The waters around Marina del Rey teem with seasonal gamefish. Beneath the ocean's surface, halibut, sand bass, and barracuda swim from Rocky Point to the Big Kelp Reef. That is, until they cross paths with The Betty-O, Spitfire, or the New Del Mar?the fishing boats of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing's fleet. Aboard these vessels, experienced guides help small and large groups cast lines and pull prize catches from the water.
But sometimes, the ocean's beauty makes anglers put down their fishing poles. Sea lions, dolphins, sea birds, and several whale species also make their home in the water. This diversity of wildlife prompted the owners of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing to start their whale and eco tour, during which sightseers can admire the ocean's majestic creatures and the teams of Aquamen who groom them.
The U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captains of Marina Del Rey Parasailing harness the might of wind and water to send passengers of all ages and experience levels soaring above the blue on exhilarating parasail flights. To begin the ride, passengers strap in and are accompanied by up to two other flyers to share in the sky-scraping experience and challenge trios of seagulls to a sing-off. As the boat speeds up and the parachute gently fills with the ocean breeze, a sturdy towline extends to 800 feet to suspend parasailors 500 feet above the glittering surf. From the serene quiet of their towering vantage point, passengers catch spellbinding views of Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, with occasional sightings of dolphins, fishermen, and clouds marveling at sunbathers' similarity to teddy bears. As the captain reels the line back in and flights float to a close, newly minted cosmonauts step back on to the boat without the need to ever touch the water. Each 75-minute boat ride accommodates up to 15 fliers, allowing ample time for sea-level sights and victorious Titanic impressions at the boat helm.
Action Watersports' experienced instructors lead groups of seafaring paddlers on rolling adventures that buoy confidence and coordination. During each lesson, a wave maven and a fleet of up to five paddlers hit the frothy drink for roughly two hours of gliding above schools of fish and merpeople tea parties. Tap into core muscles to maintain balance and burgeoning biceps to propel you forward on the muscle-powered schooner. Lesson leaders structure courses to help boarders hone basic paddling techniques, so each pupil feels confident, water-worthy, and superior to aimlessly drifting seaweed. Swimming ability is recommended, and classes are available by appointment any day of the week, with 24 hours' notice, until July 1.
Staff Size: 1 person
Average Duration of Services: 2?4 hours
Pro Tip: Dress in layers. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and all the food and drinks you want.
Handicap Accessible: No
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Two-hour day sail watching for dolphins
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Q&A with Captain Larry, Owner/Operator
Apart from your business's main attraction, do you offer any "hidden" services or activities that visitors are always delighted to learn about?
Sailing on Santa Monica Bay is peaceful, quiet, and a great way to work on that tan! Sea life, such as dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, and sometimes even whales, can be spotted during the sail. If the weather is hot enough and the wind is light, we can stop the boat and go for a swim.
What special training do you or your staff have?
A sailor since the age of 10, Captain Larry is USCG-licensed captain with more than 20 years of chartering experience in the Caribbean, Sea of Cortez, and on the West Coast.
What?s your favorite part of your job?
Showing my guests a great time on the water, telling them sea stories, and seeing the smiles on their faces.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Most people don't get seasick, since the Nirvana has a very smooth ride and Santa Monica Bay is usually very calm. Because the medication makes you sleepy, if you don't know you get seasick, take a chance. Otherwise take a pill.
A fresh harbor breeze passes through the annual MarinaFest, where sailing aficionados and experts gather each spring to celebrate the boating lifestyle and the joys that trail in its wake. Throughout the two-day event, interactive attractions glean the attention of all ages, ranging from a standup paddleboarding clinic to free scuba-diving lessons in a fully equipped dive pool. As a variety of educational seminars dispense maritime knowledge, the lineup of activities includes special appearances from the Bill of Rights—a replica 19th-century schooner that sailed through New York Harbor during America's bicentennial—and teenager Abby Sunderland, who nearly became the youngest person to ever sail solo around the globe. Between eyeing the halyards and learning semaphore to communicate with mermaid figureheads, attendees can also skim through the products from a variety of exhibitors, showcasing everything from yachts to boating accessories, electronics, and watersports equipment.
A yacht that goes by the name of First Star that was voted one of the favorites of Cruising World magazine. A captain who goes by the name of Matthew Mancini, who loves introducing people to sailing. An array of islands that go by the names of Catalina, Santa Barbara, Anacapa, and San Miguel. Put all of these elements together and you have Old Plank Sailing Adventures. Old Plank Sailing Adventures' Captain Matthew Mancini corrals visitors aboard a luxury yacht and then whisks them on various adventures throughout the sparkling waters.
The sailor keeps guests closer to home on jaunts around Marina del Rey's picturesque harbor or leads them on multiday adventures to nearby islands. He also captains dinner cruises, whale watching expeditions, and moonlight sails in Santa Monica Bay, where all the fish are named Monica.