Aqualink Long Beach Boat Ride

Long Beach -- Aqualink was back in 2009 after a hiatus to get some new paint. Looking top notch, the catamaran is still the same joy we remembered back in 2008, 2007, 2006.... 

See the Aqualink video and more information

The City of Long Beach used to try to send messages via the captains and crews of the Long Beach water taxis that they were not designed as joy rides. With that message, locals continued to support the subsidized service by riding it (how novel!) But as the boat rides began to catch on and the hotels and conventions also learned of the opportunities, the boats started filling their seats more and more. The only problem was that the big boat, the high speed Aqualink, has a reduced schedule in winter, and in 2008/2009 winter was taken out of service for a few months to get cleaned up and a new paint job. It wasn't the only commercial venture to do this. Newport Beach's ferry service to Catalina Island, a once-a-day catamaran from Balboa Pavilion to the island, also took off time. The loyal audience and their interest in this mode of transportation drops or adjusts as would-be travelers are forced back into their cars to get around. That's the down side.


But the good news is that on my recent ride on the painted Aqualink, I traveled with a birthday party of kids (about 25 people in the group,) some conventioneers wearing their name tags and getting on the boat as they had nothing to fill their time, and some local seniors, plus a cute couple from Romania. For its first weeks back in commission the vessel seemed to be doing OK. Now if they could just keep it running and go to their summer schedule earlier (daily runs only go May through early Sept.), Long Beach would see an increase in revenue from locals who are seeking affordable, fun things to share with the tourists.


"We live in Seal Beach," said one senior couple traveling on the boat. "We decided to hop on board and go for some lunch over at the Rainbow Lagoon. We've eaten at nearly every restaurant there, so we may get on the free Passport Bus and ride up Pine Ave. to try something else."


This couple expressed exactly the type of travel I make on the Aqualink. I work as a travel writer part time and have hosted at least five world class journalists on the Aqualink trip. I like to show other writers things that they can add to destination stories. When I am with writers I typically

1. Take a ride from Alamitos Landing (where parking is free) to the Aquarium of the Pacific & Rainbow Harbor stop.

2. Grab some lunch at the restaurant of my companions' choice, though I try to steer them to P.F. Chang's. Some have chosen Tequila Jack's, Parker's Lighthouse, Bubba Gump, Queen Mary, or up along Pine Avenue.

3.Pine Avenue stroll -- If my travelers are fit (many aren't), I try to get them to walk from the harbor, across Ocean and up Pine to see the changes taking place.

4. Museum of Latin American Art. On a really good day, I've gotten a few of the walkers to go to MOLA, one of my favorites.


There are alternate itineraries based on time and health of the walkers.


But the point is that we go to Long Beach on a joy ride, spend a combined $15 to 50 on lunch, and maybe buy some gifts and museum admissions along the way. My little local tourist trips in my home turf bring over $1000 annually and some goodwill exposure that Long Beach would not otherwise have. With that said, the boats are becoming more popular and one day they may raise fees to pay for rising gas costs for operations. Right now we journalists can afford it.


AQUALINK SCHEDULE/ It only goes on Saturday & Sunday, running from around 11 a.m. to closing at 6 p.m.   (see for updates)




POSSIBLE SCHEDULE SUMMER 2010 Beginning Mid-May, ending Mid-September


Alamitos Bay Landing Aquarium Dock 4 Queen Mary
daily daily daily
Noon   11:20 am  11:00 am 
1:50 pm 1:10 pm 12:30 pm
3:25 pm 2:45 pm 2:20 pm
5:05 pm 4:25 pm 3:55 pm
  6 pm 5:35 pm
Fri & Sat only Fri & Sat only Fri & Sat only
6:40 pm 7:50 pm. 7:10 pm
8:30 pm 9:20 pm 9 pm
10 pm 10:40 pm 10:30 pm






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