The 9 Best California Boat Tours For Every Mood

The 9 Best California Boat Tours For Every Mood

By Ani Karibian July 09, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

The smell of salty air, the sound of lapping waves, and the spotting of whales make for a wonderful day at sea. Live on the wild side and venture out onto the open waters with the crew. Whether you want to take a sunset sail or enjoy a dinner cruise on the Pacific Ocean, there are numerous California boat tours to suit your mood. So, get ready for a fun-filled nautical experience as you encounter marine life and gaze at the horizon while relaxing with the people you love most. 

San Diego Boat Rides

Sail around the waters of San Diego and enjoy views of the Queen Mary, downtown skyscrapers, Coronado Bridge, and Point Loma.

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San Diego Yacht Charters

Location: San Diego

Price range: The cost varies based on the type of charter and the duration of the boat ride.

Amenities: The charters can be tailored to suit your needs but typically include a captain and a concierge. 

The highly-rated San Diego Yacht Charters is the way to go if you want a private boating experience in this stunning city—you definitely won’t have any regrets. From whale-watching and bird-watching tours to sightseeing and romantic charters, there’s something to float your boat. Since there is plenty of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and San Diego attractions, you’ll want to bring your camera and your closest friends so you can make lifelong memories. 

San Diego Sailing Tours

Location: San Diego

Price range: Various packages are available to suit your budget and interests. 

Amenities: Refreshing beverages, snacks, and luxe interiors

Breathe in the fresh salt air and feel the invigorating breeze wash over you as you leave the chaotic city life behind with San Diego Sailing Tours. Whether you book a private charter or an intimate sailing tour, you can’t help but unwind to the sound of the hulls and the crashing sound of the waves as you embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Grab your friends and reserve spots on the two-hour Signature Sailing Tour, the Whale Watching Safari, or the three-hour Endless Summer Special. Better yet, surprise your S.O. with a romantic date and book a sailboat all to yourselves. 

Los Angeles Boat Tours

Watch the sun sink into the horizon during a serene boat ride with Chill Out Sailing. Photo courtesy of Chill Out Sailing.

Harbor Breeze Cruises

Locations: Long Beach and San Pedro

Price range: $30–$50 

Amenities: Ample seating, a snack bar, lavatories, a salon, and plenty of outside viewing room for everyone

By providing seasonal and year-round whale-watching tours, Harbor Breeze Cruises has shown Angelenos the beauty of Southern California’s marine life for the past 18 years. The experienced captains offer a comprehensive narration detailing the whales, dolphins, and other marine life encountered on the journey. From blue whales to majestic humpback whales, you can catch sight of one of these magnificent mammals during your ride aboard the eco-friendly, double-decker vessel. You’ll quickly see why it’s one of the best boat rides in SoCal.

Chill Out Sailing

Location: Long Beach

Price range: Prices vary depending on the type of boat rented, the length of the trip, and the day of the week you want to rent the boat.

Amenities: A stove, an oven, a fridge, a grill, snacks, and drinking water are included. A paddleboard and canoe are also provided at no additional charge. 

If you’re looking for one of the top Long Beach boat tours, Chill Out Sailing is the name of the game. You’ll pass by the grand Queen Mary ship, the beautiful sandy coastline, and the canals of the gorgeous neighborhood of Naples. If you feel like heading out of Long Beach, make your way to Catalina Island for an unforgettable experience. Along the way, stop to enjoy the marine life as you snorkel near the boat. 

Want an extended trip? Spend the night or two on your private charter so you can make the most of your time in this Southern California paradise. 

Catalina Island Boat Tours

Book a private fishing charter to cast a line off the shores of Catalina Island. Photo courtesy of Catalina Coastal Tours and Fishing.

Catalina Coastal Tours and Fishing

Location: Avalon

Price range: The cost greatly varies depending on the type of tour (private or not) and the length of the tour. 

Amenities: Private fishing charters include a captain and fishing guide, custom Cousins rods, Daiwa reels, bait, soda, water, and ice.

What better way to spend your day than by fishing off the shores of Catalina Island? For an exceptional fishing excursion, book a private fishing charter with Catalina Coastal Tours and Fishing to capture halibut, yellowfin tuna, lobster, and more. Custom Cousins rods, Daiwa reels, bait, refreshments, and ice are all provided for you when you rent either the Diversity or the Mojo charter. Your captain will even fillet your fish for you, so you can take it home or have it prepared at a local restaurant.

Not that interested in fishing? Book a spot on the one-hour Dolphin-Sea Lion Tour, and get inspired as you watch the dolphins glide through the waters. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale or a sea lion, too. 

Afishinados Charters

Location: Avalon

Price range: The price varies based on the length of the tour and the size of your group. 

Amenities: Covered seating, a walk-in head, a huge bait tank, large cockpit, and a licensed captain

Sporting more private and local fishing charters than any boat company in the harbor, Afishinados is definitely a top choice, especially if you’ve got some time to spare while you’re hitting up the hot Catalina beaches. You wouldn’t regret taking the flying-fish tour or the cocktail cruise with your friends; you can even make it a family affair and bring up to 12 of your nearest and dearest for a super-rad ride.

San Francisco Boat Rides

Get an up-close look at San Francisco's most iconic attractions during a small-group boat tour with Bay Voyager. Photo courtesy of Bay Voyager.

Bay Voyager

Location: San Francisco

Price range: $99–$396 

Amenities: Water-proof jackets are provided to protect you from the occasional splash

Rated the No.1 Bay Tour on TripAdvisor and awarded five stars by over 2,000 guests, Bay Voyager will give you the adventure of a lifetime. Owned by a family with over 300 years of maritime experience, this company will make you feel safe and secure while also providing you with a thrilling, small-group tour of the San Francisco Bay. Hop on a boat with one of the professional captains—who love nothing more than to show their visitors the glorious vistas and legendary landmarks of historical San Francisco—and get ready to see the sites.

Take the 90-minute Twilight Cruise to watch the sun set over the city and witness the skyscrapers illuminate, or embark on the 90-minute Touch of Gold sightseeing tour to view the Golden Gate Bridge and other iconic S.F. attractions up close.

Lake Tahoe Boat Rides

Witness the breathtaking scenery of South Lake Tahoe aboard a spacious boat or luxurious yacht with Tahoe Cruises.

Tahoe Cruises

Location: South Lake Tahoe

Price range: $35–$90

Amenities: A full bar, complimentary drinks/specials, indoor and outdoor seating, a dining room, four restrooms, a heated salon complete with leather and mahogany, a sun deck, and a fireplace—plus a certified captain, a Coast Guard–licensed master, and a crew 

Lake Tahoe is one of the hottest houseboat destinations in California, but if you want to let someone else steer the boat so you can simply sit back and relax, look no further than Tahoe Cruises. This acclaimed Lake Tahoe cruise company will have you in seventh heaven. Step aboard the Safari Rose, an 80-foot-long luxury yacht, which awaits you on the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe. Who wouldn’t want to explore South Lake Tahoe’s gorgeous scenery while relaxing on an extravagant and elegant boat? It’s basically nirvana, if you ask us, so don't hesitate to book the two-hour Emerald Bay Sightseeing Day Cruise, the 1.5-hour South Shore Sightseeing Cruise (seasonal), or the two-hour Sunset Champagne Cruise. 

Klamath River Tour

Admire the beauty of the Klamath River and learn about the local Native American culture with Klamath River Jet Boat Tours.

Klamath River Jet Boat Tours

Location: Klamath

Price range: $27–$47 

Amenities: Blankets are provided for the occasional splash

Ride down the pristine Klamath River, the second largest and second longest river in California. You’ll be feeling pretty blessed to have the opportunity to explore the Yurok Tribe’s world, which all begins at the river, and to learn about the local Native American culture. As you embark on this amazing 45-mile journey with Klamath River Jet Boat Tours, you’ll discover the wildlife and amazing scenery, hear about the Klamath River’s history, and experience the thrilling white waters. There are plenty of stops along the way, too, so you’ll have time to capture the beauty surrounding you. 

WRITTEN BY
Ani Karibian

WRITTEN BY Ani Karibian

Ani is the content manager for California.com. She savors her time discovering California's hidden gems and writing about the hottest spots in town. She's got an unquenchable thirst for adventur…

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