Captain Frank has navigated Californian waters for more than 30 years, earning his 100-Ton Captain's license in 1980 and consequently became the youngest person to do so at the time. After working for the next 19 years chartering boats and educating students aboard the Channel Islands Marine Floating Lab, he purchased the 85-foot Ranger 85, the very ship he worked on as a teenager. Along with a sister vessel, the Coral Sea, Captain Frank helms his Ranger 85 to carry visitors on scenic tours around Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary, allowing them to glimpse rare species of animals and stretches of untamed Californian landscapes. On some trips, passengers may even occasionally spot up to five different types of whales. He also embarks on private charters and bookings for groups or special occasions, such as corporate events or graduation parties for the family harbor seal.
For nearly half a century, Channel Islands Harbor's crews have ferried groups through the waters between the Channel Islands to angle for halibut, white sea bass, and other gilled creatures with resounding success. Guests have caught fish of record-breaking size: In 2011, one passenger reeled in a California halibut that weighed more than 67 pounds. Groups depart for day trips or stay overnight aboard boats with galleys and bunks, and can buy fishing tackles and bait directly from the company rather than by setting earthworm traps in their neighbors' lawns.
Channel Islands Sportfishing's crew also ventures out on whale watching excursions to catch glimpses of gray whales, dolphins, seals, and other wildlife. Children are always welcome aboard the company's fleet, which includes 13 vessels.
The rising sun bathes the expanse of turquoise water in a golden glow, and a lone figure breaks its still surface during her morning swim. So begins another day at the Ventura Aquatic Center, where meticulously maintained facilities and engaging programs coax swimmers of all ages into the refreshing depths. A 50-meter competition pool fields the backstrokes of lane swimmers, and a 25-meter recreation pool enables laid-back play sessions. Delighted squeals and giggles drift from the kids’ activity pool, where splashes of water keep little faces smiling and a pair of water slides facilitates high-speed entries. Throughout each day, a crew of American Red Cross–certified lifeguards patrols the premises to ensure the safety of all those frolicking in and around the pools.
Dedicated to educating and entertaining patrons, Ventura Aquatic Center’s seasoned instructors also host group and private swim lessons and water-safety classes. Synchronized-swimming lessons teach pupils the art of tandem movement, and lifeguard training prepares would-be rescuers for real-world rescue situations. Diving and water-polo teams unite players for in-pool athletics, and aquatic summer camps stave off the boredom and nostalgic re-readings of last year’s report cards inherent to the summer months.
Though little known to humans outside of Ventura, Hook's Landing's sailors are notoriously feared in the sea world. That's due in large part to their successful fishing charters, on which they bag hundreds of rockfish, dozens of whitefish, and multiple lobsters with a crew of tour-goers.The charter's guests can keep any legal-size lobster, crab, and fish they find in their professional-grade hoop nets. Hook's Landing snaps memorable shots of the day's catches and encourages guests to cook their catch, instead of nailing it to a board and trying to make it sing.
After dedicating seven years to helping novice mariners tame the local waters, SailTime Channel Islands' original owners hung up their sailing hats and bequeathed their company to Jon and Nicole Trautman. A devoted seafarer since age 10, Jon jumped at the chance to share his high-seas enthusiasm with others via sailing lessons aboard the company’s squadron of midsize, offshore cruising yachts. Now, along with obtaining their American Sailing Association certifications, trainees can learn the ropes of keelboating, coastal cruising, and nymph saddling before renting a 33- or 36-foot Hunter boat for their own nautical escapades. Members pay monthly rates for unlimited use of their vessel and can hoist anchor for all-day or overnight journeys. Those eager for a dinghy of their own can investigate SailTime Channel Islands' ownership plan, which ensures a vessel free of cannonball holes and mutinous crew members.
Rising like an ivory and adobe mirage amid the towering hills of Southern California, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa curates recreation and relaxation across stately grounds that date back to 1923. Guests can trade forehand hits on one of the resort's four lighted tennis courts or hunt for birdies across the acclaimed 18-hole golf course that has hosted seven Senior PGA Tour events and welcomed rarefied guests such as Bob Hope, Will Smith, and the mashie niblick from a bygone era.
Massage therapists and aestheticians tend to weary travelers at the resort's sprawling spa, which instills tranquil thoughts with everything from plush massage beds to the ornately patterned tiles in the Kuyam chamber room dedicated to mud- and clay-mask treatments.
Locally sourced produce and herbs harvested from the inn's garden are infused into dishes at the inn’s restaurants, which feature both indoor and outdoor dining experiences. The resort also encompasses 308 guest rooms that embody the rustic refinement of Spanish colonial style for those looking for a relaxing weekend or a romantic getaway with their beloved tennis racket.