Whether you want to go 26 miles across the sea, learn more about what lives in it or simply would like to glide through the canals of Naples with something to gnosh, Long Beach has a lot of outfits providing a lot of boats for a lot of occasions and destinations. Bon voyage!
Southern California’s premiere whale watching company, Harbor Breeze Cruises (100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2), has a fleet of state-of-the-art, luxury catamarans with stadium seating for exceptional viewing. Their daily 2 to 2.5-hour cruises are conducted by captains with decades of experience in locating whales, orcas, dolphins and harbor seals. Once located, the crew and an Aquarium of the Pacific marine mammal educator will provide information and context while fielding your questions. Typically, blue whale sightings are most common in May through October, while gray whales can be seen making their annual migration from November to May. Humpback, fin and minke whales are seen year-round. The company also offers a 45-minute harbor tour that will not only give you some history but one-of-a-kind views of the Long Beach skyline and Queen Mary.
Duffy Boat Rentals
There are multiple options to rent a Duffy boat in Long Beach. London Boat Rentals (186 N. Marina Dr. #4601) makes it easy for you to skipper your own boat around Alamitos Bay and through the Naples canals. Their 21-foot Duffy electric vessels accommodate eight people and cruise at a speed of five miles an hour; it’s kind of like driving a golf cart, except you’re not upset about being in the water. Easy to navigate, you’ll be given a quick tutorial on using the boat and where to take it. Duffys come with life vests–including smaller sizes for kids–and a radio with a CD player. Pets are not only allowed on the boats but encouraged, plus there’s free popcorn! Speaking of eats, the company's website has a list of restaurants that, with a call 48 hours prior to your reservation, will deliver food and refreshments to the dock for you to take on your trip.
If you want to go full vacation mode and have someone do the work for you, Boathouse on the Bay (190 N. Marina Dr.) offers Duffy boat rentals complete with a captain to steer you around Alamitos Bay. They've got great in-boat meal options you can order in advance, too.
With more than 40 years experience, Catalina Express (320 Golden Shore) offers up to 30 round trips daily from three different ports–Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point. The Long Beach landing, located near Shoreline Village and the Aquarium of the Pacific, is home to high-speed vessels that can make the roughly 30 mile channel crossing in about an hour. You have the option of riding inside or outside on the deck as you take the Express to Avalon, the island’s main town, or to the smaller Two Harbors, both being great entry points for all the activities the island offers, everything from hiking and biking, snorkeling and fishing, spa days and kicking back at a beach club. Whatever it is, Catalina Express will get you there, fast.
Cruise the Coast
The aquatic service of Long Beach Transit, AquaLink provides a novel, fun connection between Shoreline Village and the restaurants of Alamitos Bay. Operational every weekend (Friday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) a one-way fare costs $5. You’ll need exact change if you’re paying with cash. You can get aboard the AquaLink –available on a first-come basis – at Alamitos Bay Landing Berth 3, next to Boathouse on the Bay, or at Dock 4 in Rainbow Harbor next to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Your trip will take about 40 minutes, and the AquaLink is outfitted with snacks and a full bar to enjoy as you make your way to brunch, lunch or dinner. They will run daily between Memorial and Labor Days.