Each year, a shadowy group of witches and warlocks creates a fun and frightful scene when they take over Morro Bay, California, the weekend before Halloween . Local professional photographer Danna Joy Dykstra-Coy witnessed the event and memorialized the 2019 scene with these amazing photographs.

The annual Witch’s Paddle at Morro Bay, California. Photo © Danna Joy Dykstra-Coy

“We started the Witch’s Paddle event in 2013 to celebrate Halloween,” says Annette Ausseresses, one of the original witch paddlers. “Since then, we’ve seen the idea really take off, and now there are Witch’s and Warlock’s Paddles happening from coast to coast.”

The Halloween fun is even better now that it has an altruistic aspect. “We decided to add a donation component to this year’s event and get the public involved,” says Ausseresses. Canned goods and/or cash donations were collected at the Witch’s Paddle by the Food Bank of San Luis Obispo County, a network of community partners dedicated to alleviating hunger in San Luis Obispo County and building a healthier community.

Solo witch in the harbor of Morro Bay. Photo ©Danna Joy Dykstra-Coy

The public is invited to join in the paddle or to watch the floating coven in the harbor. (Please note that there’s no instruction, lifeguards, or supervision at the event. Participants are encouraged to follow Coast Guard requirements for personal flotation devices, and each person is responsible for providing their own equipment and costume.) For board rentals, contact Morro Bay Stand Up Paddleboarding, which can make sure all scary participants are fitted with the most suitable board.

Explore Morro Bay by Foot, Car, or Broomstick

Located along coastal Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County just south of Big Sur—and midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco—Morro Bay offers activities that range from ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, and bird watching, to kite flying, shopping, dining, wine bars, local craft brews and miles of unspoiled beaches.

This active, seaside fishing village has a bustling waterfront and offers a fun and funky getaway for travelers who seek great wine, seafood, and outdoor adventures.

Morro Bay is famous for massive Morro Rock, named “El Morro” (Spanish for “crown-shaped hill”) by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542.

Witches paddle near Morro Rock to raise money for the local food bank. Photo ©Danna Joy Dykstra-Coy

Morro Rock is so prominent that it’s been dubbed the “Gibraltar of the Pacific.” It’s a State Historic Landmark, bird sanctuary, and home to nesting peregrine falcons.

The rock itself is the last of a line of long-extinct volcanoes, which include nine peaks, called the Nine Sisters, ranging from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay.

Morro Bay’s charm and mild Mediterranean climate offer an idyllic coastal escape great for kayaking, surfing stand-up paddling, hiking, camping, and more, so bring your broom and join the fun.

For more information on things to do and see in Morro Bay, visit www.morrobay.org.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer, editor, and writing coach

Floating flock of witches on Morro Bay. Photo © Danna Joy Dykstra-Coy


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