26 Oct Local Profile: Vincent Shay with Avila Beach Paddlesports
Anybody looking for a little adventure off the shores of Avila Beach doesn’t have to stray far before finding Vincent Shay at his local rental outfit, Avila Beach Paddlesports. Wandering into his small brick and mortar in Port San Luis, more often than not patrons will run into Vince himself.
(Hint: he’s the one with the shaggy blonde hair and perpetually upbeat and friendly attitude.)
Vince is the kinda guy that will always stop and wave hello, even during peak season when everything is crazy busy. Take a peek around the back of the building early in the morning and you’ll find their fleet of sea kayaks waiting for excited vacationers to get out on the water as Vince and his team readies the shop for the day’s tours.
Avila Paddlesports, however, hasn’t always been a bustling institution. The business started much like the rest of Avila beach: with humble beginnings.
Vincent was previously a photographer working on a variety of pursuits and his wife, Emily, was (and still is) an educator. Both from the Central Coast, they grew up on the water and have decades of experience in water sports. Vince was even a competitive kayaker once when! In 2009 they decided, as many do, to share their passion for water sports by starting a business, focusing on kayak and paddleboard tours and rentals.
In the beginning, they started with 8 kayaks and a side hustle selling refreshments on the beach. As the small-town started to grow into a popular tourist destination, so did their business. Then in 2012, the whales came.
Nature is a shifting entity, and in 2012 the sardines came in strikingly close to the shores of Avila Beach. This brought in the humpback whales and a whole lot of buzz for the tiny town. In 2015 the whales came back, inspiring Vincent to combine his two talents; he grabbed his camera and jumped in a kayak. In a kayak, as opposed to a larger fishing or sailing vessel, Vincent was able to capture up-close-and-personal images of the whales that helped foster more interest in both the animals and the area as a whole. His images of the whales have been featured in local galleries and you can see his work up close and personal inside the shop. Vincent’s images are also featured throughout Avila Beach Guide.
Vince’s personal closeness with sea life inspires him to help maintain the beaches and the surrounding aquatic environment. With the relatively recent influx of tourists comes also their trash. As the vacationers leave, locals take it upon themselves to pick up after beachgoers. In an effort to help keep the beaches and the water pristine for generations to come, Vincent offers a 10% discount to paddlers that bring in trash from their excursions.
Today, Avila Paddlesports employs a friendly staff of experienced water professionals, maintaining a company-wide focus of safety first, followed by good times. As the area continues to grow it begs the question, what’s next? While Vincent and Emily aren’t planning on franchising any time soon, they are thinking outside the box about more services to offer clients. Think blow-up paddle boards to take with you, or peddle and paddle packages.
Whether you’re experienced, fearless, a beginner or even a child (as long as they can swim), Avila Beach Paddlesports has an adventure waiting.
Learn more about booking your Avila Beach activities with Avila Beach Paddlesports.