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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Lil’ Toot

I’ve only gotten to spend a half-hour on the water this summer, which is no good, but riding the Lil’ Toot sure was fun! (Content created for www.edhat.com)

Loading at the Wharf.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get on the water in Santa Barbara, look no further than the friendly crew of the Lil’ Toot.

This water taxi service runs from Stearns Wharf to the Harbor and back, departing twice an hour from each location, year- round.

The friendly yellow service, piloted by Captain Fred Hershman, can measure its success by imitation – recently a copycat water taxi was launched in Ventura.

With a one-way fare of just $4 for adults and $1 for kids, the Lil’ Toot is an affordable way to get a closer look at Santa Barbara’s harbor, learn a little bit about the animals and boats, and feel the sea breeze blowing in your face. We highly recommend it, especially for families with kids.

Many visitors ride the taxi one way and then walk back to their vehicle or hotel. That’s a great way to see some of Santa Barbara’s waterfront and get a little exercise.

Here are our top five reasons the Lil’ Toot is great fun.

Get out on the wharf. In case you missed it, read all about the many reasons to visit Stearns Wharf right here. You’ll find the Lil’ Toot boarding ramp about three-quarters of the way to the end of the Wharf, on the left hand side.

Watching the boats go by.

You’ll get a better idea of what’s there is to do on the water in Santa Barbara. Whether it is surfing, kayaking, fishing, paddle boating, sailing, swimming or sunbathing, you can see just about all water-based activities from the picture windows of the Lil’ Toot. There are more options on the water in Santa Barbara than in many coastal towns because of our beautiful protected harbor. Kayakers and paddle boaters waved to us as we passed them en route from the harbor to the wharf. The sailors learning to sail Sea Shells from the Sailing Center made for a beautiful photograph.

Learning to sail.

Meet the friendly staff and captain. From the ticket-taker to Captain Fred and crew, the Lil Toot is all about friendliness and hospitality. They know the harbor inside and out. Captain Fred has been piloting the water taxi service for eight years and has stories about the various boats you’ll see in the harbor, as well as the wildlife that live there. The boat also offers cruises for private parties if you are looking for something different to do with a group.

Captain Fred.

See some sea life. This summer the Lil Toot crew shared their insight with Edhat about lots of animals that make the waterfront their home. Read about Shaquille O’Seal the Sea Lion, cormorants cormorants, sea critters on the wharf pilings, and the White Sea Bass restoration project. See a nice shot of sunset on the waterfront from the boat.

Harbor hangout.

Kids get to drive. And not just the little ones, either. A grandmother from South Carolina and her two grandsons all took a turn “piloting” the boat during our recent cruise. We dare say that Grandma had more fun. (Captain Fred is really driving, but you get to toot the taxi whistle, too.) And don’t miss the bubbles that emit from the smokestack .. they add a particularly whimsical note to the Lil’ Toot cruise experience.

Fun for all ages.


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