For more than 20 years, Channel Islands Outfitters's Paddle Sports Center has helped humans commune with nature through their guided expeditions, courses, and gear rentals. Their expert guides lead kayakers and hikers to California destinations such as Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island, where explorers enjoy picturesque scenery and native wildlife that haven’t yet learned about sarcasm. The outdoor fitness center also offers instruction for outdoorsmen ranging from courses that cultivate Wilderness First Responders to lessons in the art of standup paddleboarding. Meanwhile, their surf shop doles out aquatic equipment such as surfboards, paddleboards, and an array of kayaks that are available in single-seat or tandem models.
The U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captains of Marina Del Rey Parasailing harness the might of wind and water to send passengers of all ages and experience levels soaring above the blue on exhilarating parasail flights. To begin the ride, passengers strap in and are accompanied by up to two other flyers to share in the sky-scraping experience and challenge trios of seagulls to a sing-off. As the boat speeds up and the parachute gently fills with the ocean breeze, a sturdy towline extends to 800 feet to suspend parasailors 500 feet above the glittering surf. From the serene quiet of their towering vantage point, passengers catch spellbinding views of Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, with occasional sightings of dolphins, fishermen, and clouds marveling at sunbathers' similarity to teddy bears. As the captain reels the line back in and flights float to a close, newly minted cosmonauts step back on to the boat without the need to ever touch the water. Each 75-minute boat ride accommodates up to 15 fliers, allowing ample time for sea-level sights and victorious Titanic impressions at the boat helm.
Action Watersports' experienced instructors lead groups of seafaring paddlers on rolling adventures that buoy confidence and coordination. During each lesson, a wave maven and a fleet of up to five paddlers hit the frothy drink for roughly two hours of gliding above schools of fish and merpeople tea parties. Tap into core muscles to maintain balance and burgeoning biceps to propel you forward on the muscle-powered schooner. Lesson leaders structure courses to help boarders hone basic paddling techniques, so each pupil feels confident, water-worthy, and superior to aimlessly drifting seaweed. Swimming ability is recommended, and classes are available by appointment any day of the week, with 24 hours' notice, until July 1.
The rapids rock beneath the raft, pummeling the vessel like a boxer delivering uppercuts to a heavy bag. After successfully navigating the foamy surges, the paddlers hit an abrupt drop that tosses one adventurer out of the rear of the raft. He resurfaces, bobs in the water, and then presents a thumbs up, inciting cheers and laughter from his fellow rafters.
The guides at River's End Rafting & Adventure Company pride themselves on delivering fun and safe adrenaline-pumping adventures like these. Based about 15 minutes from downtown Bakersfield, the crew transports rafters to the mouth of Kern Canyon, then guides paddlers through Class II¬–III rapids before the river yawns into Lake Ming. In addition to whitewater rafting, the team at River's End also coordinates outings including kayaking, rock climbing, and paragliding over Ant Hill, a 100-foot-high skyscraper of luxury ant condos.
Owned and operated by its guides, Runoff River Adventures has attracted some of the best river navigators in the business. Each guide has personally traversed more than 200 rivers, whose collective currents criss-cross countries across the world. The aquatic experts wield this experience as they guide kayaking and rafting expeditions down courses that can pass through roiling rapids or stick to calmer areas, such as goldfish bowls. Instructors also helm paddling and rafting courses, which focus on oar work and the art of the lake roll and river roll. Once they have mastered the basics, adventurers can confidently sally forth for self-guided tours in inflatable or non-inflatable kayaks, rafts, and innertubes that function as both flotation devices and very large headbands.
In the warmer months, the runoff from the snowmelt on Mount Whitney combines with the flow of Kern River, creating a series of rapids that eventually give way to a placid lake. Kern River Rafting was created to give residents and visitors a chance to capitalize on the river's potential for fun and adventure.
A convenient shuttle service brings you to the river from the company's home base after you've been outfitted with helmets, life vests, and paddles. Tube-mounted excursions set out from the northerly reaches of the river and go barreling through rapids. Then a ferry brings crews back north for another ride or a jaunt in a Zorb globe. These 12-foot blow-up hamster balls allow those inside to run across water, performing amphibious feats that hamsters can only dream about.