About: Tides, Wind & Weather

Tides and Winds

Big River Estuary is 8.3 miles long during the highest tides, this makes it the 2nd longest in California. As the ocean rises and falls due to the moons gravity (and to a lesser extent the  suns gravity,) water spills into Big River and then recedes, with a directional switch in the flow about every 6 hours. The speed of the tidal flow is dependent on the difference between the high and low tides. A small difference yields a slow moving tide, while a big difference will  flow faster. The average difference or swing is about 5 feet which produces a current of  about 1.5 mph. Slow tides can be less than 1mph, while fast tides can approach 3mph. What  it all means is it’s usually best to contact us to find out the tidal conditions on the day you’d  like to paddle. Every day has it’s own tidal story which ranges from anytime is good to you should arrive at a specific time for the easiest experience.

 Wind is also a factor in ease of paddling. Mornings are less windy, while afternoons usually  see an increase. Prevailing winds are from the northwest creating a tailwind during the first  leg and a headwind during the return. Spring and summer typically have stronger wind than  fall and winter. Beyond the 2 mile point winds usually die down and the river becomes glassy.


Summer time highs range from about 60 to 75 degrees, while wintertime highs are usually in the fifties. The California rainy season is from November through April and rain may happen, but we remain open for those who don a rain jacket and want to get out on the water.

Other times of the year it may be foggy on the coast and clear upriver to the east. Hot tip—canoeing in the rain can be a magical experience!

Dress like an onion so you can peel off the layers when it warms up, or put them back on if it cools down. Fleece and a windbreaker works well. We loan out complimentary dry bags on request.

“Definitely something you should do while in the area. The people working there are very friendly and helpful. The canoe ride itself is amazing. Back where you will see little to no people on the river, it is beautiful and calm. 3 hours goes by fast so make sure to enjoy it. If you’re a photographer, you’re in luck. The water is so calm that you can easily take photos of wildlife or the river. I was able to take some great photos of some birds mid-flight, and even a seal. Reasonable prices for a great trip in a beautiful location..” — Joe S., Morgan Hill, CA