SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA is a destination, a lifestyle and a state of mind. SoCal weather is pretty amiable, which affords a year-round boating season with enjoyable coastal cruising.
The best way to explore the City of Angels is to start at the water and head for the hills. Santa Monica, L.A.’s beach community, jumpstarts the Los Angeles experience. Spend the morning at the beach swimming in the Pacific Ocean, then ride the Ferris wheel on the iconic Santa Monica Pier.
Next stop is Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills for retail therapy at this bustling international fashion center. Continue east to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where more than 2,600 stars are embedded in the sidewalk in tribute to actors, musicians, producers and directors.
Spend the evening at Griffith Observatory atop the southern slope of Mount Hollywood. This art deco astronomical observatory has been featured in movies from Rebel Without a Cause to La La Land. Look through the telescope and join the star party that lasts until 10:00 p.m.
Day 1: Newport Beach
Marina del Rey to Newport Beach 47 NM
Marina del Rey, adjacent to Venice Beach,is the largest man-made yacht harbor in North America. It’s easy to spend the weekend there at the slip sipping cocktails. Instead, start the engines, cast off the dock lines and cruise south.
In 1902, developers recognized the recreational and resort potential of Newport Bay. They built the Victorian-style Balboa Pavilion that was a combination of boathouse, bathhouse and entertainment center. Today, this restored National Historic Place serves as the home for special events, fine dining, sport fishing and the ferry terminus to Catalina Island.
Balboa Pier was erected at the same time as the pavilion and is now a popular spot to fish for mackerel and flounder. Newport Beach Pier, also on the Balboa Peninsula, stretches a third of a mile out into the Pacific. The Ocean Boardwalk, a paved trail ideal for cycling and skating, connects both piers.
Seafood restaurants are the mainstay of Newport Beach. The Bluewater Grill, Rusty Pelican and Newport Landing Restaurant are the top three choices. Visiting boaters can tie up for the night at Bayshore Marina and the Balboa Yacht Basin, both easily accessible from the
entrance channel to Newport Bay.
Day 2: San Diego
Newport Beach to San Diego 69 NM
San Diego Bay offers many options for dock space to explore its namesake city. The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is within walking distance of the best of downtown. Aficionados of the landmark Victorian beach resort, Hotel del Coronado, enjoy a slip at Glorietta Bay Marina adjacent to the “Del” on Coronado Island. Shelter Cove Marina delivers stunning views of San Diego Bay and the distant mountains. Located on Shelter Island, it’s located far from the crowds of tourists. The heartbeat of every city beats in its downtown, and San Diego is no exception. In the historic Gaslamp Quarter, eclectic galleries, trendy nightclubs, craft beer haunts and fine-dining restaurants line the streets.
Just west of downtown on the bay is the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The museum boasts one of the finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship Star of India. Just minutes from downtown, Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego that includes museums, tranquil gardens and the San Diego Zoo, voted the No. 1 zoo in the world on Trip Advisor.
Before departing San Diego, try the legendary Sunday brunch at the Hotel del Coronado, which is served in the Del’s Crown Room beneath vaulted brightwork ceilings and vintage chandeliers.
Day 3: Ensenada
San Diego to Ensenada 60 NM
Clearing in to Mexican customs and immigration requires planning. Upon arrival in Ensenada, every boat needs:
• a valid passport for each crew member
• a Mexican FMM visitor card for each crew member
• vessel documentation for proof of ownership
• a Mexican temporary import permit (TIP) and decal
• easy access for inspection of the boat’s hull identification number (HIN)
• proof of boat insurance from a Mexican insurance provider.
The port city of Ensenada on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula was developed into a tourism center for Americans during the Prohibition era. In that spirit, Ensenada claims to be the birthplace of the margarita as crafted at the old Hotel del Riviera del Pacifico. Now a popular cruise ship port, this city revolves around the harbor and the waterfront promenade.
Ensenada Cruiseport Village offers slips for visiting vessels in the bustling main harbor. Or you can select the Hotel Coral Y Marina with dockage in a resort atmosphere. For lunch, La GuerrerenseRestaurant near the port is renowned for cooking “the best street food ever.” A short drive south from Ensenada is La Bufadora, one of the largest blowholes in North America with a spout of seawater shooting up 100 feet. Northeast of the harbor awaits Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s wine country and valley for growing olives. As such, it is the center of Baja Med cuisine, a fusion of Mexican, Asian and Mediterranean ingredients and flavors. Wine tasting is available year-round.