Destinations Magazine - Article by Alex Goldstein
Thoughts of exotic locations with elegant waterways come to mind when imagining a city that allows you to step off a boat to visit your favorite restaurant or shopping area. Though Long Beach may not be atop your list of exotic locales, Alamitos Bay Landing – a waterfront village featuring restaurants, sport fishing and whale watching companies, shops with upscale nautical apparel and even a yarn store catering to the popular fad of knitting – is accessible by water taxi from Downtown Long Beach.
Although you can easily drive to Alamitos Bay Landing, Long Beach Transit’s AquaBus is a fun and exciting way for conventioneers and tourists to get there. On weekends the Aquabus makes three trips from the Aquarium of the Pacific. According to Rhea Mealey, Long Beach Transit marketing manager, “The AquaBus is a beautiful way to enjoy the shoreline of Long Beach.” The AquaBus stays within the Long Beach breakwater, but travels in deep water beyond the oil islands and holds up to 20 people. It’s also a bargain at $2 each way.
Dining With a View
Passengers on the AquaBus disembark on a dock providing easy access to Alamitos Bay Landing businesses. One of the first restaurants visitors will see is McKenna’s On The Bay, featuring waterfront dining and meals like prime steaks and fresh seafood cooked over natural wood. McKenna’s is owned by restaurateur John Faber, who boasts 45 years in the restaurant business and once owned 18 restaurants. Another dining option at Alamitos Bay Landing is Buster’s Beach House Grill & Longboard Bar, offering cuisine from beaches around the world. The restaurant is named for a surfer names Buster, who traversed the globe looking for great surf and stumbled along a diamond mine in South Africa that funded his love of restaurants. Buster’s offers images of surf spots, happy hour specials like Voodoo Chicken, MangoRitas, a drink called the Rip Curl Mai Tai and, according to General Manager Tim Monaghan, “the best view in Long Beach.” Khoury’s Restaurant also has a great view. Manager Jocelyn Shaw calls Khoury’s a fine dining establishment offering French continental cuisine with casual dining outside, catering and live entertainment. A few of Khoury’s specialties include and all-you-can-eat seafood buffet on Friday and Saturday nights and a champagne brunch on Sundays with seven stations of food, including Middle Eastern fare.
If you don’t have time to sit down for a proper meal, the Ship’s Pantry specializes in what owner Don Braymer calls “the kind of food people take on boats,” such as beer, wine, soft drinks, hot dogs and packaged sandwiches.
The Life Aquatic
There are numerous companies in Alamitos Bay Landing offering trips by boat or yacht. One is Long Beach Marina Sport Fishing, where owner Don Ashley gives guests the chance to “get away from the hectic life on land, catch good winter fish and maybe see a whale and a porpoise as well.” Long Beach Marina Sport Fishing has one daily cruise on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekend cruises departing at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. that range as far as 10 miles off shore.
Horizons West Adventures offers day trips and multi-day trips aboard the 73-foot schooner the Dirigio II. Owner Len Daniello says day trips are primarily for whale watching, while longer trips cart surfers and other more serious travelers to the Channel Islands, Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. Daniello also runs Long Beach Sailing, a sailboat charter company for qualified sailors that teaches sailing lessons. Another Alamitos Bay Landing Company, Sun Diver Charters, offers boat rentals and charters.
If you would like to be the captain of a boat and enjoy the calm waters of Alamitos Bay, Bay Boat Rentals rents electric boats you can putt around in. According to owner Buddy Wilson, each boat is equipped with AM/FM stereo radios, CD players, coolers full of ice and a canopy with windows to keep you comfortable in all weather conditions.
Yacht Shopping, Ecology, Accessories and More
Life at sea is a temporary respite from life on land for most people. But for those who want to shove off permanently and purchase a boat or yacht, San Pedro Yachts at Alamitos Bay Landing sells yachts from $10,000 to $10,000,000. According to Sales Manager Jerry Sollando, San Pedro Yachts has an inventory of over 200 vessels. Bayside Yachts Sales, Inc. also specializes in yacht sales, selling new and used, power and sailing vessels ranging from 30 to 100 feet long.
Whether you spend most of your time at sea or just want to look like an experienced ship captain, the Sailing Pro Shop has the apparel to help you look the part. Owner Mark Michaelsen says the Sailing Pro Shop offers upscale nautical apparel such as Dubarry shoes, Reyn Spooner and Kahala Aloha shirts, and sunglasses from a multitude of companies. Another Alamitos Bay company, North Sails, sells boating-oriented accessories such as clothing, hats, T-shirts and belts. If life at sea has simply wreaked havoc with your hairdo, not to worry – Salon by the Sea can help. Co-owner Denny Kon says Salon by the Sea offers the usual hair and nail services, as well as such choice spa treatments as hot stone massages. The condition of the marine environment is the focus of one Alamitos Bay Landing organization. The Algalita Foundation, a non-profit marine research foundation, monitors the effects of plastic on the marine environment. Marieta Francis, Algalita’s director of operations, says the foundation collects local water samples, analyzes the ratio of plastic to zooplankton levels in Alamitos Bay and compares them to samples taken from the central Pacific Ocean. Visitor’s to Algalita’s office can peruse a library of information on plastic pollution and purchase videos on the subject.
While many visitors to Alamitos Bay Landing will come for fun in the sun and the sea, others may want to take part in one of America’s chicest new fashion trends – knitting. The Alamitos Bay Yarn Company caters to this craze by providing what co-owner Cindy Loeffler calls “funny, novelty and all kinds of yarns, with yarn balls ranging in price from $6-$100.” The Alamitos Bay Yarn Company also offers drop-in knitting classes for only $6 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m., and on Wednesday nights from 6:30-9 p.m.
If you’re driving, Alamitos Bay Landing is located at the end of Marina Drive in Southeast Long Beach, one block below Pacific Coast Highway.