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 colorful hand and footholds that dot the sharply angled cliffs, overhangs, and arches at Santa Barbara Rock Gym almost beg visitors to climb them. The more than 8,500 square feet of climbable space, designed by El Dorado Climbing Walls, feature enough varied routes and ominous Viking runes to challenge climbers of all ability levels. This range of terrain and attention to detail is essential?the facility is Santa Barbara's only dedicated indoor rock-climbing gym.
Owner Will Russ, a former surfing photographer from Houston, created this space to bring the rocky wilderness indoors and foster a sense of adventure among climbers in a controlled environment. His instructors, each certified by the Climbing Wall Association, teach classes introducing basic belaying and sport-lead techniques. They also delve into the advanced skills required for bouldering and training mountain goats to fetch dropped carabiners.
It's not all about adrenaline at 4Points Expeditions?although the group's backpacking, kayaking, and stand-up-paddleboard excursions are quite thrilling. The team of experienced adventurers here cares as much about safety as it does about the outdoors, which is why it keeps trained EMTs and Wilderness First Responders among its ranks. The team members share their knowledge of CPR and first aid during detailed classes, whose past students have included members of the National Park Service. When they're not doling out lifesaving tips, the guides are leading groups through California's most beautiful natural treasures in Ojai, Ventura and Malibu.
Scenes of learning and enjoyment spark infectious enthusiasm among Channel Islands Kayak Center's guides, who thrive on bringing adventurers up close to the wildlife of Channel Islands Harbor and Ventura Harbor. The team furnishes independent explorers with kayak rentals, which include safety briefings so kayakers can tell the difference between a sea lion and an actual lion.
From dawn to dusk, Hopper Boat Rentals fleet of small, maneuverable crafts weave past the sailboats and houseboats docked in the tree-lined Channel Islands Harbor. Though the compact vessels are easy to master, Hopper Boat Rentals’ aquatic experts still happily help customers suit up in provided lifejackets and then impart a brief tutorial on operating their vessel of choice. They then rent out their watercraft by the hour, allowing customers the freedom to enjoy a quick jaunt or a daylong quest to overthrow surrounding sandcastle fiefdoms.
Situated along Surfrider Beach and across the street from the famous Malibu Pier, Malibu Surf Shack has been a destination for ocean activities since it first opened its doors in 1972. Crashing waves and surfboard migratory patterns lure instructors to the point-break beach. Here, the pros teach small classes how to shred and duck atop waves. Students can rent boards and other watercraft including kayaks and standup paddleboards to join in on the fun.
Inside the retail shop, boards from brands such as Walden and McTavish await their next wave-riding excursions. Malibu Surf Shack's staff demos all of the new and used gear, letting customers try boards or take them to a romantic dinner before making long-term commitments.