It’s not hot and humid (thankfully!), and there definitely aren’t any piranhas (thankfully!)—but Mendocino’s Big River is a distant California cousin of the Amazon. Explore it on an artisan canoe. This isn’t your big green plastic summer camp canoe. These handcrafted outriggers are fashioned from reclaimed virgin redwood and offer a ride that’s smooth, steady, swift, and fun! (Bonus: even the dog can come along; ask for the “canine cruiser.”) Rent your outrigger from Catch a Canoe & Bicycles, Too!, where the good folks will let you know the best tide-tuned times to paddle out and back. The 8-mile Big River estuary invites the quiet exploration of a wide tree-lined oasis with resident river otters. However near or far you choose to go, the canoe’s outrigger and push-pedal rudder will make steering a breeze. Bring a picnic to enjoy and stay awhile—you’ll definitely want to savor this boat float.
Catch a Canoe & Bicycles, Too!, Hwy. 1 and Comptche Ukiah Rd., Mendocino; (707) 937-0273. Canoe rental rate is $28 per person for three hours. Guided tours are also available. Ask about their new delivery of outriggers, called the Canine Mini, expected to arrive before Labor Day. It’s small and light and designed for 2 or 3 people or 2 people and a dog. Dog-friendly!