Home to 70 miles of stunning coastline and one of the largest natural harbors in the state of California, it’s no surprise that boating has been an integral part of San Diego since the city’s inception. From the Kumeyaay people who launched tule boats from La Jolla Cove to Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who reached the city by full-rigged galleon in 1542, San Diego’s maritime culture runs deep. See America’s Finest City from the water with a breathtaking boat ride around San Diego Bay and beyond.
View Whales, Dolphins, and Sea Lions
San Diego is rich with biological diversity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the waters offshore. Head out in search of blue whales, gray whales, humpbacks, minke whales, and finback whales, as well as sea lions, seals, and dolphins with an expert-led tour. Upgrade to the luxury catamaran yacht with Davey’s Locker Whale Watching; see San Diego’s famous sunsets as you cruise around for dolphins with San Diego Whale Watch; or bring your binoculars aboard the 80-foot fiberglass boat with two glass-paneled decks through Legacy Whale Watch.
Set Sail in San Diego
Experience the excitement of cold ocean spray on your cheeks on a San Diego sailing trip. Choose from a morning sail, day trip, or romantic sunset cruise from Sail San Diego—complete with complimentary snacks and beverages. San Diego Sailing Tours offers intimate couples’ trips aboard its 36-foot yachts or full-on parties on 60-foot catamarans. History buffs will love San Diego Maritime Museum's San Salvador Sailing Adventure, which takes passengers on a recreation of Cabrillo’s original galleon. Thrill-seekers should choose an excursion with America’s Cup Sailing, during which you’ll be challenged to grind the winches of one of the fastest wind-powered vessels in the world.
Cruise San Diego Bay
Learn more about the city of San Diego or simply enjoy the open water with a relaxing cruise. Hop aboard a Flagship San Diego Harbor Cruise for narrated trips, featuring views of Shelter Island, the Star of India, Coronado Bridge, the USS Midway, and more. Take your Sunday fun day offshore with the popular live jazz Champagne Brunchfrom Hornblower Cruises. Spend an evening on the Bahia Resort Hotel’s Bahia Bell, a three-story, Mississippi-style sternwheeler that glides around Mission Bay. Late-night tours include cocktails, live DJs, and serious party vibes.
Hop on the Coronado Ferry
The journey is just as fun as the destination aboard San Diego’s aquatic transportation. The history of the Coronado Ferry dates back to 1886 when the city’s first steam-powered boat carried humans and horses from San Diego proper to Coronado Island. Today you’ll have to leave your pony behind, but you and the family can enjoy a lovely 15-minute ride to Coronado Ferry Landing for a very reasonable price. For a private ride, book the San Diego Water Taxi to take you to bayside restaurants, hotels, or just about anywhere you’d like.
Try a High-Speed Boating Adventure
If you prefer your watersports with an adrenaline kick, San Diego has plenty of options to get the heart pumping. At San Diego Speed Boat Adventures you can take the wheel of an F13 mini speed boat to zip around the bay at about 30 miles per hour. Adventure RIB Rides provides a peppy ride on a Navy SEAL Rigid Inflatable Boat. The low-profile boat lets you get up close and personal with barking sea lions and Navy-trained dolphins at work. Start your trip on land and end up in the water on SEAL Tours. Narrated tours wind their way through the city streets before the Hydra-Terra vehicle flexes its seaworthy side in San Diego Bay.