Best Places to Launch and Paddle in San Diego - Bahia Point
Best Places to Launch and Paddle in San Diego (SUP, Kayak, Canoe, Prone Paddleboard)
If you paddle SUP, kayak, canoe or any personal watercraft in San Diego, you are probably aware that a convenient spot to park your car, get your board prepped, and safely launch is as important as what you are paddling. So we have created a series of paddle articles that showcases some of our favorite launch spots. Please enjoy and let us know if you have any additional suggestions to add to this ongoing series.
Bahia Point on Mission Bay (AKA Gleason Road).
This is perhaps one of our favorite launch spots for a variety of reasons. The parking is incredibly close to the water, separated only be 15 feet of grass and perhaps another 20 feet of sand. And the water to launch in is on beautiful Mission Bay. San Diego's crown paddling jewel where you can see Garibaldi, lush coastlines, and dozens of coves and channels to explore for miles and miles. In fact, if you were to circumnavigate the entire bay, you would come up on almost 18 miles. But today we will share some of our favorite spots to check out from Bahia Point.
One of the best reasons this launch spot is great is that it starts in a protected 5mph zone of the bay. So you can avoid speeding boats and wakes if you are still getting your balance and comfort level dialed-in. And it is also great for kids. The east facing portion of the peninsula is typically very protected from the wind too, so you can enjoy some calm water and carry from car to water before venturing into other more exposed portions of the bay should you wish*. On any given weekend you can find dozens of other friendly paddlers enjoying the area, and you will probably makes some friends before the days ends, or at least get compliments and questions on the particular craft you are on. This area is also known to get the good tidal flow, which means water quality is good due having ocean water cycled in and out twice a day. Hence, the safest of areas to paddle in.
Some recommended areas to check out:
Seals: Launch along the east end of the Peninsula, and head south under the West Mission Bay Bridge and look for the opening to your left to Quivira Basin. The docks and floating buoys in this area often have seals posted up on anything that floats and are very photogenic. However please keep your distance, both for their sake, and yours as they might spook and cause you to fall in with a quick reaction.
Garibaldi: The rocks to the south along Ventura Point frequently attract Garibaldi fish. They can also be found under the West Mission Bay Drive bridge to the south along the rocks and the entry way to Ocean Entrance channel of the bay. It is roughly 1.0 miles to the base of the channel. Please be aware however that boating traffic and fishing lines are something to contend with as you approach the ocean channel entrance.
Sea World: Head south and east from Bahia Point towards the South Ingram Bridge and go under it. Along your right you will see Hubbs Research institute with majestic Torrey Pine trees that are know to be the home of huge cranes and great blue heron nests. To the left is the main part of the Bay and Fiesta Island. Be careful there as it is high-speed boating area and they rarely see us paddlers. Continue east towards the giant Sea World Tower and you will maybe find yourself in the photos of people enjoying multiple shows as you paddle by. Just be sure not to head in too close as the boat marina and show waters are private property.
Fireworks: During the nights of summer, Sea World often will have a firework display. They are shot off in the South Shores Channel just north of the park and the area is off-limits for safety reasons during the shows. However, you can be pretty much anywhere on the water during the show and have the best seats in the house! Plus the reflection off the water doubles the spectacle. If during the day you venture all the way to the east end of this cove beware of high-speed personal water craft (aka Jet-skis).
Important notes: Always be careful when launching or returning to Bahia Point not to venture into the swimming area at the south end in Ventura Cove.
There are restroom and shower facilities on the point, but they are not always super clean, so wear footwear. :)
As always, wearing a leash and PFD when launching at Bahia on Mission Bay is highly recommended and when you paddle. While the lifeguards that sometimes cruise by are not overly strict, they are in their jurisdiction to enforce the rules for PFDs which are required for stand-up paddleboards, and encouraged for prone, kayaks and canoes. Certainly if children under 18 are in your party. In regards to leashes, they are not required by law and unlikely to be enforced, but we here feel they are just as important as a PFD and hope you launch with one.
* It is always advised to paddle into the wind first on your course, so that sould you fatigue or go further than expected, you will have a tail wind to help you back.
This article was written by Clarke G., owner of CaliPaddler.com. A lifestyle brand for paddlers! For over 7 years Cali Paddler and West Coast Paddle Sports have teamed up to support the paddle community and share our stoke.