Our Story

Family-owned and operated. Serving the Central Coast since 2009.


Meet Vince and Em!

Vincent and Emily Shay are the local husband and wife team who owns and operates Avila Beach Paddlesports. They grew up exploring the waters of the Central Coast and have decades of local ocean expertise. They have dedicated the last 10 years of their life to creating the best experience possible for locals and visitors alike.

Vince has spent his entire life on, under, or near water. He combined his love of surfing and ocean kayaking and began surf kayaking in the early 2000’s. Vince became a competitive surf kayaker and competed on the world champion US National Surf Kayak Team. Vince knew that surf kayaks could be designed better, so he began working with Murky Waters Kayaks a company located in Canada, to design a series of surf kayaks. Vince has designed and collaborated on the designs of 7 surf kayaks and is now working on downwind SUP foil designs.

In addition to competing and designing, Vince has been a Central Coast ocean kayak guide for almost 20 years. In the last 10 years, Vince has also branched out into paddleboarding. He loves getting out into rough, open ocean for “downwinding,” and he has even paddleboarded from Morro Bay to Avila Beach (over 23 miles) multiple times! Vince’s enthusiasm is legendary and he loves nothing more than the satisfaction of guiding others on the ocean.

Emily grew up surfing all over the Central Coast and enjoys sharing her love of the ocean with others. Emily graduated from Cal Poly SLO with a degree in English and later completed her Master’s Degree in Education. Emily loves teaching and her passion is working with at-risk youth. Emily has taught in a variety of settings, including public high schools, alternative charter schools, and at the California Conservation Corps. She never planned on becoming a small business owner, but when the opportunity to start Avila Beach Paddlesports presented itself in 2009, Emily said, “why the heck not? It’s go time!”


Avila Beach Paddlesports

When Vince and Emily decided to start Avila Beach Paddlesports, their goal was to create a friendly neighborhood paddling shop that was warm and welcoming to the public. Avila Beach and Port San Luis Harbor is a unique area because it is naturally sheltered from the large ocean swells and strong winds that are common on the rest of the Central Coast. There are plenty of opportunities for experienced paddlers to be challenged, but there are also sheltered routes that are perfect for beginners and families with kids. Wildlife is abundant, the weather is sunny and warm, and there is even a public beach access for the Point San Luis Lighthouse. This is why Vince and Em knew Port San Luis would be the perfect spot in San Luis Obispo County to open Avila Beach Paddlesports.

Avila Beach Paddlesports is a favorite of locals and visitors who return year after year. Being involved with the community and promoting responsible eco tourism is at the heart of operations. Vince, Emily, and their staff go above and beyond to teach customers about safer kayaking and paddleboarding, coastal stewardship, and responsible wildlife viewing. Avila Beach Paddlesports works closely with local harbor patrol to make sure guests stay safe. They also work with wildlife management and rescue agencies to make sure wildlife stays healthy and protected.

Avila Beach Paddlesports started off with only 8 kayaks and 5 paddleboards and 2 employees: Vince and Em. Today, it is one of the biggest outfitters on the Central Coast with enough kayaks and SUPs for over 120 people. During the busy season, Avila Beach Paddlesports employs between 10-15 crew members (AKA the SuperCrew). The SuperCrew consists of highly-trained watermen and waterwomen. They are ocean ambassadors who love sharing their “stoke” with customers. Whether it is helping customers with kayak and SUP rentals or guiding customers on an adventure tour, the SuperCrew makes sure all customers get the attention they need to have the best experience ever.


Vincent Shay Photography

Even when he is on the water, Vince often has his camera in hand. He is an award-winning photographer and videographer. He specializes in local wildlife and scenic photography. His photos of local sea otters and visiting Humpback Whales have gained a lot of buzz over the last few years. Vince loves taking photos of all life, abstract patterns, and ocean movement.

Vince is a self-taught artist who started his journey with a Nikon FA. Before starting Avila Beach Paddlesports, he owned a small media company that focused on action sports photography and documentary filmmaking. He has been involved with projects all over the world and his work has been highlighted in SUP the Mag, Patagonia promotions, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, Kayak Sessions, DEEP Magazine, and “Killing Memories” documentary film.

Vince’s local photography is very popular and his work is on display and available for purchase at Avila Beach Paddlesports. To see more of Vince’s amazing photos and to keep up to date on anything exciting that is happening on the ocean in Avila, be sure to follow him on Instagram @vincentshayphotography. You can also visit his website www.VincentShayPhotography.com. His prints are available for purchase and custom orders are always welcome.