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Alamitos Bay
Alamitos Bay Beach
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Sunset Gondolas

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Huntington Beach Hotels

Holiday Cruise of Lights Gondola Ride Photos



Sunset Gondolier Steers a Gondola for Sunset Gondola Cruises


Sunset Gondola 16370 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA  

Gondola Reservations


When we began writing about gondola rides in California a decade ago, we didn't stop to think that there are two types of gondolas. First there's the gondola that goes by many names such as Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, or the South Lake Tahoe Heavenly Ski gondola. But what we really intended was to discuss the traditional water vessel that is black or wood grained, shaped like a canoe with distinctive ornamentation, and steered by a standing gondolier who rows with very long oars. That's the gondola ride that you'll find at some of California's beaches ranging from San Diego in the south to Lake Merritt in Oakland to the north.


Living in Orange County, the gondola rides I've taken for years with family and friends have been at Naples in Long Beach. Then several years ago, two of my favorite gondoliers from Naples formed their own company called Sunset Gondola. They opened their business in another nearby by, just a few miles from Naples. Sunset Gondola steers in the harbors and channels of Huntington Beach and Sunset Beach.


How does the new ride stack up, compared to Naples? It's quite a bit different actually. The gondoliers really earn their keep in Huntington Harbour. While it features one or two bridges the tour passes under (for kissing), there's a lot more open water as the channels are wider than Naples. Shown in the photo above is Trinidad Island. For most of the Sunset Gondola ride, you're not particularly close to the houses and mansions, though you can see them well enough. In Naples, you can practically reach out and touch the neighbors who sit out on their bayfront patios, sipping wine and watching people have a good time on a gondola ride.


Since I've become a gondola ride aficionado, it's hard to get a bad ride. Gondoliers are trained and most stay in the craft or trade for decades, much like they do in Italy. So when you book a ride, you find the gondolier is half the fun of the excursion. And with their expert skills, they are all about the ride--and about discretion, when required.


While I love the Naples gondola rides, and I've tried the Coronado Island gondola in  San Diego, I like Huntington Beach's gondola rides for two reasons--Tim Reinard and Tyson Davis. These guys built their business on a dream that they could bring joy to tourists and vacationers, lovers, birthday boys and girlfriends getting away for the day.


I want these guys to get their just desserts, and hope you'll support them by booking a pleasurable ride with two of America's top ranked gondoliers.