One of the world's finest natural harbors plays host above and below the surface
Homeport to America's Finest City
One of the most beautiful and exemplary natural harbors in the world, San Diego Bay is steeped in rich maritime heritage and continues to serve today as a bustling port of call. Home to the Navy's Pacific fleet, a variety of sport fishing craft, thousands of pleasure boats, and an increasing number of commercial and cruise ships, San Diego Bay is a top destination for coastal and foreign trade. The waterfront is an eclectic mix of industries, with aerospace and shipbuilding operations sharing the coastline with the architecturally stimulating San Diego Convention Center, shopping areas, fine restaurants, and hotels — making the harbor a year-round playground for boating enthusiasts and landlubbers alike.
A Military Center
San Diego Bay's value as a military port was first realized in 1908, when the United States Navy's battleship fleet sailed into the harbor on a world tour. Shortly thereafter, the War Department made plans to dredge the bay, making way for larger ships. The military continued to expand its presence during the 1920s — establishing a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, a Naval Training Station, and a U.S. Navy Hospital—and in 1923 San Diego became the headquarters for the Eleventh Naval District and the Pacific fleet. Now home to the largest military complex in the world, San Diego's naval presence is an integral part of the city's history as well as its present-day culture.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
Portuguese Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo won fame as one of the first explorers to arrive in San Diego Bay, claiming the territory for Spain in 1542. Naming his discovery San Miguel, Cabrillo sailed the San Salvador northward, only to perish months later in the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara.
The Park-to-Bay Link project connects two of San Diego's most visited destinations - San Diego Bay and Balboa Park - with a pedestrian-friendly passage. Designed to improve usage of light rail transit, buses, and the Coaster for cross-country commutes, the thoroughfare combines housing, shopping, offices, and other attractions. The concept dates back to 1908 when landscape architect John Nolan proposed a grand "paseo" or "boulevard" as part of his master plan for the city.
Star of India
Built in 1863, the Star of India sat dormant for more than 50 years before the people of San Diego undertook her restoration in 1976. Today, this majestic ship makes her home on the bay, and holds the distinction of being the oldest active sailing ship in the world.
From her commission in 1945, more than 200,000 American veterans served aboard the USS Midway. Now retired, the aircraft carrier's latest mission is a far cry from its days of combat: serving as the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum. Multidimensional, interactive educational exhibits and an entertainment complex are all part of the master plan for this floating museum — one of only a few of its kind on the West Coast.
Pleasure and Transportation
San Diego Bay is undoubtedly one of the city's most accessible and enjoyable attractions. A wide variety of boating experiences await the seaworthy, from personal pleasure craft and luxury yachting adventures to convenient, relaxing water taxis and ferries to and from Coronado Island.
Port of Call
The B Street Cruise Ship Terminal plays host to an array of cruise ships year-round, serving as a debarkation point for enjoying downtown San Diego's many attractions.
The Gray Whale migration past San Diego Bay offers a unique opportunity to observe one of nature's largest mammals. Thousands of Gray Whales make the pilgrimage, heading south each winter to the mating and calving lagoons of Mexico, and returning north in the spring to Alaska's feeding waters. Once in jeopardy, it is the only whale to be removed from the Endangered Species List.
Making Aviation History
San Diego has several aviation history milestones to its credit. In 1911, aviator Glenn Curtiss landed his floating biplane alongside the USS Pennsylvania in San Diego Bay. After convincing the U.S. Navy to invest $25,000 in the development of naval aviation, he opened the first military aviation school in the nation at North Island.
Shortly thereafter, in 1923, pioneer aviator, T. Claude Ryan, started Ryan Airlines, introducing the first commuter flights from San Diego to Los Angeles. Ryan also established the defense manufacturing industry in San Diego with his Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical. One of the company's fist customers was Charles A. Lindbergh, who hired the company to build The Spirit of St. Louis — leaving for his history-making flight just two months later.
In 1935, Reuben H. Fleet brought his Consolidated Aircraft factory to San Diego from Buffalo, New York. This enterprise merged with other companies to form Convair, and eventually became known as General Dynamics — which reigned for many years as one of the world's largest defense contractors. San Diego's popular Space Theatre was named to honor Fleet's role in the community's aviation history.
A Thriving Tuna Fishing Industry
San Diego Bay was home to the world's largest and most successful tuna fishing fleet from the early thirties up until 1980. During that time, the tuna business was a powerful force in the city's economy, outranked only by the Navy and aircraft industries.
The Brown Pelican is a common sight around San Diego Bay and Southern California. Though the brown pelican once bred in enormous colonies, its population declined drastically after World War II as a result of DDT and related pesticides. Today it remains on the Endangered Species List in California.
Pacific Green Sea Turtles
With a life span of longer than half a century, this threatened species relies on protected bays and lagoon habitats, and is occasionally spotted in San Diego Bay.
Harbor Seals can be seen swimming around the San Diego Bay. Since Harbor Seals do not migrate, they spend their entire lives along the same stretch of coastline. They can be observed along local beaches, rocky points, and man-made buoys.
Approximately 35 species of seahorses are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters, ranging in size from 2 t0 14 inches. This delicate creature's mating ritual is unique — the female deposits eggs into the male's abdomen pouch, allowing him to fertilize the eggs and later give birth. The Pacific Seahorse, native to San Diego Bay, is the only seahorse found along the Pacific coast between California and Peru.