This popular weekend hideaway is a large open fairway among the marinas of Shelter Island. Shore access is tricky, so it’s most commonly used as a weekend raft-up location. Beware of crazy shenanigans on holidays, and weekday dinghy race training. But a lovely stop under the gaze of hillside Point Loma homes.
Channel is well marked coming around the SW tip of Shelter Island. Favor the middle/right on the way in, both for traffic, and the shoal area around the beach at the end of McCall street. After you pass Southwestern Yacht club on the left, La Playa cove opens up as a large rectangular area marked on three corners by yellow buoys.
This is a monitored 72 hour anchorage, technically requiring a permit (ONLINE HERE) from the city. Anchoring is solid in thick sand/mud, in 8-15 feet. You can tuck up in the W corner, behind Southwestern Yacht Club to get some space to yourself on busier days. Otherwise make sure to keep within the yellow buoys marking the anchorage area, and out of the main channel running parallel to Shelter Island, and the areas around the outside that give access to boats getting in and out of the various marina fairways.
Shore access is difficult in this spot. Best if you know someone at a neighboring marina, or enjoy reciprocal privileges at one of the yacht clubs. If not, make for the police dock near the tip of Shelter Island, or try your luck on the small steep beach that marks the end of Bessemer Street at the water’s edge on the NW shore. If you can get ashore here, it provides easy access to Point Loma/Shelter Island’s many restaurants, pubs, marine stores and services.
Fathom Bait and Bistro is a TINY bait shack cum craft brew pub located on the fishing pier across Shelter Island from La Playa. Easiest to get there via the police dock, or dinghy (or paddle) around to their floating pier. They have a world-class beer list and tasty, if limited menu. Views of downtown are stellar.