A mild climate and steady winds make San Diego the ultimate playground for boating of all kinds. From sabots to super yachts, cruise ships to catamarans, recreation to racing, San Diego is the place to get out on the water. Adding sailing and boating to your vacation itinerary is a breeze with numerous charter, rental and instructional services, plus dinner cruises, sport fishing, scuba diving excursions, whale watching and other ocean-going outings.
San Diego's three harbors - Oceanside, Mission Bay and The Big Bay (including Point Loma Peninsula, Coronado, the Downtown Waterfront and Chula Vista) - all offer marina facilities, boat rentals, private charters, boat tours, scheduled excursions and boating classes. Small boats and kayaks can also be rented along the coast and at some of San Diego's inland lakes. Boat owners will find ample locations to launch, moor or repair their vessels, whether they're taking a spin around the bay, or making a stopover on an around-the-world cruise.
A great way to see San Diego’s Big Bay is on a narrated boat tour. San Diego has a number of tour operators including Hornblower and Flagship, two of the largest. See the beautiful San Diego skyline and local landmarks, plus get up close and personal with marine animals, including whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins, as you kick back and relax on the water. These operators also offer dinner, brunch and some holiday cruises.
From downtown, you can also hop aboard the Coronado Ferry at Broadway Pier for a scenic ride across the bay to Coronado Ferry Landing.
For more adventurous boaters, the open ocean awaits. Long range sportfishermen often head 100 miles or more offshore, while Catalina Island is a favorite destination for coastal sailing enthusiasts. Cruise ships offer routes from San Diego to Mexico and beyond. Summer and Fall are the most predictable seasons to go to sea in San Diego, but if you’re manning your own vessel, make sure to check government agencies such as The National Weather Service or the San Diego Lifeguard Service for current information and forecasts to ensure your safety.
San Diego's affinity for boating has a long history, extending back to early Pacific explorers like Juan Cabrillo who stepped into history as the first European to set foot in California in San Diego bay in 1542. An excellent natural harbor and important stop on the California Mission circuit, San Diego's marine traffic grew rapidly during the colonial period and into the early 20th Century. Even before the Naval buildup during and following the Second World War, San Diego had already established itself in the boatbuilding, tuna fishing and shipping industries. Yachting and sailboat racing were a popular pastime - a continuing tradition that has spawned America's Cup races, boats and crews.
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