Surfs Up In Southern California

Maria Foxwell on 17 July 2018
I was lucky enough to earn a place on an Educational trip to Southern California April 2018. This was a self-drive trip with 4 fellow Travel Counsellors and we were to experience the delights taking in various places such as Huntington Beach, LA, San Diego and Palm Springs. In each place we experienced the local excursions, local food and hospitality from the local tourist office and hotels that hosted the trip.

Firstly, starting in Heathrow, we flew on the direct service in economy to LA with American airlines. AA as an airline I thought were great with good seating, good variety of entertainment and service. I would definitely recommend and fly AA again.

On arrival at LA we collected our car and headed to Huntington beach which should have been 1 ½ hours’ drive but given the time of day 5-6pm this took a lot longer. I think my top tip would be for anyone driving in this area would be to avoid this time of day and take an earlier flight.

On arrival at Huntington beach we checked in at the Hilton Waterfront hotel and this was a great hotel with views of the beach. Our first experience was to hire bikes and ride along the beach paths. What a great experience and a lot of fun! Firstly, I don’t often ride so this was the fun part likewise a couple of my colleagues didn’t ride much so we pretty much spent the time laughing at each other’s lack of bike skills! I can say though this is the best way to see the area.

Our second experience was a boat trip along Huntington Harbour thanks to “Captain Doug” and Duffy Boats! We had a private charter with drinks and nibbles. Captain Doug took us all through the harbour pointing out various local interests and explaining the area, we took a very interesting turn that I can only describe as scene from “Only Fools and Horses” where Del and Rodney hire a boat and take it across the seas to Amsterdam! To tell the story, whilst in the harbour a US military ship was in dock and we quietly sailed past when the military raced up in their rib boat to instruct us to stay clear (we were nowhere near) but they were doing their job I guess. We passed the ship and went towards the opening to the sea where Captain Doug turned around and started to head towards the harbour dock where we started, before you knew it, we had the military once again instructing us that we had to go out to sea and was not allowing us back as the US Ship was going to depart! With that we headed out to sea. This is the bit where Rodney is sick overboard! The boat we were in wasn’t exactly for the high seas and with the waves crashing over the sides and us rocking around Captain Doug handed it amazingly (we could not stop laughing) and took us back to a harbour nearby and docked at a completely different area. With that we had a drink on dry land and his lovely wife came and drove us back to where we had to be. It was the funniest thing ever! Great service, Great experience and again lots of fun!

After a great stay at Huntington Beach we headed off to san Diego driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (scenic route) and loved it!

Arriving in San Diego we took advantage of the Downtown area on that evening and took in the local Baseball game! It was a brilliant night with the local team Padres vs. New York Mets. We literally got with the locals and enjoyed the game. There was a fantastic atmosphere and the stadium was buzzing!

The following day we visited the harbour area of San Diego taking in the USS Midway. Great day exploring this amazing aircraft carrier. This is a must see whilst in San Diego. The afternoon was spent exploring Seaport Village whish was a great place to eat.

Now having left San Diego, we headed for the desert, Palm Springs and on arrival took in the Ariel Tramway. Now, given I do not like heights, I did extremely well (I didn’t look down). This cable car can take up to 80 people at one time! Once at the top the view is stunning at the front and a fantastic view of all of Palm springs and the windmills, however at the back was pure forest, mountains and beauty.

Our final experience of the trip was Indian Canyons Tour/Desert Adventures Jeep Tour and again this is a real highlight! Travelling into real Indian country, learning about the history, culture and getting a real sense of authenticity. We did a mile trek through the canyon and the views were amazing.

To sum the trip up in a few words, I felt we had experienced the best of these places. The tours/experiences we did were fantastic. The people we met were great. So much passion for their country, the willingness to show off their homeland shone through. It was a fantastic trip and I would urge anyone to go there and take in some of the things we experienced.