Photos by Annie Merkley
A a sure-fire cure for the summertime blues is to get out on the ocean. Luckily for us, Long Beach is a veritable water wonderland. Take advantage of what our urban oasis by the sea has to offer. Here are 5 ways to get out on the water. so kick those summertime blues to the curb and let the cool pacific breeze coax a smile to your face.
RIDE THE AQUALINK
The aqualink is an easy and accessible way to get a quick fix of sea breeze in your hair. The boats’ brazen color combo of purple, red and yellow makes it hard to miss as it glides around the harbor. Fare is only $5 each way and there are 2-for-1 coupons in local publications like the Grunion Gazette and Destinations Magazine. Up to six bikes are permitted on board and wheelchair access is available at dock four by the Aquarium of the Pacific, at the Queen Mary, and at Belmont Pier.
The friendly and informative catamaran crew made the 15-minute jaunt a mini-trip to be remembered. They have a full bar and my friend and I grabbed a can of Corona for the journey from Shoreline Village back to Belmont Pier. The trip was quick, so we had to chug! For a longer ride, we could have parked at Alamitos Landing and gone the full length of the route.
RENT A KAYAK
The Kayak Rentals in Belmont shore boasts that Alamitos Bay is “The best kept secret between Los angeles and Orange County.” It is a user-friendly waterway with light boat traffic and attractive views. Renting a kayak is a cheap and fun way to get a bit of exercise while taking in the sights of the Naples canals and surrounding area. Pretty much the only prerequisite is that you have to know how to swim. It’s $9 an hour cash or $10 an hour credit card.
I went out with a couple of friends who have their own tandem raft. I arrived at the rental hut directly after a swarm of two dozen children and their supervisors. I feared it would take ages to get through the line, however I was amazed at how well the staff got the large group organized. They got me signed up and on my way lickety-split.
I paddled out with the sun on my shoulders, the movement of the kayak under my command, the blood running though my veins, and the salty breeze keeping me from over-heating. In that moment, I wished I could do this every day!
RENT A BAY BOAT
Pelican Joe’s Bay Boat rental is a wonderful way to cruise around Alamitos Bay in the comfort and quiet of an electric boat. It’s best to get a group together to split the cost—Monday through Friday, $70 an hour, Saturday and Sunday, $85 an hour. The 18-foot Duffy fits up to eight and has a table in the center that is great for a spread of delightful snacks. Bring some bubbly and putter around the bay in a relaxing and intimate atmosphere with friends or family. Pelican Joe’s offer an auxiliary cord so you can set the mood and turn up your music player by plugging into the boats’ speakers.
I went out with a gaggle of girls, four of my friends and I enjoyed our afternoon entirely. We went to Jellyfish Cove and saw a couple of moon-jellies floating in the aqua green water. We toured the rest of Alamitos Bay, which was easily traversed in the two-hour time of our duffy rental.
TAKE A SPORTFISHING TRIP
Deep sea fishing is not for the delicate or demure. Here is a real way to test your endurance on the open ocean, try out your sea legs and immunity to motion sickness–I recommend taking Bonine, it makes you less drowsy than Dramamine. Pierpoint Landing, located directly behind the aquarium, offers a variety of times and durations of departures.
My friend and I decided to take the So-Cal vessel’s 12:30PM half-day trip. We got there early to secure our spot and to get our gear. We each paid $40 for the boat, $10 for rod rentals and got a day-fishing license for just under $15. The costs add up quick, but I found out about a Groupon for the So-cal after our outing for only $24.
The boat went out past the port with its cranes and colorful cargo containers stacked like Legos, and anchored at a middle point between Long Beach and Catalina. The deep blue hue of the sea had an enchanting quality, and the surface—adorned with white tips from the wind—glittered in the sun.
We were fishing for sculpin, a fish that lives at the bottom of the ocean that’s part of the scorpionfish family furbished with stingers. We were told to call for a deckhand who could take the fish expertly off the hook.
I caught five fish—the maximum amount that’s permitted in a day—thanks to helpful hints from a friendly deckhand. The crew was amazing, super-chill and attentive. They even baited our lines, and fileted our catch on our way back to land—for a dollar a fish.
The six-hour excursion on a bare-bones boat with scant seating was a little exhausting for this non-seafaring gal. however, I loved it, and there is something so very gratifying about eating fish that you’ve caught, a primal fulfillment, a return to the wild. I look forward to taking advantage of the Groupon offer. Next time, I’ll be sure to apply the appropriate amount of sunscreen for the day. I acquired a super un-sexy neck- burn, and I even got blisters on the tops of my ears.
TAKE A GONDOLA GETAWAY
The Gondola Getaway is the most pricey and kitschy of the means to appreciate the waterways of the Naples canals. Just around the bend from the kayak rentals on “horney corner,” the Gondola Getaway offers free corkage and a cooler with ice for the hour-long adventure. For $85 an hour for one couple, plus a recommended $20 tip to the gondolier, it ain’t cheap. however, if you are looking to get a little closer to your date, it’s tradition to kiss under each of the five bridges of Naples. This is a clever ap- proach if you are in the pursuit of getting your smooch on.
My boyfriend and I went out on a sunny sunday afternoon. Our gondolier was nice and informative; he even sang an old Irish ditty as he gracefully guided us through the canals. The long thin wooden boat creaked with the serene sound of the water gently lapping against its bow. It was a romance-infused outing, however at the cost, it’s best to keep this in the back pocket for special occasions.