Top 3 Coronado Island Activities Locals Love

Coronado Island is a top destination for tourists and San Diego locals alike. The island is such a special place that even San Diego locals feel like they’re on vacation when visiting. If you plan to spend some time in Coronado, join me as I suggest my top 3 Coronado island activities locals love. Whether you are a local or not, I think you will find these things to do on Coronado Island winning suggestions!

top 3 coronado island activities

1 – Favorite Coronado Island Tours

Aside from the Coronado bridge, the most iconic sight on the island is the Hotel Del Coronado. Also known as “The Hotel Del,” it is arguably the most famous San Diego hotel. In case you want a live look at what to expect, check out the official Hotel Del Coronado Beach Cam.

Since 1888, the Hotel Del has been host to celebrities, politicians, athletes and anyone with the means to book a stay there. This gorgeous hotel has been the backdrop of countless photos, wedding ceremonies, special events, and has been featured in movies.

hotel del coronado tours

Even if you are not staying at the Hotel Del, the grounds here are a treat to take in. As are some of the hotel’s attractions and dining. A favorite Coronado island tour is touring the Hotel Del. The hotel offers several tour options via its Ice House Museum and Tours.

These favorite Coronado island tours include the Legendary Tour, Haunted Happenings Tour, Self-Guided Audio Tours, and Private Group Tours. Admission to the Ice House Museum is complimentary, and the various tours range from around $25 to $40 per person.

Even if an official tour isn’t in your plans, taking in The Hotel Del on foot is a delightful way to spend some of your time on the island. I can’t think of many family visits I have made to Coronado that did not include a stop at the Hotel Del. There are shops, multiple dining options, and of course, Coronado beach. Visiting Coronado beach also happens to be number two in my top 3 Coronado island activities locals love.

2 – Visiting Coronado Beach

Those contemplating things to do in Coronado inevitably find the lure of Coronado beach irresistible. It’s a beach that is considered by locals to be one of the best beaches in San Diego. Coronado beach also frequently pops up in lists of the best beaches in California, in the United States. . . and in the world.

coronado beach chairs

Coronado beach is unique in a multitude of ways. Many beaches offer a relatively narrow strip of sand. Coronado beach is not only almost two miles long, it is also unusually wide. This immense expanse of sand makes the beach feel less crowded, despite attracting many people. The sheer open space is part of the appeal of this amazing beach.

Coronado dog beach can be found at the west end of the beach. This side is also closest to the Naval air station – where you are likely to glimpse various aircraft taking off and landing. At the opposite end of the beach, you’ll run into an area where the Navy Seals train. Chances are you will enjoy your time at the beach far more than the Seal candidates!

Coronado beach is great for walking, lounging in the sand, playing beach volleyball, swimming, and taking in San Diego’s beautiful scenery and oceans breezes. Waves are typically on the smaller side, and although there are designated surfing areas, it is not usually a major surfing destination.

Best Times to Visit Coronado Beaches

The answer to this depends on what you are visiting for. If you’re looking for solitude and minimal crowds, the best times to visit Coronado beaches would be “off-season”, or during the winter months. If you’re seeking warm weather and you plan to go into the water, the summer months are best. Even in the summer, Coronado water temperatures are relatively chilly. The highest San Diego water temperatures are usually mid to late summer, and they tend to max out in the low 70’s but are often in the 60’s or cooler.

3 – The Coronado Ferry Landing

Whether you are already staying on the island, or you are planning a visit, taking the Coronado ferry is a delightful activity to enjoy. As an added bonus, the Coronado Ferry landing is also surrounded by restaurants, shops, and scenic trails for a stroll, bike, or Segway ride. You can find out more about Coronado restaurants and attractions via my Coronado Neighborhood guide.

The ferry service is run by Flagship Cruises and Events. The Coronado ferry runs daily with two different routes, each with Coronado at one end of the trip. The two locations in downtown San Diego are from the Broadway Pier and the convention center. Depending on the route and day of the week, there are very regular departures running from morning until after 10 pm on Friday and Saturday.

coronado ferry landing

Why Take the Coronado Ferry?

If you are already staying on the island, getting there isn’t really the point of the Coronado Ferry. However, hopping on the ferry from Coronado to downtown can provide a drive, traffic, and parking-free way to visit the Gaslamp district. On both the trip to downtown and on your way back, you’ll be able to take in stunning views of downtown San Diego and Coronado.

If you plan to visit Coronado and are already downtown, the Coronado ferry is the perfect option. Even if you’re not already downtown, many people choose to park downtown and then take the Ferry to Coronado.

Although space is limited, they will allow bicycles on the Coronado ferry at no extra charge. I have done this several times from downtown and it’s a great way to get to the ferry and to tour Coronado once you’re there. Although not impractical to walk, there is a pretty good distance between the ferry and the main “downtown” Coronado area closer to the Hotel Del.

Ticket prices are very reasonable as well. More details and travel information on the Coronado Ferry can be found on their website.

Directions to Coronado Island

If you plan to visit Coronado island from San Diego, there are really only five ways to go:
1) Drive across the Coronado bridge.
2) Drive up the Silver Strand via Imperial Beach.
3) Take the Coronado Ferry (as detailed above).
4) Land via Navy aircraft.
5) Sail in on a Navy ship.

Since options four and five are discouraged for civilians, I will say options one and three are my favorites. Driving across the Coronado bridge is very scenic (keep your eyes on the road if you’re the driver)! Option 2 will take you up a narrow sliver of land called the Silver Strand. This option is ideal if you are traveling from the south. Option 3 is detailed in the section on the Coronado ferry landing above.

Coronado Real Estate

When I am not writing about the many wonders of San Diego or topics related to real estate, I am busy helping clients buy and sell homes throughout San Diego. If you are considering investing in Coronado Real Estate, you can find Coronado market statistics updated daily here. If you are considering buying a home in Coronado, please check out these featured Coronado homes for sale now.

marc lyman san diego realtor

About Marc Lyman

Marc Lyman grew up in Silicon Valley where he was exposed to the nuances of the real estate business at a young age. He graduated from UC San Diego in 1995 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. His studies were followed by the launch of multiple businesses, including a popular online home publication. The latter has made Marc a sought-after media personality and home expert.