You haven’t seen San Diego until you’ve seen it from the water, so make time to enjoy one of the region’s harbor cruises. Pick a reason for a cruise and you’ll be sure to find a company that can meet that need: prime rib dinner cruise, brunch cruise, whale watching, take the yacht as a ferry or water taxi to a sporting event or convention, or join friends and family for a wedding, anniversary, or birthday celebration.
A harbor cruise tour takes you away from the hustle and bustle, and shows how closely the city is tied to its maritime heritage. It’s a great way to rest your feet and get some great city views or watch sea lions lounging on a buoy.
San Diego Bay is considered to be one of the best natural harbors on the western coasts of North American continent and is surrounded by dozens of nautical sights. Tours could include sailing past the North Island Naval Air Station, Naval Submarine Base, Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Lighthouse, Sea Lions and Dolphin Training Center, USS Midway, Coronado Bay Bridge, and Hotel Del Coronado.
Several museum ships call San Diego Bay home. These include the USS Midway and the Star of India. The Star of India and several other boats and ships on San Diego Bay are the floating collection of the San Diego Maritime Museum and are open to the public.
While cruising you’ll pass many small boats — sail boats and yachts. The bay is lined with dozens of marinas and nine yacht clubs, including the San Diego Yacht Club, which was the home of the America’s Cup from 1988 to 1995.
Be on the lookout for a migrating birds, because the San Diego Bay is below the Pacific Flyway. Public access to the bay and wetlands, with walking trails and educational exhibits is provided at the Chula Vista Nature Center.
In the northern part of the bay are two islands — Harbor Island and Shelter Island — which were originally built up from former sand bars. They hold hotels, restaurants, marinas, and public parkland. Across from Harbor Island is a bayside park called Spanish Landing, a historic site that commemorates the meeting in 1769 of two expeditions from Spanish Mexico that made possible the European settlement of California. A dozen other parks are found at various locations along the shoreline.
The U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Marine Corps all have facilities alongside the bay. The Naval Air Station North Island is the home port of several aircraft carriers including the USS Ronald Regan.