Looking for big splashy fun to cool down the summer heat?
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:
Snorkeling with sharks
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.”
A leopard shark’s mouth is as small as a quarter, and they’re afraid of everything. “Snorkelers have to literally stay still or the sharks will disappear,” she said. Underwater sightings also include rays and shovel-nosed guitar fish.
Snorkel with the Sharks tours are offered daily through September. Reservations are required.
Blue whale watching
With Navy SEALs big news, the experience of skimming across the water in an authentic Navy SEAL Rigid Inflatable Boat seems more thrilling than ever. The R.I.B. is small and fast — 30 feet long and racing up to 35 knots. Think James Bond hitting the waves for a white-knuckle chase scene.
Now you can feel the rush and watch blue whales at the same time with Adventure R.I.B. Rides (www.adventureribrides.com), which offers one of San Diego’s only whale-watching excursions.
Four blue whale pods are congregating 10 to 15 miles offshore and will stay there from June through August, said Ken Manzoni, owner of Adventure R.I.B. Rides.
“The blue whales are getting to know us,” he said. “And while we keep the lawful distance, the leviathans -— along with humpback, fin and minke whales — often swim over to see us.”
Adventure R.I.B. Rides also offers dolphin-watching tours and many other types of excursions, including picnic and lunch adventures. You can even cruise over to Humphreys Concerts by the Bay and rock out on the water, from June 7 to Oct. 25. Headliners include stars such as Billy Idol (www.humphreysconcerts.com).