A Day on the Harbor: Our Oceanside Getaway
From paddleboarding to kayaking, fresh seafood to sun-soaked scenery—our family’s trip to Oceanside was the perfect way to break up the daily grind.
It was Saturday. The sun was shining. We were restless. The previous week was busy. And somehow, everyone had woken up early.
“Let’s go to Oceanside, and go paddleboarding,” I said.
Audrey, my wife, raised an eyebrow. Lance, 16, and Marina, 13, exchanged interested glances between themselves. I didn’t need them to answer to know this was a good idea.
We exit the freeway and the ocean breeze carries salty air in through the open car windows. Sand, suntan lotion and the feeling of easy living are on my mind.
We stop at a red light, and I look to our left—out to sea—and the Pacific looks back. The water meets the sky at the horizon in the distance, broken only by waves and sailing ships. Throngs of visitors, Oceanside locals, families, cyclists and everyone-in-between, are in the fore.
Boutiques and beachwear shops line the main drag. A vintage theater displays its showings on a brilliant marquee. Art galleries feature local work that draws in crowds. It’s all colorful. Oceanside has character, but it feels like a character in its own right.
“Let’s hit the water first,” I say.
The family agrees and we eagerly head down to the dock. Boats of varying size and strength line the docks: Yachts, sailboats, speedboats and others graced with names such as Dave’s Pearl, Bail Out and Barbara Ann. The boat rental outfit is right on the water, and offers everything from kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to powerboats.
“Oh my gosh, look over there!” Marina shouts and eagerly points to the water.
“It’s a sea lion,” Audrey says, excitedly.
It dipped and dived in and out of the water, in between the boats just feet away from us. Down again it goes, before resurfacing a few boats down, seemingly amused at the reactions it’s eliciting from the audience on the pier. It’s like our new little friend is welcoming us to Oceanside.
“I love this,” Audrey tells me.
“Let’s join him,” Lance says.
Lance decides on a kayak while Marina, a natural on a surfboard, opts for a stand-up paddleboard. Audrey and I choose paddleboarding too.
“SUP is really popular,” she tells her older brother.
The young man behind the counter renting us the equipment chimes in: “The sport is definitely growing,” he says before showing us a few photos and videos he’s taken out on the water.
“You’ll really enjoy the challenge of managing your balance and moving forward at the same time,” he explains. “But my favorite part is getting to see all of the wildlife. Like that little one,” he says while motioning to the sea lion still splashing about.
“Can’t wait,” Marina says.
We each strap on a flotation vest and slip into the refreshing ocean. It’s not long before Lance is hitting top speeds, racing laps around the three of us getting familiar with our paddleboards.
The board feels unsteady at first. The cold water washes over the SUP surface and tickles my feet. It feels nice under the glow of the mid-day California sunshine.
I’m glad that we were able to take such a fun, spur-of-the-moment adventure as a family.
After a few leisurely, though brisk, laps around the harbor––you can really feel the workout––we return our gear and (taking a cue from our sea lion pal) give in to the siren song of fresh seafood.
Lobster bites and shrimp tacos, and a veggie burger for Marina, hit the spot. Seafood just doesn’t taste like it does anywhere but here—next to the water, with sea salt still drying on our skin and the water still feeling as if it’s beneath our toes.
As the sun lowers toward the horizon, we find ourselves at Oceanside Pier—the longest wooden, over-water pier on the west coast. We watch the waves gently collide with the sand and rocks beneath the pier. White foam swirls atop rolling hills of blue and the sun glows a deep red as it sizzles into the ocean.
I think about all of the people on this pier with us. I think about what it looks like to them. I wonder what they see.
Marina notices a vintage viewfinder lens that offers a close-up look of the ocean beyond the end of the pier. I feed it two quarters, she steps up to the device and looks out into the unknown.
“What do you see?” Audrey asks.
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