By Greg Aragon
It’s hard to call a town with the world’s largest man-made marina a hidden gem, but in a way Marina Del Rey is just that. Located near the larger, more famous areas of Venice Beach and Santa Monica, the tiny city can easily be overlooked. But for savvy travelers from around the globe the place is waterfront paradise.
“Marina del Rey is an urban waterfront playground that offers tourists resort-like amenities, exceptional hotel accommodations, and dining experiences with breathtaking Marina views,” says Janet Zaldua, CEO of the Marina del Rey Convention & Visitors Bureau.
I began a recent getaway to Marina del Rey at Jamaica Bay Inn, a tropical island-like resort located in the marina, on Mother’s Beach, with great views of sand and water. The boutique hotel is a true West Indies-inspired experience, complete with rattan furnishings, warm colors, rich textures, and lush flora. And, like a Caribbean resort the water is only a few steps away.
My room at Jamaica Bay Inn featured a 55-inch flat screen TV, two queen beds with plush linens, an office desk with free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, a Keurig coffee maker, an oversized comfy chair, Molton Brown bath amenities, plush bathrobes and a huge waterfall shower. However, the room’s best feature was the balcony overlooking the coastal skyline and the marina full of beautiful boats.
Beyond comfortable rooms, the hotel boasts a heated year-round pool with marina views, a fitness center, a 24-hour lobby business center, on-site bicycle rentals, a gourmet restaurant, banquet and conference rooms, and a location within walking distance to attractions like Venice Beach or the shop district of Abbot Kinney Blvd.
When not relaxing at Jamaica Bay Inn, I was exploring the rest of town. Built in the early 1960s at the site of an old salt marsh, Marina del Rey is a modern wonder of construction. As one of the world’s largest man-made small craft harbors, it features eight basins and is home to approximately 6,500 boats.
To get an up-close look at the water and boats, and some of the luxury condos and new developments lining the shoreline, I rented a kayak from the Pro SUP Shop. Located in the parking lot behind Jamaica Bay Inn, the company specializes in stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, and offers daily rentals and lessons by professional ASI & WPA certified instructors.
During my hour tour of the harbor I paddled past million-dollar yachts and old wooden sloops. I waved to small boats passing by and barking seals sunbathing on rocks. Kayaking is not only a great way to see the harbor; it is also a good workout and very relaxing. For those looking to get into paddle boarding or kayaking, Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey is probably one of the best places in the Los Angeles area to learn.
After playing on the water, I pulled my boat ashore and headed back to the hotel for a workout in the fitness center and a nap by the pool. I then changed for dinner at Beachside Restaurant & Bar, located next to the lobby. Offering indoor and outdoor dining, the newly redesigned restaurant offers eclectic California cuisine and innovative creations by Executive Chef Victor Morales.
My meal at the Beachside began with a bowl of New England clam chowder, and Ahi tuna tartare with red Indian curry, charred peanut, cucumber, and avocado. For the main course I had the tender and delicious Meyer lemon and herb chicken with baby carrots, blue lake beans, potato puree, and lemon thyme jus.
After dinner I walked to Mother’s Beach to listen to live music at Marina del Rey’s “Food Truck Thursdays” weekly event, where gourmet food trucks and bands welcome in summer every Thursday night from 5 – 9 p.m.
In the morning I rented a bicycle from the hotel and rode to Venice Beach to lounge on the sand and play basketball.
The Jamaica Bay Inn is located at 4175 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Ray, 90292. For more info call (888) 823-5333 or visit: www.jamaicabayinn.com. For more information on visiting Marina del Rey, visit: www.visitmarinadelrey.com.