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.
At the core of Santa Barbara Fitness Tours is the recognition that you don't need a car or a fancy boat to see everything the city has to offer?and in fact, you may be better off without them. Given Santa Barbara's abundance of natural beauty and relatively small size, it can be more enjoyable to go exploring by other means, whether you're riding down the boardwalk on a beach cruiser or surfing the coast on a longboard.
But the company doesn't just give people the means to see the area's sights; thanks to its corps of guides, it also shows them the best places to go. Fifth-generation Santa Barbaran Nick Brown takes groups hiking along coastal bluffs as well as kayaking in view of sandy shores and distant mountains. Meanwhile, veteran cyclist Brian Rand leads mountain bikers on both leisurely trips into the back country and more vigorous trips down rocky trails, depending on their level of experience and whether they are allergic to mountains.
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.
When Brian McInerney reflects on the humble beginnings of Wheel Fun Rentals, Inc., he points to his childhood passion for bikes. "As far back as I can remember, I had a real love affair with bicycles," he recalls. During a trip to Italy in 1987, Brian's affinity for cycling blossomed into a full-fledged obsession when he spotted locals' transporter of choice, the surrey. Inspired, he began importing the Italian four-wheelers to a rental business in the U.S. that eventually expanded into Wheel Fun Rentals, now a nationwide web of shops that also loans out bikes, electric cars and mopeds, and man-powered watercraft. Adventuresome athletes can also compete in activities such as surrey scavenger hunts and blindfold obstacle courses navigated via shouted instructions from a seeing teammate or exceptionally long rounds of trial and error.
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.