san diego downtown bay with boats

San Diego’s Best Sailing, Whale Watching, & Fishing Spots

Ready to soak up some California sunshine and spend some time on the San Diego Bay? Those who love the coastal lifestyle and want exciting experiences on or near the water will enjoy spending time with us here at the Best Western PLUS Island Palms Hotel & Marina. Our bayfront hotel on Shelter Island is the perfect spot to plan all of your SoCal adventures, as it is perfectly situated near all the activities and attractions you are coming to enjoy. Our hotel guests have easy access to San Diego sailing excursions, whale watching tours, and plenty of fishing opportunities. Here are some of the best water-oriented tours and activities in America’s Finest City to explore!

Whale Watching

Did you know that San Diego is one of the best places on the West Coast for whale watching? This is especially true from December to April when the gray whales make their annual migration along the California coast to cooler waters. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in San Diego during the summer months, as blue whales can be seen off the coast from June to September. In fact, there have even been recent sightings of orca, or killer whales, in San Diego’s bay, which is quite a rare treat and extremely exciting to see.

Next Level Sailing, with its convenient check-in location just across the street from the Best Western PLUS Island Palms Hotel & Marina, is the best way to have a great whale watching experience in San Diego. The daily 4-hour trip costs around $80 for adults and $50 for children (depending on the day/season), and typically sails from 11am to 3pm. Plan an exciting whale watching excursion with our neighbors at Next Level Sailing, who launches right from our marina, for a unique experience you won’t soon forget.

(Video: @nxtlevelsailing)

Fishing in San Diego 

If you’re looking to spend an amazing day on the water reeling them in, you are in luck because some of the best Shelter Island fishing spots are just a short walk from the Island Palms Hotel & Marina.

Shelter Island Pier

The Shelter Island Pier is open daily from 6am to 10:30pm, requires no fishing license, and has everything you need to fish the day away. Expect to catch your share of barracuda, halibut, bonito, and bass during your day fishing from the local pier. And when you need supplies for fishing or a cold craft beer for yourself, you won’t want to miss Fathom Bistro, Bait, and Tackle, San Diego’s only tap house on the water!

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

This pet-friendly San Diego park is a great place to spend the day fishing and enjoying the scenery of Southern California. Shelter Island Shoreline Park is open daily from 6am to 10:30pm and offers early risers a beautiful sunrise view. Drop your line from the fishing pier for a day of fishing at this mile-long scenic San Diego park or use the boat launch to fish further out on Mission Bay. In addition to gorgeous views of the Bay and San Diego skyline, the park offers bike paths, concessions, gazebo, playground, sandy beach, fire rings, and more.

People fishing off pier

(Photo: @justa300srt)

San Diego Sailing

There’s nothing like spending a day sailing in the beautiful waters of the Pacific on a Next Level Sailing tour. The experienced crew offers leisure tours, corporate event tours, and even private charters for occasions like weddings. The 139-foot Yacht America, a replica of the yacht that won the historic Royal Yacht Squadron’s 100 Guinea Cup race in 1851, will be the vessel that takes you on an exciting San Diego sailing adventure past Point Loma lighthouse, the Hotel Del Coronado, scenes of sea lions playing on the marker buoys, Coronado Naval Air Station, the Coronado Bridge, and more…all with beautiful views of the San Diego skyline. Next Level Sailing excursions are the perfect way to celebrate engagements and birthdays, hold family and class reunions, host a private dinner, enjoy a group cocktail cruise, have corporate events, and more!
Sailboat on Ocean

Are You Ready for the Ultimate Coastal Adventure in San Diego?

Plan your next adventure in San Diego with unique coastal experiences you won’t soon forget. Book your getaway now at the Best Western PLUS Island Palms Hotel and let the fun on the water begin! Our ideal location near fishing, sailing, and whale watching makes it so easy and convenient to plan all of your favorite activities and enjoy your time on the West Coast.

Aerial view of Shelter Island with hotels, boats in a marina, and San Diego in the distance