Experience the Delta by water

By Melissa Hutsell
The California Delta is home to more than 1,000 miles of waterways, which extend from the Pacific Ocean to the Central Valley. As the only inland delta in the world, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the delta is legendary among nature lovers, boaters, fishermen and watersport fans. This exceptional resource is found in our backyards (for some of us, quite literally), and there are many ways to experience it by water or by land.

The delta is world famous, and regularly attracts interest from the international community, said Bill Wells, executive director of the California Delta Chambers and Visitor’s Bureau. The chamber often receives inquiries from as far away as Sweden and Australia.

The chamber was established in 1969 as a nonprofit, which acts as an umbrella organization for the businesses and communities along the waterways, said Wells. There are approximately 225 member businesses, which span across five counties.

The delta is, in part, renowned for its water-based activities, which are done year-round.

“The delta is 1,000 miles of adventure. You can do every thing from stand-up paddle boarding, to wind surfing, kite surfing, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, power boating, waterskiing, and fishing […]” Wells said.

There are several locations along these waterways that offer prime conditions for water sports. Discovery Bay, for example, is a hotbed for water skiers, and attracts world-class athletes. Mildred Island is another popular spot for wakeboarding, and waterskiing.

Other great locations for water activities include Bishop Cut, the Sacramento River, and White Slough, according to the Delta Chamber’s website, which provides detailed information on these sites and more.

Windsurfing buffs claim that the delta is home to one of the top windsurfing sites in the world. This section runs from Rio Vista, downstream on the Sacramento River to lower Sherman Island.

You don’t have to be an expert to get on the water. Facilities, such as Delta Watersports and Windsurf Co., or Discovery Bay Wakeboard and Water Ski School, offer lessons for all skill levels.

In terms of boating, said Wells, it’s about the best place to go. The waterways are scenic and expansive, “[…] It appeals to every kind of boater. It’s safer than venturing into the open ocean but much more interesting than any lake in California,” Wells added, “You can cruise from Stockton to Sacramento and even into the Bay and visit San Francisco and towns around there.”

However you decide to experience the delta, there are many companies that provide training and rental equipment in addition to tours and cruises (see below for a brief list of regional resources).

But, it isn’t necessary to be on the water to experience the delta either, explained Wells.

“The delta is certainly water oriented but you can fish from the banks and drive around the region. There are plenty of wineries and museums as well as restaurants […] to visit.” There are also campgrounds, parks, hiking trails and wildlife reserves.

Ashore, of course, there are festivals and events, such as The Delta Blue Festival and the Taste of the Delta, as well as fireworks over the water and holiday boat parades.

The delta and its communities are rich in recreational resources. Check out the list below for an adventure on the water or shores this summer.

For more information, including a business directory and event calendar, visit CaliforniaDelta.org.

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