Although he climbed the corporate ladder at a sprinter's pace in his young life, Kirk Robinson understood the only place he belonged was out on the ocean. He was known to his coworkers as a superior business mind⎯that is, when they actually managed to find him at his desk and not at the beach windsurfing. So, after reading The Road Less Traveled and Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, Kirk found the inspiration to start Captain Kirk's Inc. in 1992. He then quickly gathered a team that also possessed his passion for watersports, including his kiteboarding wife, Kitty, and set up shop.
Today he and his crew show others how to get the most out of the ocean through kiteboarding, windsurfing, and standup paddleboarding lessons. Additionally, Captain Kirk's retail includes all the supplies needed to master those three activities. Completing the trifecta, Kirk also owns CK's Beach Resort in La Ventana, where guests can bask in the beauty of aqua waters, a private beach, and luxurious lodging while experiencing everything from kiteboarding and standup paddleboarding to windsurfing, sportfishing, and scuba.
Jacques Cousteau had barely slipped the first scuba tank off his back when Pacific Wilderness opened its doors in 1953. Since then, the shop’s staffers have used their collective expertise to outfit divers with high-quality equipment from brands including Aqualung, Oceanic, Scubapro, Seaquest, and Zeagle.
They also teach PADI scuba-certification courses that range from basic open-water training to advanced rescue diving. Lessons start at the on-land facility's heated pool but progress to weekend-long dives in the waters of Redondo Beach. The shop's scuba-philes also arrange journeys to exotic locales such as the Sipadan Water Village Resort in Malaysia and the secret depths of Camp David's presidential bathtub.
At City Grounds, a team of riders and cycle mechanics promote eco-friendly transportation by offering equipment and services for urban cycling needs. Knowledgeable staffers constantly seek out innovative equipment and accessories from manufacturers around the globe, stocking digital odometers by Blackburn, chains by Kryptonite, and Lezyne CO2 cartridges to combat against glass shards on city streets. They can also fit customers with bicycles for several riding styles including BMX, mountain biking, cyclocross, and commuting. Besides bike nuts and bolts, City Grounds also attends to riders' style with a selection of bold graphic tees as well as sleek backpacks and bags by Chrome, Herschel, and Manhattan Portage.
The running shoe specialists at Runners High utilize a computerized foot-scanning machine to analyze arch patterns, weight distribution, and tickle zones in order to pair customers up with the right shoes. During 20–30-minute fitting sessions, customers stand on the scanner before running or walking in different pairs of shoes. Staffers can also examine wear patterns on the customer’s old sneakers to inform their suggestions. After analysis, Runners High can donate the used shoes to One World Running, an international program that promotes health, fitness, and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need around the world.
Helmed by a team of skate enthusiasts, Long Beach Skate is dedicated to preserving its neighborhood's skateboard culture. The warehouse space specializes only in skating gear and apparel. Its walls brim with colorful decks filled with images of geometric owls, vintage pinups, pop-culture figures, and strange monsters. The shelves are filled with DC and Adidas skate shoes, sweatshirts emblazoned with the store's logo, and useful skateboard accessories such as Penny wheels and giant pillows to help you stop. At the full-service, onsite maintenance center, technicians perform services ranging from board setup to repairs.
And yet Long Beach Skate's staff don't spend all their time in the shop—they also promote local skate-park development, and often materialize at skate-park gatherings to hand out gear and food. Their charitable programs have included clothing and shoe drives. In addition, they volunteer time and energy to organizations such as Action Sports Kids Foundation, Autism In Long Beach, and Maloof Money Cup's Skate and Donate program, which benefits people in South Africa.
Beyond Alamitos Bay, out into the blue Pacific, the waters swell with whitecaps and schools of fish. That's where Long Beach Marina Sportfishing's two boats can be found seven days a week. Lead by seasoned captains and anglers, they sail for half-day and three-quarter-day fishing trips. Buoyed atop the calm ocean with the seafloor far below, they cast baited hooks for sand bass, barracuda, and red snapper. You might also catch halibut and lure rockfish. For an even more picturesque adventure, the company launches twilight expeditions Wednesday through Sunday at 6:30 p.m.