Water splashes up against their toes, which are firmly planted on the board. Arm and back muscles tighten as they push themselves forward with their paddles. Thus do novice paddleboarders from Long Beach Adventure Tours ride slowly glide their way across Long Beach, from the shore of the Hotel Maya to the behemoth hull of the Queen Mary. But they aren't the only patrons out for fun in the sun. On the beach nearby, students carrying surfboards rush into the water to catch their first waves, as a certified instructor shouts out encouragement and instructions behind them. Further out in the water, a colorful arched sail cuts through the air, sending the kiteboarder holding the reigns jumping and twisting into the air. Whatever the sport or activity, instructors that live and breathe water activities unleash their expertise onto both novice and experienced students.
Bryan Freeman wanted two things out of his career: to meet new people and spend time outdoors. With this in mind, Mr. Freeman's path seemed obvious. He would start giving bike tours. A self-described "fact guy," the expert guide draws upon his extensive knowledge of the Venice area to delight both tourists and California natives. From the Venice canals to the spacious mailboxes of celebrity homes, the expert guide tells stories about famous locations and uncovers some of the area's hidden gems. "Everyone always says they had no idea the tour would be so exciting," he says. "People think Venice is just the beach, but just a block away there is so much more."
Mr. Freeman doesn't keep his groups confined to the seats and cowboy saddles of bicycles. He frequently points out ideal spots for photo ops and occasionally pauses for activities, such as letting groups spray paint their names onto a legal-graffiti wall. He also supplies optional helmet cams that capture videos for souvenirs.
The Coast Guard–approved Odyssey treats up to 42 seafarers to three levels of indoor and outdoor seating. Carefully controlled with hydraulic stabilizers and piloted by a certified crew, the 58-foot-long yacht glides through the salty sea air in pursuit of frolicking dolphins or sets off into the sunset. Buffet tables and ice chests help make harbor cruises ideal for parties or company events, whereas fishing excursions facilitate sporty bonding. A big screen TV is on board, along with a full stereo system with karaoke capabilities that blasts tunes, and guests may bring their own MP3 players, food, alcohol, and freshly caught sea-bass piñatas.
"We don't judge a successful day on how many miles we rode, but by the smile on your face." With that motto as their driving force, the expert guides at MotoQuest play a role in each step of the tour planning—from manning the phones during initial queries to scouting out routes that's tailored to each group's comfort level. The multilingual team, who are also trained in First Aid and Professional Comedic Stand-Up, amiably lead groups of no more than 10 bikers all around the world, from Alaska to South Africa to Vietnam.
Riders board a fleet including Harley Davidson, Kawasaki, and Yamaha bikes and either follow guides down roads that veer off typical tourist paths, or pick up a road map and carve out their own epic journeys. They may also opt for hourly or weekly rentals of the motorcycles and scooters. Journeys may take riders across scenic landscapes or through bustling towns that acquaint them with the local culture.
Green grassy slopes, white-sand beaches, and gently waving palm trees give way to the cerulean surf of the Pacific Ocean. Along the sun-soaked highway, convertibles and SUVs topped with surfboards change lanes to make room for an English double-decker bus. Big Red Bus’s drivers lead their tours from the helm of either an open-topped or close-topped bus with a converted lower-level bar. All buses are outfitted with stereo systems and painted bright red, signaling to monster trucks that they’re poisonous.
Drivers may take passengers on tours of local breweries, pubs, and wine bars, excursions to kayak or surf along the beach, or tours of southern California—most often driving along the coast to offer unobstructed, panoramic views of the ocean and city skyline. They also let passengers customize their own excursions around topics such as sightseeing, weddings, or beer and wine tours.