A San Diego Boat Tour is a Perfect Way to Enjoy the Harbor

San Diego Harbor

The weather in San Diego is great all year round and I’d say that it has one of the prettiest harbors in all of America so while you’re visiting and, especially if it’s for the first time, you may like a San Diego boat tour.

What is a San Diego Boat Tour Like?

Manchester Grand Hyatt seen from the boat tour
The Manchester Grand Hyatt sits on the San Diego Bay

Hornblower Cruises offers six daily cruises that are one hour in length and occur every hour and fifteen minutes between 10:00am-5:15pm. Each cruise is narrated by a crew member as you tour the harbor. The boat is two stories and has both indoor and outdoor seating and has a small snack bar serving cold and hot items and beverages including beer & wine.

Before you board, you’ll have a souvenir picture taken with your party that will be available for purchase after the tour. The boat itself is kind of like a ferry so while you tour the harbor you don’t feel an exorbitant amount of motion if you are prone to seasickness.

There are two boat tours you can choose from—North or South. I’ve done both of these and they are relatively different. The southern route takes a course that focuses on Mission Bay, Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument and Coronado island before swinging back around to see the ships of the Maritime Museum and the USS Midway. The northern route is much more military/Navy focused in my experience as you swing past a handful of Navy ships in the harbor and receive information about each of those in addition to the USS Midway, Coronado island and general San Diego history (SD history is given on the southern route as well). A main draw to either of these is the opportunity to spot sea lions. Hornblower touts the northern tour as the most popular for sea lion sightings but I’ve seen them plenty of times on the southern tour as well (though note that it’s never a guarantee you’ll see them at all).

A boat tour is a lovely way to introduce yourself to San Diego and learn a lot about the city’s history while catching some sunshine and hopefully spotting a smelly, barking sea lion in the water.

What others are saying about Hornblower Cruises:

Trip Advisor

Other San Diego harbor cruises:

Flagship Cruises


If you’re headed to San Diego make sure you also check out Old Town San Diego! Love tours? Check out our posts on touring the southwest in a hot air balloon and touring the Grand Canyon in a helicopter.


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