The Sea

Back in Shape
Build up those shoulders this winter with help from experts at the Newport Aquatic Center, where rowing and kayaking lessons are offered year-round. Private, hour-long rowing lessons are $60 per person. You’ll explore Newport’s scenic Back Bay while learning basic to advanced rowing techniques. 1 Whitecliffs Drive, Newport Beach, 949-646-7725,

Tweeting (Old School)
Any local expert will tell you Orange County is known for some of the nation’s best birding. More than half the species in the United States have been spotted here. Get started at the Bolsa Chica reserve, where you’ll observe seabirds and shorebirds year-round. The wetlands are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Bolsa Chica Wetlands Interpretive Center, 3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-846-1114,

Beneath the Waves
Dive into Doheny and Crystal Cove’s waters. Both marine parks are among the 22 in the California state system and ideal for scenic diving, underwater photography, and spearfishing. Doheny State Park, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, 949-496-6172,; Crystal Cove State Park, 8471 E. Coast Highway,
Laguna Beach, 949-494-3539,

Shell Games
Skip the sports on TV, grab the kids, and take off for Laguna Beach, Salt Creek Beach Park in Dana Point, or Pirates Cove at Corona del Mar State Beach for an afternoon of tide-pooling. Explore the rocky shoreline, where you’ll find a world of starfish, anemones, sea urchins, barnacles, crabs and other crustaceans, and kelp. Search for shells and treasures in the surf. If you have time, build a sand castle before you head home. Salt Creek Beach, 33333 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point; Corona del Mar State Beach, Ocean Boulevard at Iris Avenue, Corona del Mar; Laguna Beach, several locations, including Cliff Drive at North Coast Highway and Shaw’s Cove at the foot of Fairview Street. See

Shove Off
Haul lines and hoist sails aboard the tall ship Pilgrim,
a replica of the brig immortalized by Richard Henry Dana’s 1840 novel “Two Years Before the Mast,” or take a cruise aboard the 118-foot tall ship Spirit, a replica of a Baltimore clipper. Both drop anchor at the Ocean Center in Dana Point Harbor. Admission to the Pilgrim: $6.50 adults, $4.50 kids; cruises on the Spirit, $40 for adults, $23 for kids. 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, 949-496-2274,

Paddle Surfing
Stand-up paddling in Huntington Harbour or Newport’s
Back Bay is a relaxing way to spend a winter afternoon.
But if you want to hit the waves off the coast, a few lessons might help. Huntington Harbour paddle boarder and board shaper Rocky McKinnon, above in Corona del Mar, offers instruction ranging from beginning paddling to advanced wave running. McKinnon Shapes & Designs, 714-377-6101,

Learn how to handle a boat—or just enjoy a pleasant afternoon—with Westwind Sailing at the OC Sailing and Events Center in Dana Point Harbor. The center has trained more than 25,000 students. Instructors are offering private lessons and weekend supervised sails this month; group lessons begin in March. Standup paddling lessons also are available. 34451 Ensenada Place, Dana Point, 949-492-3035,

Favorite Spots

Tide Pools ➜ Laguna Beach’s 7-mile shoreline

Place to See Crazy Waves ➜ The Wedge, Newport Beach

Consistent Surf ➜ Trestles, San Clemente

Kayak/Outrigger/Stand-Up Paddling Place ➜ Newport Beach Back Bay (also great for running, hiking, and biking)

Windsurfing ➜ Seal Beach

Place to Dive ➜ Shaw’s Cove, Laguna Beach

Coastal Conservancy ➜ Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach

Photograph by Steve Casimiro
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue.

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