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Getting active in California

- October 1st, 2010

Californians are an active population. The temperate weather and near lack of rainfall in the state encourage outdoor activities, as does the array of natural features that seem to beg to be explored, from the surf-perfect waves of the Pacific Ocean to the rugged mountains.

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, my home for the final two nights of my SoCal media trip, takes advantage of its pristine oceanfront setting to promote eco and active travel right on the property. 

The Ritz-Carlton has partnered with the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment Program to give guests both an educational and personal experience with SoCal’s ecosystems. All programs are guided by naturalists and cater to different ability levels.

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The view from a patio at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.

The Ambassadors in the Kitchen option provides a tour of the resort’s organic garden and compost area, followed by an organic cooking lesson in the kitchen. There are also whale watching, snorkeling, boogie boarding and nocturnal nature tours available for visitors who want to explore outdoor areas near the resort. 

I was fortunate enough to participate in a different kind of active excursion at the Ritz-Carlton this morning: yoga in a gazebo overlooking the ocean. Though I’ve taken yoga classes in the past, the view of the Pacific Ocean while standing in mountain pose heightened my zen feeling. The low-impact, hour-long class is offered every morning at 9 a.m. to all guests of the Ritz.

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The view of the ocean while doing yoga in the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel’s gazebo.

The morning of active and adventure travel continued when a La Vida Laguna van shuttled our press group to Main Beach for an eco-kayak tour of Laguna Beach. 

Never having kayaked before, I was initially terrified of tipping my craft, but found the hour-long paddle along the coast to be exceptionally easy (perhaps because I shared my kayak with a more experienced journalist from Vancouver) and filled with spectacular sights. In addition to the million-dollar hillside properties hovering above us, dolphins playfully surfaced and jumped out of the water as we paddled toward them, while sea lions lazed on large rocks closer to shore. A guide was with our group the entire time and, when lightning started flickering in the distance and the surf started getting rougher, made sure we safely rode a wave back to the sand. 

I had never considered myself an adventure tourist. Walking city tours are often as active as I get on vacation. California’s nature, though, begs to be discovered. From a hike in Los Angeles’ Runyon Canyon Park to a journey with the California gray whales as they migrate from Southern California, this Eden for the active traveller has more than its fair share of nature’s beauty. 

- Nicole Feenstra

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