One of my core memories is of a beach trip. I was about five years old, and the sun was setting over a cove on Point Loma Peninsula, San Diego.
I had spent the whole day catching fish in the rock pools and playing rounders with my cousins on the sugar-white sands. As the sky turned orange-purple – a shade you can only see in California sunsets during summertime, I proudly returned home with a bucket full of seashells, towel around my neck. There was a taste of salt in my mouth. Even now, I can still recall that scenery vividly.
Perhaps that’s why, for me, San Diego is always the top choice for a beach getaway. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: Every year, 35 million tourists flock here to soak in the sunlight, sample quintessential Mexican cuisine and embark on thrilling water adventures. With countless water sports and activities, some of which you may have never heard of, this is truly a haven for the wildest souls.
If you can’t sit still for more than two minutes and would love to fill your vacation with adrenaline-pumping experiences, read on! Here are the top water activities in San Diego that will get you moving while staying cool under the West Coast sun!
For The Eco-Conscious Vacationers
Since young Americans have grown up with much exposure to the effects of global warming, many of them have adopted the principles of a “green” lifestyle. As a result, eco-friendly vacations are more trendy than ever, especially among millennials and gen Z.
If you want to have a minimal impact on the earth’s resources while still enjoying your getaway to the fullest, you’ve chosen the perfect destination! In the last few decades, the San Diego City Council has been implementing many programs to reduce the town’s greenhouse gas emissions. The most notable one is the Eco Boat Rentals project. According to tourists, riding these boats is one of the most amazing water activities in San Diego.
So what makes them stand out? Well, the ones you can rent at Eco Boat Rentals are pedal boats. As the name suggests, they are propelled by pedals. You keep them moving using your legs, like riding a bike. Since these boats are so easy to use, anyone can go on a ride without previous experience.
Going on a pedal boat tour is a fun experience for boat newbies or anyone who wants a leisurely adventure around the bay. Unlike the classic models, which can only accommodate two people, those you can rent in San Diego hold up to three adults, one child, and even some pets. Hence, they are not only eco-friendly but also made for some quality time with your family or friends.
Here’s a pro tip from me: Make sure you pack your lunch or some snacks so you can enjoy yourself on the boat while taking in the stunning views of the coastline!
For The Sealife Lovers
For marine life fans, San Diego’s coastline is a heaven on earth. The Circle City is rich in biological diversity, including exotic ones like green sea turtles, blue whales, sea lions, and so on.
From up-close sea animal encounters to the wonderful ream of bioluminescence, these water activities will excite sealife enthusiasts and aspiring oceanographers!
Water Activities In San Diego – Snorkel With Leopard Sharks
For me, the best way to explore sea life is to put on a wetsuit, mask, and fins, then snorkel through the magnificent underwater sanctuary. Though not as adrenaline-pumping as other water activities in San Diego, snorkeling is well-loved by many adventurers. If you don’t have the proper equipment, don’t worry, you can always rent them for less than $10 a day!
What’s waiting for us under the water? Exotic fish, lobster, octopus, and crabs are hiding among the rocky reefs of the shores! Brave tourists can even get an up-close look at stingrays and friendly leopard sharks who call the area home.
Aside from swimming with aquatic creatures, you can slow down to admire the various size, shapes, and hues of live corals. The colorful show they put on can surely get you staggered.
Largely unexplored, the ocean is mysterious and full of life. This can be your first step to uncovering it!
Explore Tide Pools
Does the term sound strange to you? Well, tide pooling is yet to gain as much popularity as other water activities like kayaking, stand-up paddling, or snorkeling. But trust me: It’s wonderful for those who want to get a dose of fresh ocean air and discover some of the fascinating creatures San Diego offers. And the best part? It’s completely free!
Every day, the gravitational forces of the sun and moon lead to changes in the sea level, or “tides”. The part of the shoreline filled during high tides but more exposed during low tides is known as the “intertidal zone”. When the tide retreats, some seawater is still trapped in these zones, and creatures in that water get trapped too. As a result, you can see tide pools!
Going on tide pooling means walking by the coastline to find exposed tide pools. By doing this, you can get a glimpse at all the previously hidden habitats. These pools always brim with surprises since you wouldn’t know what you will find in them.
Tide pooling is a great activity for families with kids to enjoy together: It’s relaxing, exciting, and truly educational. Children and adults alike will enjoy the novelty of it all!
For The Traveling Love Birds
Are you traveling to the dreamy beaches of San Diego with your soulmate? I can give you an endless list of things to do in San Diego as a couple, but still, nothing beats a gondola ride. Hey, does the word “gondola” remind you of all the sweet scenes from your favorite movies?
That’s right: An evening drifting along Venice’s canals is probably the most romantic experience on earth. The City of Water is thousands of miles away, but you can have that experience right here, in the Pacific Ocean.
Snuggle up under a blanket with your sweetie as you sail through Coronado Cays’ canals. Wine will be served, and you can set the mood with the services of a musician.
According to your preferences and budget, there are two options: A ride for up to six guests or a private one. To prepare for your trip, make a reservation here.
With the bay on one side and the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean on the other, a gondola ride will surely become an unforgettable memory for you both!
For The Adrenaline Junkies
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” Neale Donald Walsch once said. And there is no better place to go out, challenge yourself, and seek adventures than San Diego. Really, the landscape here is an ideal backdrop to embark on some outdoor thrills.
So last but not least, let’s explore the adrenaline-pumping activities in the City of Motion. Sorry for keeping you waiting, thrill-seekers out there, but I save the best for last!
Water Activities In San Diego – Rent A Jet Ski
Guaranteed there will be speed, screams, and plenty of splashes when you go jet skiing on the water of San Diego Bay.
The motor-minded can rent and launch a jet ski anywhere at the harbor. One of the main reasons this high-octane sport has become so popular is that it provides a tremendous thrill without much risk. Riding a jet ski is relatively quick to learn, and as long as you put on a lifejacket and follow the safety guideline, it’s incredibly safe. You can even bring a companion to discover all the amazing findings you normally wouldn’t see.
Are you searching for a change of pace from casual activities? Hop on a jet ski, and within seconds, you won’t be bored any longer!
Go Jet Packing, Hoverboarding, And Flyboarding
All these options will make your superhero dreams come true as you soar high above the water of the Pacific Ocean, powered by water propulsion jets. Based on the gears you choose, you can fly more than 30 ft in the air, skim across the water at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, dive beneath the ocean’s surface, and even walk on water!
Whether you are looking for group activities or things to do by yourself in San Diego, jetpacking would be a wonderful option.
For your first try, I’d recommend jetpacking. It’s easier to learn and doesn’t require much strength to operate. While it allows for greater freedom of movement, the flyboard also requires more muscular control. Meanwhile, the hoverboard is quite similar to riding a snowboard on steroids, and riders should have experience with snowboarding, wakeboarding, or surfing.
Water Activities In San Diego – Go Kite Surfing
We wrap up this list with the latest water sport craze: Kite surfing. You don’t have to go all the way to Panama beach to try it out!
In case you haven’t witnessed this exciting and vibrant sport, think of it as a cross between paragliding and wakeboarding. Kiters strap into short boards and use a harness to secure their giant kites.
Kite surfing near San Diego bay
Unlike windsurfing, which involves jibing and tacking, kiteboarders may take advantage of the wind while going against it. They can head in any direction by fine-tuning their kite, pivoting the board, and going forward.
Many youngsters challenge themselves with kitesurfing since this water sport allows them to thrive in the stormy, tricky wind conditions that other surfers shun. The waves here serve as kickers for kitesurfers to catch massive air and limitless hang times.
Novices can start at the Bay’s protected area or Fiesta Island, while the pro can venture further to the Coronado Shores. Either way, this water sport is going to satisfy your inner daredevil!
Let Your Heart Take You To West Coast!
There are places so fascinating that no matter how many times you visit them, it always feels like the first time. San Diego is a place like that. You always discover something new when you set foot in this coastal town.
It could be the locals, the late-night food, or the marvelous vista before the sun gives in to the darkness. Or perhaps you will discover something about yourself through these water activities in San Diego. They provide opportunities to explore the shoreline and marine habitats, but beyond that, they also help you escape the monotony of daily life, challenge yourself, and push you out of your comfort zone.