A sweet and strong breeze blows through my hair and causes the sails of the boat to flap wildly and then go taut as we glide through the water. We stream by beautiful homes, pleasure vessels, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders. The sun is shining bright without a cloud in the sky. We are sailing out to sea off the shores of Los Angeles.

Many visitors coming to this Southern California city make a beeline for the beaches and few consider going beyond them. But the experience of setting out on the Pacific provides a whole new appreciation for Los Angeles. For those visiting for the first time, and especially for repeat travelers, getting on the water is a must.

To get the scoop on local boating, I met up with the team over at Naos Yachts, one of a handful of companies based in Los Angeles from which you can hire a vessel. And here’s what I found.

From the Marina del Rey harbor you can rent catamarans, sailboats, and yachts for a day, a weekend, or longer. Many of them come with bedrooms, a kitchen, and a full bathroom.

To really take advantage of these floating homes you could sail along the coast to Malibu where you can send down an anchor and swim to shore. What an entrance that would be to the trendy beach scene at Paradise Cove. Or maybe the secluded and stunning beaches at Point Dume are more your style?

Enjoying Los Angeles by sea

As you sail, be sure to keep your eyes open for wildlife like dolphins, whales, and ubiquitous sea lions. Take a picture of the iconic Santa Monica Pier and Ferris wheel from a unique perspective. Bring your own music, a bottle of wine, and good food. Really, can you think of anything more luxurious?

Another adventurous option would be to sail all the way to Catalina Island where you can sleep on the boat at night and enjoy island living by day. 

If you are not a certified sailor, don’t count yourself out. For one, you can get certified with Naos Yachts and other local companies that are approved to teach by the American Sailing Association. With only a couple of days of instruction, you can take one of the smaller vessels out on the water all by yourself. 

Alternatively, you can hire a captain for the day who can make the trip carefree with his or her navigational expertise. (Also inquire about a personal chef!)

Viewfinder Tip: For a better deal, charter a sailboat out of LA during the week instead of the weekend. Be sure to book ahead.

Here’s another tip—for those hoping to get on the water on a budget, look into taking one of the many day cruises or mealtime cruises that leave year-round from Marina del Rey harbor.

Whichever you choose, the visceral and refreshing experience on the water will change your perspective of Los Angeles forever.

Where are your favorite spots to get on the water?