The staff members at Another Side Of San Diego Tours take an unconventional approach to sightseeing. The goal is to fashion an experience that is as much about the sights as it is about the tour itself. Sightseers take to the air during helicopter tours, hot air balloon tours, and biking tours with optional ETs. The company’s segway tours wheel saunterers through Mission Bay or the Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero at sunset, when San Diego twinkles and teenage werewolves cycle through awkward states of half-transformation. In addition to information and adventure, the company frequently gives tour takers round-trip transportation, waives entrance fees, and serves bites to eat.
Ordinarily it's bad news if your plane is in the water, but not so at San Diego Seaplanes, where the flying machines are made for aquatic takeoffs and landings. On any given day, the small planes whisk passengers in a romantic journey from the water's surface up into the air above San Diego, where they can survey the skyline, see California grey whales below, swoop over Coronado Island, and take in the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.
Despite its name, San Diego Seaplanes doesn't only serve America's Finest City. The pilots also transport passengers around the Hawaiian Islands, Baja California, and areas of the Caribbean known for their dolphins that race the planes.
Though she's only a few decades old, the Privateer has already retired to a warmer climate. In May 2011?after 28 years of ferrying passengers around on whale-watching trips in brisk Massachusetts waters?she made her way down the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, and to the warm San Diego coast. She hasn't stopped working, however. The Privateer still carries up to 128 passengers across ocean waves during sunset cruises. With her roomy outdoor decks, she makes it easy for people to have unobstructed views of the pink-and-gold horizon kissing the Pacific's azure waters.
As twilight colors San Diego's skyline and the waters surrounding it, the 85-foot New Seaforth is just setting out onto the ocean. Onboard, passengers armed with rods and reels watch the coast shrink as they make their way to Point Loma and the La Jolla kelp beds in search of yellowtail, barracuda, and other fish who have late curfews. Joining them the whole way is Seaforth Sportfishing's crew, who help beginners set up their equipment and give more experienced anglers tips and pointers. And for those who've caught their limit or are waiting for a bite, the galley stands ready, serving up cheeseburgers and sodas or beers for them to sip while they watch the last color fade from the sky and the stars come out. On the way back to shore, during the summer months, passengers might catch Sea World's fireworks show to cap off their evening with a bang.
These twilight trips are indicative of the experience every Seaforth Sportfishing excursion offers. Captains aboard the company's 17 vessels?which range from 65 to 85 feet?also venture out on half-day trips for yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, and bass, or full-day trips into Mexican waters, where tuna and dorado flash beneath the surface.
Captain Ernie Prieto III is a third-generation fisherman with decades of experience casting in the rivers and oceans of Southern California and Mexico. He welcomes up to 40 passengers to cruise the coastal waters of San Diego and the scenic Coronado Islands aboard the Chubasco II, a 60'x20' ship with side-scanning sonar, a low deck, and all the gear you need to land a fish or escape from a really angry fish. The spacious Chubasco can hold up to 49 passengers and reaches comfortable cruising speeds, but it's Captain Ernie's know-how that makes for successful sport-fishing expeditions. He and his crew help beginners and experts catch Yellowtail, Barracuda, White Sea Bass, and Halibut. Each passengers is given a numbered burlap sack for their catches. At the end of the trip, passengers can opt to take their catches home to cook and eat or take photos with. The Chubasco's galley features cold beer, beverages, and snacks available for purchase.
Pacific Nature Tours' experienced captains and their crews navigate a seaworthy 70-foot, US Coast Guard?inspected vessel?the Eclipse?through Mission Bay waters in search of friendly marine life and ambivalent birds. As the Eclipse safely sails around island coasts, knowledgeable naturalists narrate the expeditions, which include two whale-watching excursions. Aquatic creatures ranging from dolphins and sea lions to pool noodles can be spotted in their natural habitats from the ship's spacious deck or from within the interior viewing area, which is equipped with satellite TV. As the Eclipse navigates Mission Bay, passengers can feast on lunch cooked fresh on board, which is served with 4.5 hour tours. Meals are also included in longer trips. All tours operate out of Seaforth Sportfishing.