Blue Water Ventures owner and naturalist Kim Powell and her trained staff of naturalists lead adventurous groups on tours of trails and waterways from the East Bay of California to Monterey's Elkhorn Slough, exploring caves, forests, and wildlife-rich areas on the way. On protected Elkhorn Slough, groups of up to 22 make their way on stable kayaks as their attentive tour guides give rich history of the area and point out wildlife including seals and sea otters. In Florida's Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, groups snorkel and canoe to observe wild west indian manatees and their notorious poker habits.
The company also does specialty tours for school groups that include tide-pooling adventures and trekking through a redwood forest to see some of the country's oldest trees. Tours for women-only groups include private cruises where ladies can spy whales and a variety of seaborne wildlife, including fish, dolphins, and long-lost swim fins.
Pristine fairways gently rise and fall across 6,664 yards of undulating terrain at Pajaro Valley Golf Club's 18-hole course. Located a mere Goliath's drive from the Pacific Ocean, golfers can smell the crisp sea air and hear the hushed whispers of heist-planning pelicans throughout the picturesque par 72, once the verdant kingdom of 1930s golf legend Olin Dutra. The club’s E-Z-Go golf carts ferry about the arsenal of woods and irons needed to triumph over the transition from shorter par 3s and 4s to the lengthy fairways at the 1st, 4th, 15th, and 17th holes, all par 5.
After looping the horticultural haven, golfers can retreat to the club's full-service restaurant, where frothy beers and hamburgers refuel weary bodies and famished 9-irons. Spiky-shoed journeymen can place their order ahead of time at the 9th or 18th tees, ensuring their meal will be ready for them at the turn or shortly after the round.
Dave Bruno School of Golf's trio of talented teachers enhances stances and spruces swings with in-depth one-on-one how-tos. Each golf guru targets the lesson to the player's skill level, whether they need a comprehensive overview of golfing basics or focused refinement of their long game, short game, putting, or fending off of were-caddies during full moons. Each lesson comes with an equipment evaluation to ensure golfers have the appropriate gear to suit their physique and playing style, sparing newbies the frustration of trying to escape a sand trap with a plastic wiffle bat.
Practice is only beneficial if a player is disciplined. In other words, sloppy practice produces sloppy performance on the course, while true gains are only realized by concerted effort and repetition. The same goes for practice facilities: lots of experience hitting off of dirt or putting on shag carpeting isn't going to do much good when it comes to playing on a well-tended course.
Recognizing this, Pacific Golf Centers tends to its 9.5 acres with the same precision and care as would an exclusive country club. It keeps its 15 grass tees laser leveled at 5/16" and equips 17 of its 43 synthetic tees with TrackTee monitors, which provide immediate feedback on shot parameters such as ball speed and overall distance. Three putting greens, meanwhile, let players get their fill of practice rolls and no-look chips, and teaching pro Bruce Vieira is always ready to step in when players are in need of some extra help. Once hooks have been straightened and iron accuracy calibrated, players should head into the Tap House for a well-deserved beer while enjoying sports programming on HD televisions.
Helping guests feel comfortable is Body Zone Health & Fitness Club's main concern. The center has a variety of checks in place to make sure that new customers are given the guidance they need to get the most out of the gym. To help them, personal trainers are paired with newcomers during their first month of membership, working together to figure out what each guest's body needs. Once oriented, guests can work out on their own or in a group, choosing from a lengthy list of group fitness classes that range from total body conditioning, salsa, fit after 50, and stress-reduction yoga classes. To make sure that current members are also taken care of, Body Zone offers a variety of amenities such as childcare, massage, and nutrition.
Since his first run-in with Brazilian jujitsu at age 7, Claudio França has been busy. Now a fifth-degree black belt, he's spent more than 30 years mentoring MMA competitors, winning multiple championships, and hosting the annual U.S. Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament in Santa Cruz. He also teaches classes at three eponymous dojos with the help of fellow black belts. Training sessions teach groups how to execute BJJ's signature ground-fighting techniques and instill in individuals the keys to becoming a part of the martial-arts community.
Claudio's classes mix advanced students with total beginners, enabling the new arrivals to learn from more than one person, while regulars hone their coaching chops. The environment is family friendly, as well: there are programs for kids as young as 4, youth classes, and both women-only and co-ed adult lessons.