Sunny San Diego’s blue skies and pristine waters are the perfect playground for thrill-seekers looking for their next outdoor adventure. With an abundance of both aerial and aquatic activities, California’s beach city offers daredevils the chance to soar, spin, splash and dive, and even have unique animal encounters.
From flying with a raptor above the Pacific Ocean to swimming with great white sharks in Mexican waters and engaging in midair combat, the following are a few “thrill rides” to check off the bucket list on a San Diego vacation.
La Jolla’s coastal cliffs are a popular paragliding spot for thrill-seekers who dare to jump off the bluffs and soar high above Pacific waters. But, what makes this experience unique in San Diego is doing so alongside a falcon. Parahawking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience offered at the Torrey Pines Glideport by Fly With a Bird. A trained raptor freely leads the way alongside a tandem glider, whenever both the weather and bird agree the time is right.
There’s no greater adrenaline rush than jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet. Whether skydiving inland or along the coast, San Diego offers a variety of scenery for those who want to take the plunge and see San Diego from a bird’s-eye view. For a less extreme but still exhilarating experience, iFLY San Diego offers indoor skydiving in the heart of Mission Valley. Certified flight instructors teach you how to maneuver the air currents of their powerful wind tunnel.
With Sky Combat Ace, daredevils can ride shotgun while skilled pilots carry out unimaginable feats. Think midair aerobatic spins of up to 420 degrees per second, air combat engagements and pulling up to 8 G’s. This unique tour company in El Cajon, located 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, offers aerial rides and dogfighting experiences aboard aerobatic airplanes flown by professionally trained fighter pilots. Choose an extreme flight with aerobatic spins, rolls and tumbles and competitive air combat maneuvers. Or, opt for a more relaxing sightseeing flight.
Jetpacking, Flyboarding and Hoverboarding
Live out your superhero dreams by flying high above the waters of Mission Bay or San Diego Bay, powered by water propulsion jets at Aquatic Aviation. Fly up to 30 feet in the air. Skim across the water at speeds up to 30 mph. Dive below the surface of the water. Or, pull off the impossible: walking on water. Capes not required.
San Diego’s Pacific Ocean boasts a rich marine life where dolphins and seals are a year-round sighting. But one of the most impressive creatures to call these waters home is the feared, yet highly misunderstood, shark. San Diego tour companies offer cageless shark diving off La Jolla Cove’s waters. Novice and experienced divers can get up close and personal with leopard, blue, mako, sevengill and hammerhead sharks. For a life-changing experience, Shark Diver offers 6-day great white shark cage-diving expeditions from San Diego to Mexico’s volcanic island of Isla Guadalupe.
High Speed Water Sports
San Diego’s waters are a playground for an array of water sports. Try sea-kayaking, jet-skiing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, parasailing and California’s official sport – surfing. For a skill-free, fast paced experience, board the Patriot Jet Boat. This 30-minute ride splashes and speeds through San Diego Bay’s scenic waters, carving 360-degree turns and reaching speeds upwards of 50 mph.