Steve's Paddling Page

Avila Beach

Avila beach is just a few miles up the coast from Shell Beach in San Luis Obispo County, CA. Avila has a unique recent history in that the entire small town and beach front were closed down due to ground pollution from the Unocal oil company. The whole place was dug up, de-contaminated and re-built. The residents worked long and hard to procure a settlement from Unocal. Now, it is a wonderful family destination, with a fishing pier, nice beach, kayak rentals, restrooms, picnic areas, golf course and playground. Your family can hang on the beach and/or boogie board while the paddlers can leave from the beach and take a leisurely paddle around the pier, over to Port San Luis, or longer trips up or down the coast for rock garden and cove exploring. 

During a recent paddle there (Sept. 1, 2001), I was surprised by a pair of dolphins who surfaced several feet off my port side.

 Everyone on the water, the beach, and the pier was treated to the sight of tens of thousands of birds who circled clock-wise over a large school of bait fish, sometimes turning the water white with diving and feeding. The bird/fish dance moved like a twister over the water, at times including awe-struck paddlers into the circle. Humbled again.

Shark update-

Yes, this is where a swimmer was killed by a great white in August, 2003. The available food supply (and relative safety) for marine mammals in this area means that there are many seals and sea lions, which in turn makes it a preferred hunting ground for the whites. Our hearts go out to the family of the woman whose commune with nature turned disastrous.

back to Steve's Paddling Page