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Adventures by the Sea is owner Frank Knight’s love letter to Monterey Bay. As an avid cyclist, kayaker, and surfer in his youth, Frank decided to share the gift of the bay by providing land- and sea-activity rentals for tourists. But, what started out as a small bike-rental shop frequented by local hotel guests eventually transformed into a four-location recreational company that now offers kayaking, bicycling, SUP paddling, and surrey-carriage rentals and tours.
Bicycle renters can cruise along 17-Mile Drive and the rocky shorelines of Pacific Grove, while surrey-carriage rentals provide a low-key communal pedaling adventure for up to four riders. Patrons can also enjoy the serene environment of Monterey Peninsula as they glide through the waters of Cannery Row and Stillwater Cove—both part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary—on the company’s kayaks and standup paddleboards (SUP). During tours, knowledgeable guides rattle off facts about the area while pointing out its wildlife, such as harbor seals lounging on the rocks and otters snapping pictures of kayakers.
Along with providing land and water activities, Adventures by the Sea helps guests build stronger relationships with one another through their local group adventures, which include scavenger hunts. When customers are ready to invest in their own trustworthy gear, the company’s pro shop helps them stock up on boogie boards, snorkeling equipment, and paddleboards from brands such as Surftech, Naish Hawaii, and Paddle Surf Hawaii.
A family-run enterprise since 1949, Randy's Fishing Trips and Whale Watching takes marine mammal enthusiasts on a sailing excursion around Monterey Bay, where whales often hang out and swap favorite krill recipes. Either Captain Brent or Brian, both certified skippers with masters licenses from the United States Coast Guard, will narrate the aquatic wildlife tour of the bay. Gentle humpback whales are the feature attraction from May–November, and sailors from December–April can become acquainted with the gray whales that have migrated from Alaska. Marine biology buffs may spot several other fascinating ocean organisms, such as killer whales, sea otters, silver-finned raccoons, dolphins, octo-gorillas, and seals. If your trip ends without spotting a whale, you'll receive a free ticket for another expedition.
The folks at Kayak Connection outfit visitors with sea kayaks and standup paddleboards before leading them on guided tours or sending them out to explore Santa Cruz Harbor and Elkhorn Slough on their own. Tours vary from romantic sunset paddles to trips designed for families and include one tailored to getting glimpses of local birds. Intermediate and advanced paddlers can head out onto open waters to paddle past the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, and Monterey Bay Crossing.
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Today's Groupon rents you a way to see the world without using your walkingwheels or automolegs. For $30, you can float or pedal with $60 worth of boat and bike rentals at Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center and Café. Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center provides equipment to explore Shoreline Lake, a safe and scenic waterway that was built for sporting on the doorstep of sunny Mountain View.
The experienced staffers at H2O Craft Rentals tend a fleet of fully equipped patio boats, Yamaha jet-skis, ski boats, and XCR series fishing boats. Each craft comes equipped with amenities that suit its purpose, with patio boats featuring with barbecues for grilling the day's catch and fishing boats bearing a fish finder to garner an advantage in games of Marco Polo. Customers can launch right from the marina or take advantage of the tow-and-go service and load vessels onto a trailer to ferry to a different body of water. This service enables boaters to cruise a range of area waters, whether coasting across the California Delta, Don Pedro Lake, and Lake Camanche, or plumbing the waters of Lake Tahoe for mackinaw trout and salmon.
The party-loving minds behind Yacht Party Cruises wanted a creative way for locals and tourists to explore a city's late-night atmosphere. Eventually they launched a fleet of luxury yachts into the waters of eight of North America's most lively urban waterfronts. On each vessel, festivities abound as DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Sinatra, inviting passengers to shake a leg in between trips to the full bar or buffet lined with hot appetizers. All yachts boast extravagant details such as wraparound decks, fireplaces, or a glass atrium that hangs above the dance floor offering dancers a direct view of the man in the moon's game of solitaire. Guests can also step onto the decks for fresh air or panoramic views of city's skyline.
Red and White Fleet?s inaugural launch in 1892 came courtesy of founder Thomas Crowley, a 17-year-old seafarer whose vision has since spawned one of the Bay Area?s most sought-after guided sightsees. The placid shores of Fisherman?s Wharf host a bobbing quartet of wave-riding vessels, each crewed by a savvy staff of sailors versed in the Bay?s stunning maritime marvels, including rock seals, easily recognized by their Dee Snider wigs and Flying V guitars.
Other tours with Red and White Fleet include the Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise, which sails beneath the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges, its iconic red-and-white boats dwarfed by the imposing structures. Passengers can venture onto the open-air deck to take in unobstructed views of the skyline, or gaze through large windows within indoor cabins furnished with plush seating and a full-service bar. A host of other tours is available; click here to view the full schedule.
With its impenetrable fog, gusty wind, and rough currents, San Francisco Bay is known the world over as one of the most challenging places to sail. It's for this very reason that the San Francisco Sailing Company's Sailing School has set up shop here: "If you can sail the San Francisco Bay," they declare on their website, "you [can] sail anywhere in the world." The seasoned instructors instill what they know thoroughly and quickly. In fact, after completing just two two-day classes, students at the school earn their ASA certification and the confidence to sail the Bay on their own. The school offers loftier training, as well, providing the know-how needed to charter a multiday cruise on a big boat or navigate out on the open water.
Since 1978, the experienced captains at Rendezvous Charters have staged picturesque pirouettes through San Francisco Bay waters aboard a fleet of vessels, including two schooners, two yachts, and a slew of motor yachts. The seafaring specialists welcome passengers for cash-bar cruises aboard the Bay Lady, a custom-built schooner that accommodates up to 77 passengers and boasts a cockpit big enough to seat 56 people or 30 pandas with sailor caps. Rendezvous Charters also works with clients to plan private chartered cruises and team-building events for businesses and recreational groups.
Elkhorn Yacht Club Youth Sailing Foundation has educated fleets of aquatic explorers in the nuances of sailing along the picturesque Monterey Bay for more than half a century. During three-hour introductory lessons, certified instructors lead students through the fundamentals of wind-powered boating, covering everything from safety procedures to tying knots around the ankles of pirates. After a series of land drills, students and their sailing sensei embark upon the calm waters of the harbor to test learned skills, including trimming the jib, reading the weather's Twitter feed, and confidently handling their simply rigged Lido 14 skiffs.
When Forest Roberts was 9 years old, he built a boat in his backyard with money saved from his paper route. Since 1989, Roberts has participated more officially in the maritime industry, working water-related jobs from commercial diving to boat building?and often living aboard boats?before opening his sailing-charter company in 2006. Today, California Classic Sail operates from Santa Cruz on the shores of Monterey Bay, earning praises from previous passengers and a Santa Cruz Sentinel feature story.
Roberts?s background in the building industry helped him recognize the superb craftsmanship in his current yacht, Sarah. The builder, William Garvie?who named the vessel after his granddaughter?constructed the 52-foot-long boat based on a line drawing published in an early 20th-century yachting-magazine spread. Made of wood instead of the fiberglass many modern boats are made of, its vintage style and wood hull set it apart from other Santa Cruz charter vessels. Dubbed a ?Sharpie? for its long, narrow shape, rather than an ability to leave permanent wakes, the graceful yacht zips through the bay waters on chartered trips for groups of up to six. Passengers can relax onboard as Roberts steers, or choose to learn basic sailing maneuvers through hands-on instruction. Roberts can also tailor trips to special occasions such as engagements and birthdays, and can sail during many times of day, including more-scenic mornings and sunsets.
If you want to learn how to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer, then you can take a course at any sailing school. But if you want to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer who also knows how to get a boat to move faster than a rumor travels around a knitting circle, you might want to consider taking a sailing course from Nautic Sailing School's instructors.
Captain Dan, who has been sailing for more than 40 years, races various types of boats, and he owns a Catalina 30 that carried him to victory during the 2004 and 2009 Catalina 30 Nationals. He works alongside Captain George, who has also raced sailboats, and Captain Robert, a published sailing educator and race tactician who has trained more than 3,500 sailing instructors worldwide.
They lead everything from six-hour Discover Sailing lessons, which introduce complete beginners to the sport, to basic and bareboat cruising courses. Those who take those three- and four-day courses may even qualify to crew with Nautic Sailing School on special occasions.
A morning photo cruise powered by gentle sunlight and mellow breezes. A spirited afternoon jaunt toward the Golden Gate Bridge. A late-spring sunset trip over waters reflecting the city's skyline and the warm hues of the horizon. No matter the time of day, the waving sails of Afterguard Sailing Academy's vessels ferry passengers on adventures around the sun-kissed waters and iconic landmarks of San Francisco Bay.
Thanks to the academy's team of seasoned captains, tours are only one way to experience sailing's thrills. Their instructors also teach comprehensive American Sailing Association certification courses, which aim to transition ordinary passengers to crew members and skippers for more independent sailing adventures of all types. As students progress, instructors teach more advanced lessons, such as bay basics and ocean sailing. Aside from these lessons, the captains also run a nonprofit sailing academy for youth.
Richard Bothwell has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, scaled Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, and surfed the waves of four continents. But perhaps his greatest feat was establishing the Outdoor Adventure Club in 1996, where he leads others in conquering nature's challenges. He and a staff of seasoned outdoors enthusiasts escort visitors of all fitness and experience levels in local excursions and international vacations, all centered on exploring the great outdoors. On the local level, the guides lead rock-climbing classes at Castle Rock State Park in addition to hiking, backpacking, whitewater-rafting, kayaking, and skydiving excursions. International adventure vacations expose folks to surfing in Costa Rica, rafting in Patagonia, and mountaineering in Peru. The expeditions marry the camaraderie of a social club with the expertise of professional guides, who are each trained in emergency wilderness care in case of squirrel attacks.
Whether you want to sip a glass of chardonnay at a family-owned, boutique winery or to stand next to a 600-year-old redwood in Muir Woods, Extranomical Tours can make it happen. And the tour company’s smaller vehicles—minibuses and 13- to 15-passenger shuttle vans—render the journey a more intimate, flexible experience. What began as a single van and one man's determination to showcase the Bay Area to friends and tourists has grown into a fleet that leads acclaimed tours across northern California. Dawn Cuthbertson of the Huffington Post went on the Wine Country and Redwoods Escape tour, one of the company's many offerings "Get your camera ready as you wander through the fog-drenched forest," she suggested to future visitors, describing the "hundreds of shades of green" visible in the cool, emerald forests.
The company trains its guides individually, regularly testing them on local knowledge and tidbits such as how long it takes the fire department to rescue a cat from a giant sequoia. The team also offers tours of Alcatraz, Monterey, and Carmel, as well as ferry- or boat-based adventures and walking or biking tours.