Wednesday, July 31, 2013

La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak

I recently bought a deal from Travelzoo (really, I never do anything at full price these days ... ) for a kayaking tour of La Jolla Sea Caves. We first met at the tour office (the deal was for OEX Dive & Kayak) and walked to the beach with the guide. Almost everyone got a tandem kayak.
The kayaking is very safe, but the time where you are most likely to flip over is when you first get on the kayak and take off from the beach. Especially for tandem kayaks, since both of you are trying to get on while maintaining balance and the waves are rougher near the shore. Yes, we flipped over! But that was the first and last time we flipped.
The tour takes about an hour - it's quite a workout for my arms! It was the first time I was in the back and it was my friend's first kayaking experience, so I had to figure out how to give directions :P

The tour guide gave a lot of tidbits about the houses we see on the shore. That white house with the slanted roof below was Dr. Seuss' house!
He told us stories about how one of the homeowners here had to pay a fine when birds crashed into his glass windows. The glass and other things fell into the water and he had to pay a fine because it's a marine preserve. You really have to be rich and then some to own a house here.

For the kayaking tour, I was rather disappointed that we didn't get closer to the sea caves. There were people who were swimming through one of the caves but I think for that you're supposed to buy the kayak and snorkel tour combo. I didn't know! For the kayak tour, we just kayak alongside the caves and turned back. Still, it was a nice view and a good workout.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Windsports Hang Gliding Beach Lesson

I recently took an introductory hang gliding lesson with Windsports Hang Gliding (another Groupon buy!). The introductory lesson takes place on Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey and gets you seven flights. If you'd rather run off a cliff instead of the beach, they do have mountain tandem lessons. In the beach lesson you kind of fly off on your own, but the instructor runs alongside you.

The best part is that you  get to fly off in the very first lesson, so you get to feel the action immediately. First they teach you the basic of how to strap yourself in, lift the glide to get ready, and handle the glide. This was only a 15 minute talk or so, and the rest is practice. Surprisingly, the glide is very sensitive and you must handle it very lightly to maneuver.
My friend Jenny getting ready for a run
One of my better runs: 
It may seem short on the video, but it was awesome to glide "alone" in the air. Hang gliding seems to be a great new activity to pick up. With Dockweiler Beach nearby, you can practice on your own safely before taking mountain lessons. You *do* have to carry the glide back up, though. Man, that thing was heavy!

Paragliding or hang gliding? Can't decide ...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Malibu Tandem Paragliding

The best part of those Groupon-like websites for me is the opportunity to try random adventures for cheaper! I got a Gilt City deal for a paragliding lesson with Malibu Paragliding. It's run by just one guy - he's not exactly the most organized but I ended up having a lot of fun anyway.

I thought it was supposed to be a lesson on the beach but I ended up doing a tandem paragliding from a cliff. This is actually better if you just wanted to try it out instead of trying to be a full fledged paraglider since you won't be able to with just one lesson anyway. 

So we met with the instructor at a house near the beach. I don't know how it would work if you're by yourself but when there were two of us it worked like this: The three of us drove up a winding road to the cliffs where one of us got set up and did the tandem flight. The other drove back down the road to the house and waited for the gliders to land. Then we drove back up for the other person's flight.

The scariest part of the flight was running off the cliff! At least I didn't have to worry too much about all the equipment being set up properly since the instructor took care of that. He told me to run and keep running until we took off, so I did. I think you can still see me running even when were already up in the air!
After that, all I had to do was sit and float! When the wind conditions are good and you know what you're doing you can stay up for a long time. Beware if you're prone to seasickness, though, as you do sway around in the air. I was up for about 30 minutes I think and loved it! It was a great feeling floating in the air with the view of Malibu all around me.
(Thanks to Virgil for taking the videos)

 The landing is a little tricky but as long as you follow his instruction you should be fine! Paragliding was certainly worth trying. It tends to be pricey but if you can find deals like I did, it's well worth it.