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Water-based Activities in Long Beach vc_spotlightlongbeach_module1_waterfrontactivities_st_rf_884301394_1280x640
Ron Thomas/Getty Images

Water-based Activities in Long Beach

Water-based Activities in Long Beach vca_maps_losangeles_9
Water-based Activities in Long Beach
Take advantage of the city’s shoreline and unique waterways with these fun water activities

With more than 11 miles of sandy shorelines and sparkling bays, Long Beach is the perfect place to enjoy time both in and on the water. From stand-up paddleboards to yachts, and harbour cruises to romantic gondola rides, Long Beach offers water-based activities for everyone.

Family-friendly beaches

Thanks to a protective breakwater built by the US Navy during the Second World War, Long Beach’s sandy shores are a great choice for families. Protected from major waves and without riptides, shorelines such as Alamitos Beach, Marine Park (aka Mother’s Beach) and Belmont Shore Beach provide plenty of space for sunbathing or sand-castle building and calm waters for families with small children to enjoy the beach without the worry of dangerous seas.

Water sports and tours

Always wanted to learn how to kite surf? The same breakwater that makes the shoreline safe for little ones also makes Long Beach’s Belmont Shores one of the best places for beginners to get the hang of the sport. Try out a 90-minute discovery lesson withSoCal Kitesurfing or jump into a three-hour group lesson with Captain Kirks.  Visitors can also rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, Aqua bikes, Duffy electric boats, and other watercraft at Rainbow Marina.

If being on the water is more your thing, a guided 45-minute harbour tour from Harbor Breeze Cruises will help you get your bearings and learn about the history and marine life of the Long Beach coast. Or choose one of their three-hour whale-watching tours. Look for grey whales between December and April, the mighty blue whales from June to October, and an endless supply of dolphins, sea lions and other marine life all year. Book online for the best deal. Looking for something even fancier? Charter a yacht through the Harbor Yacht Club or Pacific Sailing for a day or overnight trip to Catalina Island.

Also along the waterfront, sign up for the annual Aquarium of the Pacific 5K in October to run (or walk) past Rainbow Harbor and Queensway Bridge on a flat, scenic course. Bonus: All participants get a $5 voucher for admission to the aquarium.

Romantic getaway

For a little romance on your visit, take a Venetian gondola ride with Gondola Getaway. The one-hour gondola rides take groups of two to six passengers through the canals of Naples with views of million-dollar homes, luxurious yachts and the bridges that arch over the canals. Pack your own nibbles and wine to enjoy on the boat (they’ll provide glasses and an ice bucket!) or book a Brunch or Pizza Cruise. Larger groups visiting for weddings and other events can hire multiple boats at once or the larger 'Carolina' that holds up to 15 people. If you’re lucky, you might even be serenaded by your gondolier.

Getting around town

The Long Beach waterways are also a great way to get around the city without getting in your car. From Rainbow Harbor, visitors can hop on the Aquabus, a 49-passenger boat that travels between Rainbow Harbor, the Queen Mary, Hotel Maya and the Catalina Landing, or the AquaLink, a 79-passenger high-speed catamaran that travels between Rainbow Harbor, the Queen Mary, Vet’s Pier and Alamitos Bay.

Water-based Activities in Long Beach vc_spotlightlongbeach_hero_longbeach_st_rf_168810310_1280x640
Ron Thomas/Getty Images

Spotlight: Long Beach

Just half an hour from Los Angeles, Long Beach is a beachfront gem you’ll want to add to your California itinerary. It offers beautiful beaches and marinas along with a busy dining and shopping scene that perfectly blends big city sophistication with beach town fun.

Tour the Queen Mary, the legendary, permanently docked ocean liner or relax with a drink in the ship’s Observation Bar—for truly unique accommodations, you can even stay overnight in one of the ship’s staterooms or suites. Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, Southern California’s largest aquarium and home to playful sea otters, Magellanic penguins, and a 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat, which holds thousands of colourful fish, coral, sea turtles, and sharks.

Looking for some retail therapy instead? Shop designer favorites at Pike Outlets or search for the perfect retro finds at the vintage boutiques along Long Beach’s Fourth Street. Or try your hand at kitesurfing on Long Beach’s Belmont Shores, one of the best places in the state for beginners to learn the sport thanks to the protective breakwater that blocks major waves.

Above all, enjoy eating your way through the city’s culinary delights from the classic waterfront Parkers’ Lighthouse in Shoreline Village to the modern SteelCraft, an urban eatery in Bixby Knolls, to the rooftop Sky Room, an Art Deco bar and dining room, 14 stories atop the Breakers Hotel in downtown Long Beach. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend, a family reunion destination, or just a getaway with the kids, Long Beach has the food, fun, and sun for your perfect next Southern California trip. 

–Kate Bayless