Boating and Watersports

The San Luis Obispo Bay offers some of the best recreational and water sport activities on the Central Coast. Plenty of water access, equipment rentals, and launching areas exist for your recreational pleasure.

Always use caution as ocean conditions can change quickly, and there are always hidden hazards. Harbor Patrol can be contacted at (805) 595-5435 or VHF 16 or 12. Call 911 for emergencies.


  • Check beach towers to see if lifeguards are on duty before entering the water.
  • Restrooms are available on Avila Beach and Olde Port Beach.
  • No alcohol is allowed on beaches.

Boating / Kayaking

  • Launch ramp available at Olde Port Beach.
    • The beach is for loading and unloading boats only.
    • Vehicles may not be left on the beach.
    • 4WD recommended - soft sand.
  • Be sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back.
  • Speed limit is 5 mph in mooring area.
  • Anchoring is allowed in designated areas.
  • "No Boating Areas" are designated by buoys.
  • All vessels must be properly registered.
  • Bring lifejackets, VHF radio, cell phone, flares, etc.

Some Boating laws

  • Vessels may not be operated in a reckless manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.
  • Speed limit is 5 mph within:
    • 100 ft of any swimmer, surf bather, diver, or wader.
    • 200 ft of any designated swim area or swimming beach.
    • 200 ft of the boat mooring area (round orange buoys), piers, vessels anchored or fishing.
  • Vessels may not enter the "No Boat" swim zones marked by white buoys off Olde Port Beach and Avila Beach.
  • No person under the age of 16 may operate a vessel.
  • No person may operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Vessels must be currently registered, display the required numbering, and carry proper safety equipment, including a United States Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher.
  • When towing a skier behind a vessel, the operator must have an additional observer on board who is at least 12 years old and have a ski flag.
  • Persons under the age of 12 years must wear a life jacket.
  • Know the rules of safe boating operation.
  • For more information on safe boating contact the United States Coast Guard.


  • Diving is allowed except in boat channels and near the piers.
  • Water temperature ranges from 53-63 degrees.
  • Visibility varies from 1-12 feet; very rare days can range from 25-40 feet.
  • Always use a dive flag.
  • Check local weather conditions and predictions.

Surfing / Swimming / Windsurfing

  • Check local weather conditions and predictions.
  • Remember to stay clear of the boat channels, mooring, and pier areas.
  • There is limited swell action in San Luis Bay.
  • Windsurfing is limited due to prevailing winds.

Personal Water Craft

  • The Harbor District, the United States Coast Guard, and the Sheriff’s Department promote safe boating. Public contacts, education and giving citations to boaters who violate the law are just some of the ways this is accomplished. Please obey the law and be courteous to others. Go slowly near shore and in congested areas. The link for the Pacific Division of the United States Coast Guard is here.

For more information on using our beaches or bay, please contact the Port San Luis Harbor Patrol at (805) 595-5435 or by VHF radio channel 16 or 12.