For centuries, lovebirds have toured Venice's picturesque canals on gondola rides. And since 2006, couples have headed out onto the calm waters of Huntington Harbor aboard the same iconic Venetian boats, courtesy of Sunset Gondolas. To recreate the Italian experience as thoroughly as possible, the company's fleet is made up entirely of gondolas imported from Italy?and is the only company in Southern California with that distinction. Moreover, their gondoliers sport traditional striped shirt, and serenade passengers upon request. What's more, they're experts at their craft. Two of the boatswains have won the US Gondola Nationals for their skill in the authentic, 37-foot boats?Bepi, who won in 2012, and Stefano, who won in 2013.
Despite their prowess, however, the gondoliers often blend into the background during rides, letting the California scenery take center stage. From their seats, couples or convivial groups drink in views of the area's Venetian-style islands, canals, and bridges, all while snacking on picnic spreads and wine they brought along, or the chocolate-dipped strawberries provided in some packages. The gondoliers can tailor the rides to special occasions, too, including proposals and wedding ceremonies.
Atop Pirate Coast Paddle Co.’s fleet of standup paddleboards, guests glide over the placid inlets of Newport Beach Back Bay in scenic excursions. The paddleboards—which look like slightly larger, heavier surfboards—offer a sturdy enough base for guests to stand upright and propel themselves with a single oar, an action that exercises core muscles better than doing sit-ups with a porpoise on your chest.
Led by a staff of nautical guides, paddleboarding tours send clients into the orange horizon during sunset paddle outings and enjoy an ocean view of the stars during full-moon SUP parties. Pirate Coast also offers private, semi-private, and group lessons. During all excursions, Pirate Coast provides boards and necessary equipment rentals, letting clients worry about how to stave off scurvy while on the ocean.
Catalina Island may reside a mere 75 minutes from Newport Beach, but that's no reason why visitors shouldn't travel there in style. The Catalina Flyer allows them to do just that, accommodating as many as 600 passengers who spend their speedy journey relaxing on the sun decks, enjoying a drink in one of two full-service cocktail lounges, or gazing out the viewing windows and watching for migrating schools of sushi rice.
After disembarking in Avalon, visitors are encouraged to take advantage of Catalina Island's many shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities, which include everything from golf and ziplines to horseback riding, undersea tours, and even buffalo watching. Hotel accommodations facilitate overnight stays, ensuring that weekenders have ample time to enjoy the island before taking the afternoon voyage back to the mainland.
On a shimmering bay, a trained gondolier rows a happy couple along on a romantic evening. Having conferred with the gentleman before the trip, he slips a special message inside a bottle and discretely places it in the water. After turning the boat around, he asks the lady to retrieve the bottle that, unbeknownst to her, contains her marriage proposal. After tears of joy and a celebratory kiss, the engagement is confirmed, and the gondolier rows the lovebirds ashore.
This tale is not stolen from the pages of an Italian love story, but rather, it?s an unforgettable moment that Gondola Company of Newport helps make possible. A team of professionally trained gondoliers ferries guests through the bay and canals of Newport Beach, creating an intimate mood for special occasions, such as proposals, anniversaries, and birthdays.
Californians realize their nautical dreams at six harbors along the coast, thanks to the skilled guidance and boat rentals of Marina Sailing Newport Beach. The company's instructors?who are certified by the American Sailing Association or who are USCG licensed-captains?have been teaching people how to safely navigate Pacific waters since 1962. Whether looking to skipper a sloop-rigged keelboat, navigate the ocean by following celestial bodies and stalled spaceships, or just spend a few sunshine-filled hours on the water, fledgling sailors can find the proper training and equipment from Marina Sailing's crew. A fleet of more than 80 boats features convenient amenities such as marine barbecues, stereos, and hot showers.
A boat zips along through the water, trailing behind it an open parachute elevated to almost a quarter-mile in the air. This isn't a scene from a spy movie, but rather a scenic parasailing tour from California Parasail, whose lines can lift patrons up to 1,200 feet above the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. As parasailers relax into their harnesses and take in breathtaking panoramic views, they can also take comfort in knowing they're in safe hands??all captains hold a US Coast Guard license and all crew members adhere to the practices of the Water Sports Industry Association. They operate runs throughout Avalon and Catalina Island, as well as Balboa Island, Newport Beach, and Long Beach, allowing patrons to glimpse views of different coastal areas and befriend cumulus clouds with varying regional dialects.