The California Coast is supposed to be beautiful and according to friends I have in La Jolla, nothing beats that little section. In Spanish, La Jolla means “the jewel,” an apt name for a pretty, Mediterranean-style seaside town – sitting on cliffs flanking the ocean.
La Jolla visitors like to shop and eat in the nice restaurants, some of them with lovely ocean views. There’s a lot for the active visitor, too, including ocean kayaking, tide pool-hopping, surfing at Windansea Beach, biking or running along the waterfront.
Coronado Island is a little strip of land that isn’t really an island but a peninsula – a fact that doesn’t get in the way of the name most people use for it. Whatever you call it, it’s on a slender strip of land between the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, barely a few blocks wide. What it lacks in size it makes up for in fun, with a beach that’s been named among the best in the country, a classic hotel and a compact, lively little downtown. Coronado’s laid-back temperament makes a nice break from the busier parts of San Diego across the water.
What is a visit to a ocean front location without a harbor cruise. It’s almost as important as that trolley tour to get the layout. Water plays a prominent role in San Diego. Downtown faces it. Point Loma and Coronado surround the large, calm bay. There’s a lot to see along its shores and much of it is best explored by boat.
Everyone love the views of downtown you can get from a San Diego harbor cruise, but you’ll also get a peek at the Pacific Fleet – and a harbor cruise is the best way to get a feel for just how tall the Coronado Bridge really is. The bay is well protected and the water seldom rough.
The cruises make two out-and-back trips, one toward Point Loma and the other past the Coronado Bridge, the Navy Seals Training Base and military ships. The boat stops at the dock in between, making it easy for you to take just one leg or both. Opt for a brunch or dinner cruise and you can see it all while having a nice meal.
The first European to set foot in California was the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who stepped on shore near this spot in 1542. He’s the guy they made this statue to look like – and named the park after, Cabrillo National Monument. We don’t know if Cabrillo climbed all the way up to the top of this promontory or not, but people who make it up here nowadays get some of the best views of San Diego, looking across the Bay and back toward downtown.
Besides the great views, there’s a historic lighthouse, a visitor center, some nice tide pools down below and good whale-watching in the winter.