Epic voyaging need not be reserved for classical heroes who speak in dactylic hexameter. Just as Odysseus slayed the hurricane from aboard his inflatable raft, you too can conquer vengeful waters with today's Groupon to Gold Rush Whitewater Rafting. For just $50, you'll go on a heart-pumping, rapid-raging tour of the South Fork of the American River (44% off a $90 value).
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.
A fresh harbor breeze passes through the annual MarinaFest, where sailing aficionados and experts gather each spring to celebrate the boating lifestyle and the joys that trail in its wake. Throughout the two-day event, interactive attractions glean the attention of all ages, ranging from a standup paddleboarding clinic to free scuba-diving lessons in a fully equipped dive pool. As a variety of educational seminars dispense maritime knowledge, the lineup of activities includes special appearances from the Bill of Rights—a replica 19th-century schooner that sailed through New York Harbor during America's bicentennial—and teenager Abby Sunderland, who nearly became the youngest person to ever sail solo around the globe. Between eyeing the halyards and learning semaphore to communicate with mermaid figureheads, attendees can also skim through the products from a variety of exhibitors, showcasing everything from yachts to boating accessories, electronics, and watersports equipment.
Owned and operated by a trio of ASA-certified sailing instructors who have each been doused with the waters of France, England, and California, Open Sailing, Inc. trains and equips students for piloting the open sea. Open Sailing also boasts a collection of apparel, safety equipment, and compasses. The Gill Race collection outfits sailors with apparel such as the men's midlayer soft-shell smock ($89), whose lightweight fabric and water-repellent finish keeps torsos agile and dry, and the padded hiking shorts ($40), with 50+ UV protection, stretch fabric, and impact protection for hiking the rail during one of Poseidon's infamous temper tantrums.
Marina del Rey Boat Rentals lets fun-seekers explore the Santa Monica coastline at their own pace with a fleet of reliable vessels. Kayakers paddle through leisurely cruises past multi-million-dollar yachts and penthouses in a single-seat craft for two hours, a two-seater for one hour, or two single-seat kayaks for one hour to practice synchronized sailing routines. Any adult with a drivers’ license can take up to eight passengers for a meandering jaunt around the harbor on a Duffy electric boat, outfitted with AM/FM radio, portable music-player connection, and a dining table perfect for light lunches or divvying up bullion. Customers with previous boating experience can rent a sleek powerboat to turn heads at mermaid prom with the hum of 40- to 75-horsepower engines beneath comfy seats and bow cushions. Marina del Rey Rentals provides all riders with flotation vests to guarantee a safe and secure excursion.
The waters around Marina del Rey teem with seasonal gamefish. Beneath the ocean's surface, halibut, sand bass, and barracuda swim from Rocky Point to the Big Kelp Reef. That is, until they cross paths with The Betty-O, Spitfire, or the New Del Mar—the fishing boats of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing's fleet. Aboard these vessels, experienced guides help small and large groups cast lines and pull prize catches from the water.
But sometimes, the ocean's beauty makes anglers put down their fishing poles. Sea lions, dolphins, sea birds, and several whale species also make their home in the water. This diversity of wildlife prompted the owners of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing to start their whale and eco tour, during which sightseers can admire the ocean's majestic creatures and the teams of Aquamen who groom them.
The US 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 passengers, with nonflying observers welcome for a $20 fee if space permits, allowing ample time for sea-level sights and victorious Titanic impressions at the boat helm.