Consider a weekend jaunt to breezy San Diego. It’s more than just a pretty bay. Turns out, San Diego’s waterfront is loaded with all types of ocean adventures, from speedboating with sea lions to fine dining and mai tais. And it’s all only a two-hour drive south.
Whether you're planning a family outing, couples retreat or a singles getaway, here are a few ideas:
You don't have to travel to Tahiti for a shark soiree — they're as close as La Jolla. And you can snorkle alongside large groups of them.
"At the height of the summer, you may be swimming with as many as 100 leopard sharks," said Marcella DiMichieli, president of Bike and Kayak Tours Inc. (www.sandiegobikeandkayaktours.com), which offers seasonal leopard shark encounters.
Beginning in late spring, these harmless bottom-dwellers migrate to the calm, shallow waters of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park, where they cruise along the flat, sandy sea bottom.
"It's an amazing experience to be floating above these beautiful creatures," DiMichieli said. "They range from 3- to 6-feet in length —- but don't worry, they're totally harmless."
Snorkel with the Sharks tours are offered daily through September. Reservations are required.
"The sea lions are huge favorites," Boone said. "We'll see 50 to 80 of them, sunning, swimming and playing on the barge. And we see dolphins daily."
Renovated last year, Bali Hai Restaurant (www.balihairestaurant.com) on Shelter Island mixes midcentury tiki chic with "world famous mai tais and 300-degree harbor views," according to Larry Baumann, co-owner of venerable Bali Hai.
"We use the original Trader Vic's mai tai recipe," Baumann said.
Peohe’s (www.peohes.com) on Coronado Island is another hot spot for spectacular harbor views and contemporary Hawaii-style cuisine. David Bland, the new executive chef, said the pupu platters and grilled Chilean seabass are very popular.