Consider staying across the bay from downtown San Diego, on Shelter Island at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites (2303 Shelter Island Dr., 800/542-7400, www.halfmooninn.com, $175–575, parking $10). This resort property looks out over the bay towards the city skyline. It has its own private marina and a lush tropical garden (heavy on the palm trees, of course).
Your large, homey-styled room might look out into the greenery or over the great blue bay. If you’re in the mood for luxury, add an “enhancement,” such as champagne and strawberries or an in-room massage, to your room reservation. If you’re feeling lazy, spend a day by the pool, enjoying fruity rum drinks from the poolside bar.
On the other hand, energetic travelers can take a boat out onto the water, head into town to check out the attractions, or take a bike ride around Shelter Island.
Come evening, you can dine at the on-site gourmet restaurant, then dance the night away to live music at the hotel’s own club. In the summertime, get tickets to one of the famed outdoor concerts held on the resort property.
Another Shelter Island charmer, The Bay Club Hotel and Marina (2131 Shelter Island Dr., 619/224-8888 or 800/672-0800, www.bayclubhotel.com, $139–189) provides bay and harbor views, comfortable rooms, and charming amenities. Guest rooms have tasteful decorative touches in earth tones and soft pink florals—perfect for a restful vacation.
Outside your room, you’ll find a funky geometric swimming pool with matching spa, a fitness center, and a brown-and-white bar and grill with a 1950s-style tropical resort feel. Be sure to stop at the desk before heading out into town to grab discount passes to various attractions.
Bringing your boat to San Diego? Call the Bay Club to make arrangements to rent a slip in the private marina, which is convenient to the bay, the open ocean, and an on-water fuel station.
The exterior of the Kona Kai Resort (1551 Shelter Island Dr., 619/221-8000 or 800/566-2524, www.resortkonakai.com, $189) evokes the legendary Hotel del Coronado. But on the property, you’ll find a sense of peace and tranquility that feels more like a Hawaiian resort out away from the city. With a fitness center, a pool, and a full-service spa, you won’t lack for pampering and amenities as you bask in the Shelter Island sunshine. Inside, your room will fulfill all your oceanside vacation ideals with soft neutral tones on the walls, and cute colorful and green accents creating a tropical paradise.
If you plan to take a seagoing adventure, you can moor your personal or rental boat at the private marina (slips up to 200 feet), or you can head over to SeaWorld or downtown for land-lubbing activities. Even if you get seasick, it might be worth a stroll down to the marina to check out the mega-yacht docking area and get a glimpse at how the other 1 percent live.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition