At Leisure

Small but well located, Marina del Rey is a boating hub.

  Marina Del Rey is tiny oasis for watersports enthusiasts, tourists and business travelers just four miles north of LAX. From a boating standpoint, there is much to do in this square mile of unincorporated area — more than 6,000 recreational boat slips and the highest density of restaurant seating in a one-square-mile area outside of New York City.

The harbor is definitely the dominant feature of the city, and it’s the world’s largest man-made small-craft harbor, with eight basins emptying out and joining with Ballona Creek. Guest docks and pumpout are available at the main channel between basins G and H. Head over to Burton Chace Park between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily to moor. Also, there are four-hour guest docks available, free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis — registration is not required. Free pumpout is available to any boater, with 20 minutes of free tie-up to use the facilities. To tie up overnight, visit the Park Office to register and pay the slip fee, which is $1.15/foot per night (at press time).

A fuel dock is on the west side of the main channel, right at the entrance to A basin.

To see some sights around the marina, check out The Free Ride. Simply wave down a Free Ride vehicle or text your pickup location and passenger count to (323) 435-5000 and wait 10 to 15 minutes for a pickup. The service covers all of Marina del Rey and also will go to nearby Venice Pier and Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. To stay on the water within the harbor, the Water Bus stops at eight locations, including Burton Chace Park and Fishermen’s Village, and only costs $1 for a one-way trip.

Marina del Rey has scores of activities, considering its small size. If you dare, try parasailing (March-October) with Marina del Rey Parasailing and get a birds-eye view of the Los Angeles coastline. Get off your boat and explore the harbor a different way, maybe on a standup paddleboard from Pro SUP Shop or a PWC or kayak from Marina del Rey Boat Rentals. With a little planning, you can even schedule a lesson in kayaking, rowing or windsurfing at the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center. There is also plenty of beach sand on which to stretch out and sunbathe, if you’d rather just do nothing at all.

Marina del Rey is not short of restaurants. Every craving can be satisfied within a stone’s throw from the dock, and you’d best bet that the local restaurants have taken advantage of the beautiful marina views that the abundant shoreline in Marina del Rey provides. C&O Cucina is one of the recognized restaurants on the block — known for its tasty garlic knots and home-style Italian dishes at a reasonable price. Fisherman’s Village offers some on-the-water options, including Whiskey Reds and El Torito. There are many posh New American and seafood restaurants tucked away in the resorts around the area, and many of them have boater/dock entrances.

For boaters on a bit of a budget, there is a list of some great happy hour deals (most of them for weekday afternoons) on the Marina del Rey website, so if you happen to be parched after a long day of boating, check out one of the listings. Most of these restaurants offer front row seats to watch the sunset.

Although there are several ‘Mothers’ Beaches in California, the one in Marina del Rey might have the most amenities. This beach is referred to as Mothers Beach 8 because there is a roped-off swimming and wading area, and the water is calm and waveless because it’s in a marina. There are picnic tables and barbecues available, as well as a bike path, a boat launch, volleyball courts and a parking lot.

Running alongside where the harbor meets the Ballona Wetlands is the Ballona Estuary, where urban spread eases up into a 600-acre natural preserve on the edge of Los Angeles. Docent tours are available, and a public walking trail allows visitors to enjoy the scenery up close and personal. Take the fast lane and bike down the Ballona Creek Bike Path, which connects to another path that goes all the way to Redondo Beach, a safe alternative to enjoy the South Bay’s beaches without worrying about traffic. On Saturdays, a Farmer’s Market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the corner of Panay Way and Via Marina.