbara is great for sailing and boating, with its beautiful coastline and good weather. Whether you're new to sailing or have experience, you'll find plenty of options. The harbor has yacht clubs, sailing schools, and charter services. You can rent sailboats or join guided tours to explore the Channel Islands, known for their beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

If you're into boating, you can choose from powerboat rentals to luxury yacht charters. The calm waters around Santa Barbara are perfect for leisurely cruises, fishing trips, and watching whales, dolphins, and sea lions. Whether you're sailing along the coastline or enjoying a sunset cruise, Santa Barbara offers diverse and memorable boating experiences for an unforgettable day on the water.

Whale Watching

Whale watching in Santa Barbara is exceptional, especially in the Santa Barbara Channel. From late December to mid-April, migrating gray whales pass by on their journey from Alaska to Baja California. During summer and fall, majestic blue whales and playful humpback whales are commonly seen feeding in the area. Several local companies offer whale-watching tours departing from Santa Barbara Harbor, providing educational insights into marine life and the channel's ecosystem. Tours range from a couple of hours to half-day trips, with comfortable seating and observation decks for optimal viewing. Alongside whales, sightings often include dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds, promising an unforgettable wildlife experience for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.


Fishing in Santa Barbara offers opportunities for both offshore and nearshore. Anglers can target a variety of species, including rockfish, halibut, calico bass, and yellowtail. Popular spots include the Santa Barbara Harbor, Stearns Wharf, and local piers such as Goleta Pier. Offshore, fishing charters provide access to deeper waters, where enthusiasts can pursue larger game fish like tuna and marlin. Whether you prefer shore fishing or heading out on a boat, Santa Barbara provides ample opportunities for both novice and experienced anglers alike.


Kayaking in Santa Barbara offers an amazing way to discover the coastline's beauty. You can paddle through calm waters near Stearns Wharf and along East Beach, enjoying views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and perhaps spotting marine life like seals and dolphins. Local companies provide kayak rentals and guided tours for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Popular routes include exploring sea caves around Channel Islands National Park, where you can find remote beaches and clear waters. Whether you seek a serene paddle or an adventurous expedition, Santa Barbara's kayaking opportunities are sure to delight outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.

Book your Santa Barbara Vacation Rental

Santa Barbara's waterfront activities offer a mix of relaxation and adventure that's hard to resist. You can kayak along the calm coastline, take whale watching tours, or simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings. After a day of exploring by the sea, picture yourself returning to a cozy vacation rental where you can relax and talk about the day's adventures. Whether you prefer a beachfront cottage or a stylish downtown apartment, booking a Santa Barbara vacation rental ensures you have a comfortable retreat during your stay. So, start planning your getaway today and experience the beauty of Santa Barbara's waterfront firsthand.