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.
Enthusiastic instructors at OEX Sunset Beach invite beginning and experienced adventurers into the cerulean waters of the Pacific Ocean. The outpost is an offshoot of the original OEX center in La Jolla, which began as a kayaking and freediving center but has since branched out to include standup paddleboarding and poker tournaments with local sea bass. Staff members happily help guests get fitted with the perfect-size gear and lend basic safety tips before their expeditions over and under the blue bay waters.
"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.
Big Red Bus serves a diverse menu of sightseeing tours on English-style, double-decker buses. Celebrate the season on the Waterfront Tour of Lights, which wanders along the beachfront and grants guests sparkling views of decorated, multimillion-dollar homes and the floating Christmas trees of Alamitos Bay while holiday music plays and Santa applies his sleigh-steering skills to the wheel. The tour includes a stop at the Pike Ferris Wheel, where you can circle skyward for a better view of downtown and The Queen Mary.
Patrons of Pelican Joe's Bay Boat Rentals don the captain’s hat and man the wood-paneled dash of 18-foot and 21-foot Duffy boats. Professional mariners show renters how to steer and remind them not to pick up hitchhiking penguins before vessels set sail on the waters of Alamitos Bay or waltz along the canals of Naples. Waterproof speakers blast music from iPods plugged into docking stations, and insulated coolers keep beverages cold as passengers fold back awnings to bask in the sun or relax in the shade of the 18-foot boat's canvas surrey top. Pelican Joe's Bay Boat Rentals outfits its floating lounges with complimentary ice and picnic linens and can also provide platters of gourmet snacks for guests to nibble while gathering the courage to toss diamond-heavy necklaces into the waves.