Get the Flash Player to see this player.In a state known for its beauty, San Diego manages to somehow stand out from the crowd…especially if you’re a PWC enthusiast. Situated at the very southern tip of California, the city enjoys beautiful weather, offers a vibrant downtown, an active population, and best of all, one big watery playground right outside its doors.
In fact, you could say it’s probably a perfect place to ride a PWC… which is probably why Kawasaki invited me there to ride its 2010 line. (In answer to the obvious question, yes, I do love my job, and no, I won’t be retiring soon. Sorry.)
Kawasaki is probably shrewd to showcase its models out in the Pacific. After all, the cornerstones of the line are the Ultras, big, solid, stable, powerful machines seemingly made for the ocean. They’re favorites of offshore racers for good reason. But I’ve written about them already. Now it’s time to tell the travel side of this story.
Thanks to Kawasaki, I had the luxury of staying at the beautiful Paradise Point Resort on Mission Bay. It’s a great spot to base out of for a trip like this, with cool villas, great waterfront views, and a marina (with PWC rentals readily available). It’s also got Baleen’s Restaurant, where we happily ate two nights in a row, and the Barefoot Bar & Grill, which serves up a great breakfast if you’re trying to fuel up for a day on the water.
Travel trips are hit and miss in terms of weather, but San Diego was near perfect. Out trip morning dawned with beautiful blue skies and glassy conditions out in the Pacific. Kawasaki’s Jon Rall, Russ Brenan, and photographer Andrea Wilson all joined me for the ride, and we ventured out of Mission Bay with expectations of a great day.
For guys like me who live on the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, one of the coolest things about the Pacific is its color. Rather than a green, it’s a deep blue, especially on a calm morning like this. The other coolest thing is the sea lions. Find any channel marker, and chances are it’s filled with these easy-going creatures, all sunning themselves. I’m sure locals get used to them, but for me they’re still a novelty, so I always break out the camera.
Our itinerary for the day is to head south to San Diego Bay, a relatively short ride down the coastline. Kelp beds are reported near shore, so we head out a decent ways into the ocean before heading south, paralleling the California coast. It’s glassy, but with decent swells, so the trip south is a chance to play a little with the Ultras we’re riding. We jump some waves, play around for Andrea and her camera, and enjoy the view. Ultimately we make it to the entrance to San Diego Bay…and true, sensory overload.
For those that have never witnessed it, heading into San Diego Bay is like asking the Navy and Coast Guard to play show and tell. Everywhere you look something is coming…or going. Just on the way into the bay we were passed by a Coast Guard ship, a Navy ship, some Zodiacs with Navy Seals likely heading out for training, numerous helicopters and jets overhead, and yes, the occasional pleasure boat. Trust me, the commotion doesn’t spoil it. Instead, it’s almost surreal, a beautiful waterfront city abuzz with lots of the country’s favorite toys.
And that’s not even counting what you see once you get within the harbor. Scan the horizon and you’ll see aircraft carriers, submarines, vintage tall ships, modern cruise ships, beautiful architecture, and that gorgeous Southern California backdrop. And that’s not even counting the international airport and private airport, both nearly waterfront, further contributing to the sights in the skies.
It’s hectic, but strangely intoxicating. And I couldn’t think of a better way to take it all in than coming in by water.
We take the time to check out the downtown waterfront, get the obligatory pictures by the submarine, pirate ship, cruise ship, and aircraft carrier, then head under the Coronado Bridge and deeper into the bay. Ultimately, we end up at Loews Hotels Coronado Bay Resort for lunch. Like most trips like this, I’m sure we entertain the business lunch crowd as we tromp through the lobby and into the restaurant clad in our wetsuits and dripping booties. But hey, let’s be honest — they probably all wish they were us on a day like this.
Lunch was great, but the stop allowed the winds to kick up, making the return ride north a little more of a challenge. Thankfully the Ultras played their roles to perfection, keeping us safe and in control during a speedy ride home. Numerous kelp beds made it difficult to stay closer to shore, so we headed out into the Pacific and made an arcing course back to Mission Bay. The waves were a challenge at times, but conditions like that can be fun as well. We arrived back at Paradise Point nice and salty, but with some pretty big grins from our playtime in the ocean.
This is a relatively easy trip that nearly anyone can duplicate, and I highly recommend it. Great riding spots are scarce in Southern California, but an entire ocean is waiting. San Diego is definitely a highlight, but there are numerous other cities up the coast as well. All are just waiting to be explored.
In fact, the only real downside I could find was that I was scheduled to leave the next morning. Kudos to Kawasaki on a great trip…
But next time, maybe I should extend that itinerary by a few days.