Best Places to Launch and Paddle in San Diego - Glorietta Bay Coronado
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.
If you were to pick two places in San Diego that are remarkably iconic of the city, and had to chance to see them both from the water in a single short paddle, wouldn't that sound great? Well with this location you are in luck!
By paddling out of Glorietta Bay you see the Coronado Bridge and The Hotel Del Coronado in all their beauty. Whether during the day or in the evening for a beautiful after-work sunset stroll on the water as the lights illuminate these two backdrops. But aside from these two views, you also can enjoy much more!
Glorieta Bay is on the sourthern portion of Coranado Island in San Diego. While not trusly an island as it connects from Imperial Beach and the Silver Strand from the south, most people access this area via the Coronado Bridge. As you do, you will be looking down really far at gorgeous San Diego Bay (which has other access points such as Liberty Station). Once you end the bridge portion you will most likely be guided on your nav along CA-75 which will take you through downtown and lots of shops, restaurants and businesses. (Keep these in mind for after your paddle as the food always tastes better after water-time right?). This main business route will eventually take you past the Hotel Del Coranado (will be on your right) and head south. Here you will find on your left Glorietta Bay. After driving a half mile or so turn left at the light onto Avenue de Las Arenas and an immediate right onto the frontage road Strand Way. Head south until you see grass on the left and park! Don't worry, from here on the directions are easy!
The park here has tons of shady areas to stage and rig. And then you have a short walk east to the beach and Glorietta Bay. There are super clean bathrooms here. And while we always lock our doors and stow a hideaway key (FCS Keylock) Coronado is has practically zero crime so don't worry much about that.
The beach here is a gradual incline so launches are a piece of cake and since it is in the bay, no waves to worry about. That said in the afternoons wind can sometimes pickup so keep an eye out for that. Once you launch you have some great options. I suggest you head left and perimeter the full Glorietta Bay. You will pass a public boat dock, the community center, playhouse and city hall where boat docks will appear. Enjoy the witty boat names and come up on the red-roofed the famous Boathouse, now home to the Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill. This building is on the water at the end of the bay and behind it you will see the Hotel Del Coronado with similar Victorian roofs and turrets. Take it in as the building is pretty spectacular. Then head right and continue the perimeter of the bay. As you wrap around you will have a golf course appear on the shorlines to your left. AT low tide there will be a few beachable sand berms. Feel free to stretch the legs for a sec or post up with a picnic. That said we recommend you don't wander onto the golf course or beyond the high tide line as it becomes home to flying golf balls.
Here you can call it a short day as you have paddled a little more than a mile and back to the beach will put you at just shy of 1.5 miles. Great for kids and first timers. But if you are looking for more you are in luck. Continue along the golf course and start heading north again towards the Coronado Bridge. It won't be hard to spot. Its huge blue towers build at an impressive rate and are worth the trip to go under. Should you choose to go under the bridge you are in luck for another great beaching spot. Tidelands Park. About 2 miles now based on the meandering path we have taken. This beach and grass area is a hub for outdoor recreation. A skatepark, bike paths, soccer fields and sand make for another cool spot to post up at for awhile. For those courageous paddlers we have two more options for you. Both however expose you to faster boat waves and much more challenging water so proceed with caution.
Option A) Keep following the land on your left from Tidelands to the Coronado Ferry Landing. There are two beach pullouts before there that are publicly accessible. And well as the beach at the Ferry Dock itself. There are a bunch of restaurants and shops here. A real neat destination. About 2.7 miles using our course.
Option B) The Midway. Again this part of the water can be gnarly with wind and boats and wakes. But if you are willing to take the challenge (wear bright high-visibility clothes) you will paddle over to a retired US Navy Aircraft Carrier the USS Midway that has been converted to a floating museum. And you can paddle underneath this behemoth and really get a grasp of how big it is. Remarkable really. To get it do a channel crossing and head towards downtown. This area across is called the Embarcadero. Plese note the coastlnie is all rip-rap rock. Now beachable areas at all. So do not expect a place to post up. Make your way north now with land on your right. And head a little over a mile and you will see the USS Midway on your right after the coastline and docs veer right a little bit. Take in the awesome ship! When you are done, wave goodbye to the tourists above and make the journey back retracing your steps and then towards the Coronado Bridge and Glorietta Bay across the San Diego Bay proper. Heading back in the most direct way will net you about 7-7.5 miles total. So plan accordingly for time, food and water. And note the only beachable spots were the ones listed above.
When you get back to the beach, there are fresh water showers, the previously mentioned bathrooms, and nice grass to gather your gear. The parking is right by the park so easy peasy there as well. You have now checked out some of the coolest sites San Diego is known for from the water. And had various levels of distance and water challenges based on your comfort.
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.