PWC Travel: Los Angeles to San Diego

We go on a 140-mile ocean adventure with Kawsaki

This is the type of adventure for which for Jet Skis were made – 140 miles on the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to San Diego. And it’s safe to use the term Jet Skis, being that it’s the proper brand name of Kawasaki’s personal watercraft and what we rode for our excursion.

We were fortunate enough to tackle the Pacific aboard Kawasaki’s newest PWC, the new Ultra 300X. This three-seater is the new horsepower leader in the PWC realm. It is powered by a supercharged four-stroke engine that offers a CARB three-star Ultra Low Emissions rating while pumping out 300 horsepower. Fortunately the stable hull also excels in rough water, and we would have plenty of that during our trek.

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We had a small group for the trip that included Jon Rall from Kawasaki media relations, John Baynes from Kawasaki tech services, Robert Juniper from R&D, and Power and Motoryacht Associate Editor Kevin Koenig. Kevin actually flew in from New York for the trip, escaping the cool temps in the northeast to enjoy some California sunshine.

We traveled to Marina Del Rey the night before the ride so we could get on the water early. After a quick breakfast, we headed to the launch ramp, suited up and were on the water just after 8 a.m. Robert was our ground support, chasing us down the coast as we tackled the swells and chop that the Pacific Ocean would dish out.

PWC Travel: Suiting UpDespite warm temperatures it can get chilly on the open water. A wetsuit is highly recommended for a trip like this.

Although we had plenty of sunshine all day and temperatures in the 70s and 80s, when traveling at speeds exceeding 60 mph with water temperatures near 60 degrees, protection from the elements is crucial, so we were suited up in full wetsuits that we could peel off if it got too warm. With 140 miles or so to go, we got the skis in the water and prepared to start our voyage.

The great thing about this ride is it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for the average person. It’s no walk in the park, but it’s certainly a realistic trip. As is always the case, you never ride alone in the ocean. That’s rule number one. Beyond that, it comes down to careful, safe planning for the trip. South of LA, there are a number of fuel stops – Long Beach, Huntington Harbor, Newport Beach, Dana Point, Oceanside – along the way. Staying within a few miles of the coastline is realistic (like traditional boats, just stay about 100 yards outside of the surf line), so cell service is not an issue should you breakdown or need to call a friend or Sea Tow. We even brought a few jugs of extra fuel just in case.

PWC Travel: Pondering RideThe ride from LA to San Diego is possible for most PWC enthusiasts with some careful planning. Sheet-glass water like this, however, is only found in harbors. Depending upon the wind, the conditions and be rough. Kevin Koenig of Power & Motoryacht ponders the ride ahead.

A GPS unit is crucial for ocean riding, as is protection from the elements such as a riding jacket, sunglasses or goggles and sunscreen. Snacks and water are a must as well. Staying hydrated is important.

After idling out through the harbor in Marina Del Rey, we grabbed the throttle of our Kawasaki Ultra 300X and began the voyage to San Diego. The water in Santa Monica Bay was already a bit choppy as we made our way around the Palos Verdes Peninsula. We rode quickly through the bumpy ocean, keeping each other within a few hundred yards at all times.

Kevin from Power and Motoryacht was only on his second major ride aboard a PWC, and I was a bit rusty after having not been on a craft in at least a few years. The ocean chop, which often has no rhyme or reason, beat us up a little at the start of the ride, but my sea legs were slowly starting to come back the more miles we put in.

As we worked our way down the coast the breakwater jetty of Long Beach Harbor was a welcome site. Once inside of the jetty the water would be nice and smooth for a few miles. According to the Port of Long Beach website (, Long Beach has the second busiest harbor in the United States. It’s a great place to ride if you have never been there, as there’s plenty of protected water and the open ocean is just outside the breakwater.

PWC Travel: Refuel Long BeachThere are a number of place to refuel along he way, but Long Beach Harbor is a good stop because it’s relatively easy to access. Newport Harbor, however, takes quite a bit longer to get in and out of.

Speaking of smooth water, it was time to open the 300X up a bit to really feel the supercharged engine’s power. For a production watercraft, it certainly yanks your arms with its snappy acceleration. The blue, glassy water also gave us a chance to carve some turns on the new Jet Ski. Aside from handling the ocean swells, it can carve pretty clean turns as well. Besides, other than when making fuel stops inside harbors, this was probably the last smooth water we’d see all trip so we better enjoy it.

We stopped for fuel in the harbor to top off. Idling through the no-wake zones on the 300X was a good chance to use the no-wake 5 mph speed control, which basically requires the push of one button – pretty cool. With full tanks we got back on the open water, riding past Seal Beach, Sunset Beach and on into Huntington Beach. The water conditions had improved considerably from the rough conditions of Santa Monica Bay, and we were lucky to get smooth water for miles and miles.

We passed the Huntington Beach pier in Surf City, stopped for a few pictures and a little water, and made our way past the small jetties and pier of Newport Beach and on into the rockier coastline near Laguna Beach. The greatest part of this ride is being able to see the California coast from a different angle than usual. It’s amazing to see just how many houses are packed on the coastline. You’re surrounded by wildlife on the ride, and we were sure to stop and check out the sea lions hanging out on rocks in Laguna.

One of the coolest moments on the ride was when we came upon a pod of dolphins. The group just played and rode along with us, jumping out of the water and cruising near the front of the skis. We were able to even snap a few photos before taking off again.

Our next stop was Dana Point to grab a quick sandwich and reapply sunscreen. After pulling out of the harbor, we hugged the buoy line on our way down the coast, passing popular surf spots Trestles and the recognizable San Onofre nuclear plant before riding down the desolate area of coastline near Camp Pendleton. We then made our final fuel stop in Oceanside. It was a blast, but the first 100 miles were starting to set in. It’s an amazing ride, but it is a full day on the water, so if you ever try it bear that in mind.

We were very fortunate to have beautiful sunshine for the entire trip. The last 40 miles through the San Diego coastline was gorgeous. We passed popular beaches and surf breaks, and we even stopped to watch the hang gliders near La Jolla floating over the shoreline cliffs. We passed a few fishermen along the way (one who was cheering us on as we passed and we later had a drink with at the bar at our destination), navigated large kelp beds floating on the ocean’s surface, and were lucky enough to get some head wind in the final 20 miles to give us some launching pads to catch air on.

After roughly 140 miles of ocean riding on the Jet Skis, we pulled into Mission Bay and idled toward our hotel, the Paradise Point Resort. We were spent, but we got out of our suits and relaxed with smiles on our faces and a feeling of mission accomplished. Thanks to Kawasaki for hosting the ride. We look forward to the next adventure.

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2011 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 300X Review [Video]
PWC Travel: San Diego
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