Custom Scuba’s two boats aren’t typical leisure vessels—they’re inflatable boats, originally designed for Navy SEALS. And like Navy SEALS, the company’s captains use the boats to reach hidden channels and hard-to-access waterways. However, unlike Navy SEALS, their top priority is fun. With more than 10 years of experience each, the two captains helm snorkeling adventures, fishing trips, and sunset cruises that showcase the area’s natural beauty at sites often not visited by other companies. True to its company name, the team also offers scuba classes, teaching basic underwater skills and doling out dive certifications with a teaching motto of never rushing a student and always putting safety first and cannonball competitions last.
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.
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.
First String Sportfishing sails the open seas off of Southern California, taking passengers on both fishing voyages and educational marine tours. Its largest boat, First String, can hold up to 149 people for its whale-watching tours. On board the 93-foot boat, you’ll find two 9-ton fish holds, two radars, a large-screen television, and a dolphin-to-English dictionary. First String Sportfishing’s other boats depart for both Californian and Mexican waters on fishing excursions. These trips typically yield shallow-water rockfish such as Sculpin and Whitefish and larger varieties including yellowtail and barracuda.
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 where there are two distinct ecosystems. 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.
At Blue Pacific Boating, professional skippers boldly lead novice sailors across choppy waters in pursuit of sailing expertise. The two-hour introductory lesson, which is held aboard one of Blue Pacific’s new, midsize yachts, gives mildly salted sea dogs a hands-on introduction to the basics of sailing, including essential maneuvering techniques and the secret to keeping the wind out of your sails. Mounting the waves from the school’s Oxnard port, the captain and a crew of up to five will tour Channel Islands Beach, playing bumper boat with other vessels along the way and absorbing views of cavorting dolphins and roaring sea lions. Courses will be offered weekly, alternating between Sundays and Wednesdays.