San Diego is a port city with bays, marinas, and miles of Pacific ocean as far north and as far south as the eye can see. While some travelers are content to hang out on the beach, drink at local breweries, or otherwise sit on the sidelines, the more adventurous-spirited among us want to cast off the lines and leave the dock. At least for the afternoon. 

The English poet Bryan Procter captured the sentiment of someone who craves adventure on the water:  "The sea! the sea! the open sea! / The blue, the fresh, the ever free!" On that note, here are five ways you could have an adventure on the water during your next visit to San Diego, with little or no prior experience on the high seas required.


If it's adventure on the high seas that you seek, you might consider spending an unforgettable few hours whale watching in San Diego. Gray, fin, and humpback whales swim through the area from December through April; blue, minke, fin, and humpback whales can often be found May through December. So there's a decent chance, no matter what time of year, that you might see a whale up close and personal. Otherwise, there are often dolphins and amazing views.


You've known since grade school that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It is because the sun sets in the west that a sunset in San Diego is an unforgettable and romantic thing to see. Imagine how much more romantic it will be on a sailboat. Sunset cruises are usually intimate with groups of less than six people, and if you've ever dreamed of sailing, this is a way to get out on the water that you might not want to pass by.


Before we get to the more daring suggestions, let's explore something on the mild side. Of all the ways to find yourself on a boat, a slow jaunt around the harbor on a cruise ship is one of the more tame. Not everyone wants the salt spray in their hair, or to spend precious vacation hours without an adult beverage in hand.  

One company, Hornblower Cruises & Events, will take you out for a three hour dinner cruise around San Diego Bay. The staff will serve you a glass of champagne or sparkling cider as you board, and the company offers vegetarian, gluten-free, and kids meal options by request. Part of the appeal of the tour is that your view of San Diego from the boat changes with each course of the three-course dinner, and if you've ever had the opportunity to see San Diego from the deck of a boat in San Diego Bay, you know what a glorious spectacle it is.


A kayak is a small vessel, sure, but one likely to unlock a big adventure. With all its inlets, bays, and harbors, San Diego is a place where no two afternoons on a kayak need be the same. Rent one on Shelter Island and you'll paddle through moored sailboats until you find yourself with a breathtaking view of the downtown skyline. Visit Mission Bay and explore the little beachheads, and let your imagination run away with you. For the more adventurous kayaker, rent a sea kayak in La Jolla and paddle into the open ocean, where you can explore sea life and sea caves. 

But maybe you want a water adventure without needing to propel the seacraft yourself. Well, we've got suggestions for that, too.


Not everyone is content to let someone else do the driving. This kind of adventurer wants to be the skipper of their own vessel, and might go for an activity like a power boat rental at SD Adventures. Don't worry if you've never helmed a boat before - the rental company would teach you everything you need to know.

In closing, nothing captures the romantic spirit quite like being out on the water, and there are ways to get out there that suit just about any budget and desired level of adventure. As the American poet Silas Weir Mitchell wrote,  "Up anchor! Up anchor! / Set sail and away! / The ventures of dreamland / Are thine for a day."