Explore the Treasured Islands of San Diego Bay!

Birds-eye view of Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island

Birds-eye view of Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island

Did you know…San Diego Bay is home to three unique islands, located real close to downtown San Diego? Their names are Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Coronado Island. Truth be told they’re technically peninsulas, two of which are man-made (Harbor and Shelter). But they sure feel like island getaways, worlds away from the every day.

In fact, Shelter Island was specifically created to be “San Diego’s Hawaiian Isle” – a tropical escape without having to spend hours on a plane to the South Pacific. Join me on a voyage to all three islands, highlighting the coolest sights on each:

Shelter Island

Shelter Island is a fun fav with its swaying palms, Hawaiian architecture and other Polynesian touches. Top 5 don’t miss sights are:

1. Bali Hai Restaurant

Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island's "tiki temple"

Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island’s “tiki temple”

San Diego’s original tiki temple, featuring tiki icons Mr. Bali Hai and The Goof on the Roof, plus strong Mai Tais, fabulous views and Polynesian dishes.

2. Kona Kai Resort

Beach at Kona Kai Resort

Enjoy your own private beach – with drink service! – at Kona Kai Resort

The newly renovated Kona Kai Resort with its own private sandy beach (yep!) and chic new Vessel Restaurant.

3. Fathom Bistro

Fathom Bistro on the Shelter Island pier, a best-kept secret serving 15 beers on tap, gourmet hotdogs and sausages.

4. Pacific Portal sculpture

Pacific Portal sculpture on Shelter Island

Pacific Portal sculpture on Shelter Island

The giant seashell-looking Pacific Portal sculpture by James Hubbell, “San Diego’s Gaudi”!

5. Yokohama Friendship Bell

The Japanese-style pagoda that houses the Yokohama Friendship Bell, a gift from San Diego’s sister city Yokohama.

Coronado Island

Coronado Island is called the “Crown City” for good reason. It’s a postcard-perfect jewel on the bay. Top 5 must-sees on the bayside:

1. Coronado Island Marriott Resort

Catching some rays in Coronado Island Marriott's double hammocks.

Catching some rays in Coronado Island Marriott’s double hammocks.

Relaxing double hammocks at Coronado Island Marriott Resort for afternoon siestas.

2. Gondola Rides

Authentic Italian gondola rides at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

3. Coronado Ferry Landing

Bike & Kayak Tours' kayak adventure from Coronado Ferry Landing

Bike & Kayak Tours’ kayak adventure from Coronado Ferry Landing

Coronado Ferry Landing, featuring a small sandy beach (great for kids!), “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” at Stephen Clayton Gallery, affordable rides on the Coronado Ferry and San Diego’s only urban kayak tour.

4. Candelas on the Bay

Authentic Mexico-style cuisine at Candelas on the Bay. Their Sunday brunch buffet is phenomenal!

5. Shoreline Park

Shoreline Park, a secret “pocket park” on the bay that’s the perfect place to chill out or picnic away from the hustle and bustle.

Harbor Island

Harbor Island is blessed by its super convenient location across the street from San Diego International Airport. Top 3 must-sees:

1. Island Prime-C Level Lounge

Primo bay views and food at Island Prime restaurant

Prime bay views and food can be found at Island Prime on Harbor Island

For fine dining, Island Prime-C Level Lounge with its bayside setting and succulent seafood and steaks is second-to-none.

2. Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Check out the renovated landmark Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, a fully functioning lighthouse and restaurant with the best Sunday brunch on the island.

3. Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina

Sheraton San Diego Hotel Pool and Marina

Water activities about at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island

Rest your head at Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina with its two sleek towers overlooking the bay. It’s very family friendly and even offers a Bayfront Shuttle ($1 per person) to nearby waterfront attractions like the USS Midway Museum, Maritime Museum of San Diego and Seaport Village.

Here’s to a fantastic summer of island vibes and good times on San Diego Bay! 🙂

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Robert Arends

About Robert Arends

I’m a native San Diegan and man of many hats: PR, roadside America traveler/backyard tourist (especially our mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert), photographer (motto: capture the moment!), music fan, sci-fi buff, tiki collector and constant gardener.
What would you do on your ideal San Diego day?
I would spend the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. It’s like swimming in a huge aquarium – Garibaldi fish, lobsters, sea lions, oh my!
If you were invisible, where would you go?
I’d go surfing in Coronado. I’ve never surfed, but have always wanted to. If I was invisible no one would see me fall (again and again! – LOL).
What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?
Walking the Prado in Balboa Park; feels like I’m in Spain. The architecture is amazing!  I also enjoy hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the annual wildflowers and exploring the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument.
Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?
Linguine and red wine (wine list, please!), with tableside views of San Diego Bay.
Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…
Magic Man: Paris, Bear Hands: Giants, Capital Cities: I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo, Man Man: Head On, London Grammar: Nightcall (Freemasons Remix).
Follow Robert on Twitter @groovestar

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