The perfect weekend getaway from San Diego Bay waits just a few hours north, in Mission Bay’s Mariner’s Cove. Good holding, beach and surf access, room for water play and fun ashore make this a perfect spot to raft up with friends and while away the hours.
Two large breakwaters extend into the pacific, marking the channel into Mission Bay. There are kelp fields to the south to keep an eye out for, but otherwise clear. Proceed down the channel and look for the entrance to Mariner’s Cove on the left (north). Expect lots of traffic (not always well-behaved).
All moorings are private. You can anchor just inside the entrance, toward the beach on the SW corner, or head north to the larger inner cove, past all the moored boats. Note the tides here, and the shallow sandy bottom make it pretty easy to misjudge how close you are to shore, and end up high and dry when the tide drops.
You can dinghy, or swim, or paddle ashore just about anywhere. Do not lock up your dinghy to the anchored steel bars in the sand, as this is a paid service. From here you can walk the street to a few restaurants, the Belmont Park roller coaster and other rides, WaveHouse surf center, rent a bike, surfboard, etc.
Even if you choose not to participate, check out the action at WaveHouse, a land-based surfing experience, where huge volumes of water are piped over a sculpted form to create a standing wave. Surfers of all abilities glide, spin and eventually crash, much to the delight of the bar patrons nearby.