Best SoCal Summer Activities
Credit: Joseph Barber Photography

Float On! 10 Ways to Spend a Day on the Water in SoCal

When Beach Days Get Too Basic, Opt for These On-the-Water Excursions

Sunny days spent on the sand are a weekend ritual, but afternoons spent on the water are just as magical! Grab a swimsuit and text the squad about these exclusively SoCal ways to stay afloat all season long. In the immortal words of The Lonely Island, we’re on a boat—and also drinking on a floating tiki bar, Jet Skiing with dolphins and hot-tubbing at sea. There’s no doubt these 10 water activities are worth adding to your summer bucket list.

All aboard!

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Boat Cinema

Credit: Boat Cinema

Movies in the park will never be the same after you experience cinema on the water. When day becomes dusk, Casita Lake transforms into a magical summer theater. Imagine a youth camp with a luxurious twist. Take to the lake on an electric boat and anchor up when the movie starts. Movie nights call for pizza, which are delivered to your boat by canoe. Catch the classics—like “Jurassic Park” (Aug. 18) and “Pirates of the Caribbean” (Aug. 20)—before summer ends.

Location: Val Verde

 

Vision Electric Boats

Credit: Joseph Barber Photography

There’s only one way to cruise in Newport, and that’s in style! Glide along four miles of shoreline in a sleek electric boat from Vision Electric’s selection of eye-catching vessels. You can choose from soothing teal, hot-rod red, vintage yellow and this season’s most popular color, pink! It’s the perfect girls’ day out, and all you’ll need is a bottle of prosecco and some pizza to-go from Skål. If you’re looking to make this a regular outing, Vision Electric Boats offers monthly memberships through their Boat Club!

Location: Newport Beach

 

Newport Beach Tikis

Best SoCal Summer Activities
Credit: Cindy O’Shea

What’s better than floating through Newport on a boat? On a boat that’s a bar, that’s what! Cue the tropical tunes and set afloat for a 90-minute tiki cruise. Certified captains take the wheel so you and five friends can keep pouring the piña coladas. Beach tiki boats are shaded by grass skirt umbrellas, each equipped with a cooler, ice, water and soda. Bring your own coconut rum and cocktail accouterments. And if you get hungry, dock and dine at Newport’s waterfront restaurants. While leis are not included, they are highly encouraged!

Location: Newport Beach 

 

SoCal Paddle Yoga

A day on the water is a grounding experience. Now imagine taking a yoga class on the water. Goat yoga is so last season; now paddleboard yoga is the it-way to restore yourself. Classes are held on Newport’s Back Bay, Dana Point Harbor and Lake Mission Viejo, where the sun tends to break early and the water is calm. Group classes are designed for all levels or book a private session for custom flows. Trade the mirrored studio for panoramic lake views during your next series of sun salutations. Namaste!

Location: Newport Back Bay, Dana Point, Mission Viejo 

 

La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

La Jolla Sea Caves
Credit: La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

Float your boat through La Jolla’s turquoise waters and uncharted caves. On 90-minute excursions, sea caves brimming with life are yours to discover. From rocky bluffs to kelp forests that are home to marine fish and playful seals, cave tours showcase the magnificent flora and fauna of San Diego. Tours start with a lesson on the sand before you ride through the waves and into the Pacific. While you float alongside the cliffs, learn the history of La Jolla Cove and make friends with the local wildlife.

Location: La Jolla

 

First Light Surf Club

Best SoCal Summer Activities
Credit: John Hall

Calling all dawn patrol people! Designed for those with hectic schedules, First Light Surf Club invites busy boardriders to catch some waves before the day heats up. Join the lineup every third Thursday of each month at Sip and Rip meetups. Prework wave riding is followed by a necessary stop at Necessity Coffee, and you’ll still be able to make it to the office on time. Work is a grind, but mornings spent shredding always make the day better. Follow the club’s Instagram to discover which break they plan to surf next!

Location: San Diego

 

Jet Ski to Catalina Island

Best SoCal Summer Activities
Credit: Jet Ski to Catalina Island

It’s all about the journey—not the destination! Swap a boat for a Jet Ski adventure along the 27-mile stretch from California’s coast to Catalina Island. Jet Ski excursions offer the thrill of ripping through the ocean at speed. Dolphins swim alongside you during the two-hour journey, and you’ll stop at the deep-sea ocean safari to swim with whales and sunfish before exploring Two Harbors. The adventure begins at 7 a.m. and returns around 3:30 p.m.— just in time for happy hour in Long Beach.

Location: Long Beach 

 

Swan Boat in Echo Park Lake

Best SoCal Summer Activities
Credit: Wheel Fun Rentals

Echo Park is one of LA’s hidden gems, replete with a grand fountain amid lush lotus beds. These man-powered pedal boats let you immerse yourself in the wonder of the park at your own pace. Large boats with four seats are best for families—you can even bring your dog—while small boats make for a romantic date on the water. Or make it a game: ask for the Swan Boat’s trivia option to see the best of Echo Lake. At just $12 an hour, Swan Boat excursions are an experience you can’t pass up!

Location: Long Beach

 

Parasailing in Dana Point

Credit: Reza Salehan

Trust us: Dana Point looks best from a bird’s-eye view. See the coast like never before by soaring 800 feet over it. Up to three passengers at a time can participate in this thrilling experience—perhaps with friends and family snapping pics from the boat below. The adventure starts by sailing from the south side of the harbor. Once in the open ocean, strap into the parachute, take a seat on the flight deck and lift off for a 10-minute airborne excursion above the Pacific. They even let you fly for free the week of your birthday, as long as you have one full-fare passenger with you.

Location: Dana Point

 

Hot Tub Cruisin

You’re on a boat and in a Jacuzzi, cruising the Mission Bay! That’s the promise of these  vessels, each outfitted with a bubbling hot tub for your crew. Connect your playlist, load up the cooler with drinks and snacks, and have yourself a day! Fire up the on-deck grill for dinner, and when the tub gets too hot, dive from the boat for a refreshing dip. While most cruises are self-guided, you can hire a captain for a sunset cruise, where you’ll see fireworks from SeaWorld over the water.

Location: Mission Bay

Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!

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