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All Aboard: 8 Reasons to Go On a San Diego Boat Tour

If you’re coming to San Diego, there’s a lot to see and do. One thing you must be sure to do is go on a San Diego boat tour, and here are 8 reasons why.

San Diego Boat Tours, San Diego Sailing, San Diego Sailboat Charters & Corporate Sailing Races

If you’re looking for a little fun in the sun, visit San Diego! It’s a beautiful coastal Southern California city with lots of visitor attractions. 2018 saw more than 35 million people visit San Diego

People love the beaches, but if you’re going to San Diego, why not try a San Diego boat tour?

It’s fun to get out in the ocean. It’s an opportunity to see things up close you’ve never seen before. 

On your way to San Diego? Here are 8 reasons why you should book a San Diego boat tour!

1. See Whales and Other Wildlife

If you’re interested in seeing whales, you’ve come to the right place. San Diego is the perfect whale-watching destination. The migration pattern of the Gray Whale includes the coast of North America.

Watch the Gray Whales on their journey from Alaska all the way to Baja California and back, a 12,000-mile trip. Mid-December through April is the best time to see these gentle giants. 

The whales travel alone or in small pods of 2-3 whales. But during peak migration, you can see more.  

If you’re in San Diego from the middle of June to September, look for the Blue Whales. This magnificent whale is an endangered species. You’ll know these whales by the iconic spout that sends water shooting 30 feet into the air. 

The Blue Whale ventures far out to sea, so a boat is usually a must for a glimpse of these creatures. 

Some of the whale-watching tours include tickets to the Maritime Museum. Learn the details about the many U.S. Navy sites you’ll see while cruising out to the ocean. 

And while you’re spotting whales, look for playful dolphins and other marine life too. San Diego is home to lots of cute seals. Get some great photos as the seals lounge on nearby rock outcroppings. 

2. Learn About America’s Cup Firsthand

Are you a sailor at heart? Then you can’t go wrong in San Diego. Take a ride on the famous “Stars and Stripes” sailboat. This is an authentic sailboat used in competition in 1992 in America’s Cup events. 

The sleek racing yacht holds up to 22 people. If your kids are 5 and under, consider a different boat tour since kids under 5 aren’t allowed. This tour is action packed and great fun for older kids and adults.   

The view of the San Diego Bay is beautiful. You’ll learn America’s Cup history while hearing some great sailing stories. You’ll be offered the opportunity to work the winch and raise and lower the sails. And speaking of working the winch…

3. Learn How to Sail

Why not learn how to sail why you’re in San Diego?

After a boat tour on the “Stars and Stripes,” you’ll itch to get in the action. Take sailing lessons from San Diego Bay. Or check out Mission Bay for other sailing options. 

4. Great Team Building Exercise

Are you looking for the perfect team-building exercise? Rent two authentic sailing yachts, divide your group in half and race each other. 

Each team joins 6 seasoned crew members. You’ll learn the history of each boat before sailing. Team members make tactical decisions and get a chance at taking the helm. 

You’ll get three racing sessions in the San Diego Bay over the course of three hours on the water. Enjoy non-alcoholic beverages and snacks while soaking in the sun and fun.

When you’re done, enjoy photos and videos of the event. 

5. Screen Break and Stress Reduction

Leave your phone at home and experience a wonderful screen break.

Adults average over 3 hours per day looking at their phones. It’s time for a break! And that’s a great reason for taking a San Diego boat tour. Forget about your phone. Forget about work. 

Take a break from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and enjoy the moment. Stand in the bow and watch dolphins ride the boat wake. 

You can’t beat a boat tour for plain old-fashioned stress reduction. As you take in the beautiful coast, your stress melts away. Who can be stressed when they’re watching a Blue Whale spout or an adorable seal playing in the water?

6. A Romantic Evening

Are you in San Diego on your honeymoon? That’s all the reason you need for a romantic evening dinner cruise. 

Enjoy beautiful views, a gentle breeze, and a gourmet meal all while cruising the beautiful California coastline. Clink your champagne glasses with a toast to your new life together.

Or maybe it’s your anniversary or another special occasion. Most dinner cruises include live entertainment and an open-bar option. Grab your honey and have a blast!

7. Catch Some Rays

Do you get outside on a daily basis? Most San Diegans do! It’s hard not to when the climate is so temperate and sunny. Studies reveal vitamin-D deficiency is a problem across the globe. 

But if you’re in San Diego on a boat tour, you’ll get plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Unless you’re on a nighttime cruise, any boat tour you choose includes some sunshine. 

8. A Fun Way to Exercise

Not all boat tours include motors. If you’re up for some exercise, try a kayak tour in La Jolla and see the wildlife up close. You’ll paddle along with your guide through an ecological reserve.

You’ll explore sea caves and kelp forests. You’ll also get to see seals and sea lions. San Diego has one of the largest concentrations of Leopard Sharks in the summer. They’re small and harmless, but quite a sight. 

Keep your eye out for dolphins and sea turtles as well. 

Enjoy a San Diego Boat Tour

On your way to San Diego? Book a San Diego boat tour!

There are so many types of boat tours, you’re sure to find one you love. Delight in nature up close as you glimpse whales, sea lions, and other amazing marine life. 

Enjoy a laid-back romantic dinner cruise with live entertainment and skyline views. If exercise is your thing, take a kayak boat tour through the La Jolla Caves.  

Learn how to sail or do a team-building exercise aboard a real America’s Cup racing yacht. There are so many great San Diego boat tours! Book yours now!

I chartered the Stars & Stripes USA-11 for a surprise 70th birthday celebration for my husband. We were joined by 16 friends and a great time was had by all. Lynn was so professional and friendly in addressing all my questions and concerns during the planning process. Once on board, the crew was also very friendly and concerned about making sure that all who wanted to were able to participate in the sail by taking the wheel or grinding the winches. I highly recommend sailing the Stars & Stripes USA-11 for an afternoon of great fun and adventure.

→ Date of experience: January 2019

I’ve been on the Stars and Stripes a few times and it’s always so fun. Bee and Lynn are both very knowledgeable and it’s really fun how they get everyone involved with helping out (only if you want to!). I would definitely recommend this for anyone visiting San Diego, or even if you live here, to see San Diego from a different point of view 🙂

→ Date of experience: January 2019

 Walter N

In the middle of January sailing on the beautiful San Diego bay!! We were aboard the famous America’s cup Stars and Stripes USA 11. The wind was perfect and we were cruising along at about 10 knots. Plenty of sights to see and plenty of activity raising sails, trimming the sails on the grinders and driving as well. A wonderful and very profesional crew and captain. A perfect way to enjoy a stay in San Diego.

→ Date of experience: January 2019


Loads of fun on the 1992 Americas cup boat. Active participation with rigging and sailing this beautiful sail boat. The massive sail is impressive. The crew is great and goes the distance to make sure everyone has a good time.

→ Date of experience: June 2018


I am a long time sailor of small boats so when I get a chance to go out on a classic big boat I jump. This boat was involved in the ’92 America’s cup. It’s a racing machine and yet the ride on the water was smooth as glass.San Diego weather is perfect for sailing most days, 10 to 15knts of wind, sunshine. If you go in the summer, you can bring a wind breaker but you won’t need it. Definitely bring a hat with a chin strap as it’s easy to lose it if you aren’t paying attention.

They “let” you crank the winches, which most people get tired of after one or two times, but if you want you can winch all day long. As there are three stations each with two positions so 6 people could if they wanted to crank away for every tack, although in general 2 is enough people power to adjust the sails. Everyone gets a chance at driving, they watch the time carefully so everyone gets a nice long turn. The skipper is right there alongside you, so no experience driving is necessary.

All in all, one of the best things to do in San Diego. I for sure will go out again!

And yes, get there early for the video and lecture on the history of the America’s cup.

→ Date of experience: September 2018

I had a sail boat many years ago. A San Juan 24’ named Sun Shine Express. How I loved to sail. I had to sell her and many years later I bought a smaller sail boat. Fun but not as exciting. To the point, we were in San Diego this week and I made a reservation via email. Booked it for my husband and myself. This is my just another boat. It competed in the America Cup. It was amazing. The wind, sun and the large scale of mast, winches, sheets, I could go on. Please take the time to look at on line. It is a dream for me hat came true. If you only do it once – take the time and live the experience. They also do private sails.

Date of experience: September 2018

Just stepping on the boat was amazing, being able to raise the mainsail, trim the headsail and drive the yacht was a bucket list leader for me. Awesome crew, great views and pretty good speed for a big boat. Daughter had a great time. Loved watching the Americas Cup with these boats, Stars & Stripes was my favorite and still is. Great job USA-11. Must do when in San Diego!

→Date of experience: July 2018


This is a great way to see San Diego’s Big Bay and have fun doing it. Don’t worry that you are going to get thrashed around and seasick unless it is a super, super, SUPER windy day and there are huge white caps all over the bay. Even then this boat is so well designed and smooth I doubt even then you would get sick. But then that could be fun too 😉 With that being said you do not want to go out on a dead calm day either because you will miss the whole fun of sailing with the sails up.

The regular large boat bay cruises I have been on are fun but I think this one is the BEST. 

They tack back and forth across the bay so you REALLY get to see much more of the bay then if you just past by something once which is what happens on the bay cruises.

In addition you will get a chance to steer the boat and take a turn at the cranks for bringing the sails up and tacking so you get to experience a bit of what is was like to race this boat.

The crew is super nice and the 3 hours seems to go by way too fast.

So if you are from out of town or even a local I highly recommend this trip. 

And as long as you are down on Shelter Island there are several restaurants that have great views after your sail like the Bali Hai or Coastterra or if it is a nice day reserve an outside table at the Kona Kai’s Vessel’s restaurant and get a nice view of your boat and the Kona Kai marina while you dine. And don’t forget to save time to walk beautiful Shelter Island.

Tip- Make sure to get there early to watch the video presentation that takes place 30 minutes BEFORE the sail. Even if you think you know everything about sailing and the America’s Cup it is very interesting and makes the sail that much more fun.

Also the crew is 90% volunteer so if you enjoyed your sail I am sure they would appreciate a tip which you can drop in the jar after the sail which is located in the office

And no need for a cell phone or camera that you could lose overboard because they will take all the pictures and send them to your email address for no extra charge!

→Date of experience: July 2018


Helpful Links for Things to Do and Sailing information in San Diego,CA