Robert Arends

Escape to the Tropics of San Diego’s Mission Bay

Mission Bay Aquatic Park, a tropical escape!

Tropical Mission Bay Aquatic Park

You don’t have to fly hours to the South Pacific to feel warm ocean breezes, see swaying palm trees and wiggle your toes in soft white sand beaches while enjoying spectacular crimson sunsets.

Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic playground just north of downtown San Diego, features all that and much more: SeaWorld San Diego (celebrating its 50th anniversary), beachside resorts and restaurants, boating and recreational facilities…even luaus!

Mission Bay was first discovered in 1542 by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who named it “False Bay” because of its shallow lagoons and saltwater marshes. Dredging in the late 1940s through the ’60s created what we see today: the largest man-made aquatic park in the United States!

An early historian envisioned Mission Bay would become the Venice of America. Well, it didn’t quite become a gondolier’s dream, but rather a tropical retreat better suited to its sparkling location on the Pacific.

[Tweet “Experience a little slice of vacation paradise in #SanDiego at these scenic spots on #MissionBay:”]

To experience a little slice of vacation paradise, look no further than these scenic spots on Mission Bay:

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Paradise Point Resort, a tropical oasis on Mission Bay!

Paradise Point Resort, a tropical oasis on Mission Bay!

The name says it all! For over half a century this oasis on a private peninsula has lured travelers looking for a dreamy island escape.

> Find out more about the Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Fun summer luau at Catamaran Resort, Mission Bay

Fun summer luau at Catamaran Resort, Mission Bay

The Catamaran Resort is as Hawaiian as it gets, with lava-like fountains, tropical landscaping, live parrots and entertaining summer luaus!

> Find out more about the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Bahia Resort Hotel

Bahia Resort Hotel

Live like your own your own island at the Bahia Resort Hotel

The Brazilian-themed Bahia Resort, located on a secluded 14-acre peninsula, surrounds guests with island-inspired beauty from exotic palms and a rainbow of colorful flowers to splashing streams.

> Find out more about the Bahia Resort Hotel

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Poolside at the tropical Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Poolside at the tropical Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

The luxe and lovely Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa is a romantic paradise of lush, tropical surroundings.

> Find out more about the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

The Dana on Mission Bay

Cool tiki at The Dana on Mission Bay!

Cool tiki at The Dana on Mission Bay!

The Dana on Mission Bay is also pretty as a postcard with its 10 tropically landscaped acres – tikis and all! (for tiki fans, check out my list of fun San Diego tiki finds)

> Find out more about The Dana on Mission Bay

> Discover even more Tropical Fun in Mission Bay

Bring your leis and grass skirts and ease into the island vibe you’ll find on Mission Bay! 🙂

Brent Bernasconi

A Taste of the South Pacific at the Catamaran in San Diego

No need to spend hours traveling to explore the atmosphere and culture of the South Pacific when you can visit San Diego’s beaches during the day and enjoy the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa’s Summer Sunset Luau at night!

The Catamaran’s tropical decor and waterfront setting are enough to make you say “Alooooooha!”, but add to it a traditional lei and delicious mai tai welcome(for those of legal drinking age :-)) accompanied by live Hawaiian music and your hips will hula in no time.

The feast and festivities begin with the grand arrival of the Kalua Pig. The mouth-watering buffet includes tropical delights of fresh fruit, green salads, miso glazed salmon with ginger lime cream, guava chicken with grilled pineapple and shredded coconut, and much more. It may be a challenge, but remember to leave room for a slice of pineapple upside-down cake or coconut cream cake.

As the sun begins to set, all eyes turn to the stage as the Pride of Polynesia Dance Revue takes you on a visual and interactive journey through the South Pacific with traditional music and dances from the Polynesian Islands. The evening is capped off with a mesmerizing Samoan fire dance.

Don’t miss out! Enjoy the wonderful traditions of the South Pacific in San Diego!

Summer Sunset Luau Information

Location: Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa
Address: 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (map)
Dates: Tuesdays and Fridays from Late June through August
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM


Katie S.

Say Aloha to an Authentic Hawaiian Luau

The people I beat out for the buffet

The people I beat out for the buffet

Last week I was lucky enough to attend Kona Kai Resort’s first luau of the summer. Having only experienced a luau in Hawaii when I was all of 11 years old, I had no idea what I was in for. Was I supposed to bring my own hula skirt? Did you have to eat the luau pig in the pit? And if you’re a vegetarian, is there a pit-roasted tofu pig? These are things I was eager to find out.

The luau was completely sold-out, and for good reason. The setting was directly on the beach in Shelter Island, and the weather was gorgeous. My husband and I were greeted with leis and escorted to our tables, where we had a direct view of the water, the stage, and were in close proximity to the buffet table. After grabbing some Mai Tai’s, we were set. I was happy to have left my grass skirt at home, as I would have been the only one besides the dancers wearing one.

Is the view from your dinner table this gorgeous?

Is the view from your dinner table this gorgeous?

The sunset over the water was gorgeous, and truly added to the tropical atmosphere. The Hawaiian band was the perfect touch to the evening, and we were able to enjoy a dinner show of music and Polynesian dances while chowing down on our food. No one made me eat the luau pig or judged my plate of delicious salad, sticky rice, Hawaiian rolls, coconut creme brulee, and additional macadamia nut cookies. Hey, I was there to tell you about my experience, and I needed to experience two desserts.

The Kona Kai summer luaus will continue on Friday evenings on July 17, 24, 31, and August 14. It’s a great idea for a date or a night out with friends and family, and if you’re there for a special occasion they announce it on stage. So if you’re looking to score points with your in-laws in town celebrating their anniversary, I’d suggest you make reservations for the next luau ASAP.