Florida Keys
Canada Guides Ad
Fort Myers
Daytona Beach
Search Past Articles
(2015 - Spring/Summer Issue)


“Whale Ho!” shouted Ron, one of the volunteer marine experts from Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, during our whale-watching excursion on the Voyager. He was among a cadre of naturalists who are also members of the American Cetacean Society-Los Angeles Chapter, an organization devoted to protecting whales.

My daughter and I were among the 50-odd passengers searching for the whales that cluster around the Redondo Submarine Canyon, a rare oceanographic phenomenon that is one of only five submarine canyons in the area. Along with Captain Andy, his crew and the naturalists, we had already watched Archie—the resident humpback grey whale—repeatedly arch his back and slide under the water and out of view. During the three hours we spent on board, on this typically sunny and 21-C February day in Los Angeles, we observed whales, sea lions, dolphins and one bikini-clad surfboarder. 

A Beachy Playground

Whale-watching is but one of the many marine activities in this seaside playground, which includes the glass-bottomed SSV Looking Glass, a 19-passenger USCG- inspected semi-submersible underwater vessel; sport fishing; sailing; kayaking; pedal boating; diving; surfing; paddleboarding; boogie boarding; and swimming. Fitness buffs play beach volleyball while youngsters frolic in the sand at the Seaside Lagoon, swim in the saltwater pool or ogle ducks, geese and koi at the Hopkins Wilderness Park. For me, cruising the ocean, walking the beach, shopping along the pier (and at the Riviera Village Farmers’Market) and dining in seafood-centric restaurants are reasons enough to visit Redondo Beach.

Redondo Beach is the largest and farthest south of the South Bay communities in greater Los Angeles County. The scenic and uncrowded community boasts charming street-side cottages, the area’s deepest harbour, a romantic seafront esplanade with sunset views and three kilometres of sandy beaches with easily accessible beach parking. In the early 1900s, it was the major shipping point between San Francisco and San Diego and the place where Hawaiian lifeguard George Freeth introduced surfing to the mainland. It also enjoyed a distinguished history as a setting for Hollywood movies and TV shows and as the place where Meistrell twins, Bill and Bob, developed the first wetsuit, which eventually became the iconic Body Glove brand. Today, it’s a year-round resort town with a walkable waterfront studded with hotels, restaurants and compelling sights including a memorial to the twins located just a few blocks from the Dive N Surf shop they founded.

A major attraction is the Redondo Beach Pier, a horseshoe-shaped walkway, with souvenir and sportswear shops. Another is the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art 1,457-seat musical and theatrical venue. Along with the Redondo Beach Historical Museum, there’s SEA Lab, operated by the LA Conservation Corps, an ecological institute featuring touch tanks and interactive exhibits for children. The city’s event calendar includes a free summer Concert Series; a lobster, a chalk and a kite festival; the Riviera Village Summer Festival; plus, the annual 10K run, walk, baby buggy race. One venue is visible even from the ocean: The Whaling Wall, with its depiction of grey whales, is Wyland’s second-largest marine mural. And, if you travel with a pet, there’s even a dedicated dog park.

A Maritime Haven

I drove to the beach town from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by driving south on Sepulveda—which becomes Pacific Coast Highway—and bearing right at the arched sign: Redondo Beach –King Harbor. This short stretch is bordered by a brand new cycling lane; it passes King Harbor’s yacht-filled marina, the site of the new Shade Redondo Beach (sister to the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach) and harbourside restaurants, including the Cheesecake Factory and the Bluewater Grill. At Beryl Street, I turned right at the corner (between the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina Hotel and the newly opened Redondo Beach Hotel), and followed the road around the Portofino Marina to the Portofino Hotel & Marina.

This was my third stay at the Portofino, which is affiliated with the Noble House Hotels. The navy-and-white nautical decor pleases me, so does the hotel’s boutique ambiance. Front rooms face the yacht-filled harbour while those in the back overlook the channel and feature expansive ocean views. From my balcony, I watched sailboats dropping their sails, couples paddling in adjoining kayaks and sea lions romping.

Redondo Beach participates in the Blue Zones Project, a public health initiative aimed at creating a healthy environment for residents and visitors by providing safe bike and pedestrian access, adding better lighting to the Redondo Pier and more urban greenery, plus emphasizing the benefits of exercise and no smoking. Encouraging better eating is intrinsic to the mission and many local restaurants have instituted low-calorie and low-fat menu items.

Eating well on fresh seafood and wonderful California produce is a pleasure at the local, water-view eateries. At R10 Social House (named for the buoy), I relished beer-steamed clams and jidori brick chicken. At BALEENkitchen, at the Portofino, I savoured another pot of steamed Little Neck clams and listened to a terrific band. And, at Captain Kidd’s, my take-back-to-the-room order included enormous steamed shrimp.

Taxis are readily available to and from LAX and local restaurants, so a car isn’t really necessary unless you plan to visit other famous LA destinations, such as the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, Richard Meier’s J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Villa, the chic boutiques on Rodeo Drive or the Hollywood attractions and studio tours. If you choose to stay in Redondo Beach, you’ll find the laid-back, beachy Los Angeles so often depicted in mid-century movies; only now, it’s been updated to 21st-century standards.

Travel Planner

Plan your trip to Redondo Beach at visitredondo.com.

For more information, visit:

Portofino Hotel & Marina: hotelportofino.com

Voyager Excursions: voyagerexcursions.com

Best Western
Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
Crane's Beach House
San Antonio
Website Hosted and Designed by The Biz Services Inc.