A pleasant small harbor located along a stretch of coast with few other options, Oceanside provides a convenient hop location for southbound and northbound boats, especially those headed north from San Diego to Catalina. No anchoring here, but easy-access guest slips with shore facilities, and walking distance to downtown shops and restaurants, make it a pleasure.
Wide open along the beach in either direction, but keep an eye out for seasonal kelp beds. Entering the breakwaters, there is an obvious split for traffic going to the north side (military harbor) and the south side (city harbor). Enter the city harbor and look for the transient docks under the huge letters spelling OCEANSIDE on the hill above.
The large outer breakwater curves from north to south, creating a protected south entrance, although this is fairly close to the beach and subject to large swell (particularly from the south or southwest). If a large swell is running, make sure to contact Oceanside Harbor Patrol before final approach. USCG also broadcasts regular alerts when the swell is making the entrance potentially dangerous.
Once inside the protection of the breakwater, there is little room to maneuver and take down sails before turning hard to starboard and following the marked channel into the main basin. The north basin is for military vessels only. When in mid-channel, the Oceanside sign will be on the bluff directly above the guest slips and Harbor Patrol office.
There is no anchoring in Oceanside harbor, but guest slips are readily available at $1.20/foot per night (2016). Approach the guest slips by turning slightly to port upon exiting the channel into the main harbor. The last two slips before the impound docks are open for boats checking in. If you come in after hours, take any open slip. Good for boats to 40 feet or so. Longer and you may need to go stern first in order to get off the boat. Harbor Master’s office is a short walk across the street. If you’re staying more than a day or so, they may ask you to move to a slip in another area of the marina.
There are a number of restaurants and shops in the marina itself, in particular at the touristy south end. You can also cross the sand/bridge there and walk the rest of the way into downtown near the pier, and get a taste of Oceanside proper. You won’t be disappointed.
Excellent access to surf, or if that’s not your thing, stretch your legs and take a walk into town. You’ll see the full length of the harbor, some beach, and then the town itself. Once known as a rough military town with some rowdy bars and seedy sections, recent gentrification means more than its fair share of brew pubs, quaint shops and nice restaurants. Oceanside is welcoming to just about anyone. Check it out.