No matter where you decide to sail on Mission Bay , Pichardo suggests that you take to the water between 10 a . m . and 5 p . m ., when the local wind is usually at its strongest .
Action Sport also features a large inventory of stand-up paddleboards and kayaks , which can be set up as tandem or single . “ Paddleboards and kayaks give you access to parts of Mission Bay you could not get to by boat — like the bird sanctuary by Crown Point ,” Pichardo says . Officially known as the Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Preserve , the sanctuary provides a home and habitat for two endangered bird species , Belding ’ s Savannah sparrow and the light-footed clapper rail , both of which are only found in the salt marshes of Southern California .
Another great place for wildlife-oriented paddling is the Quivira Basin , inhabited by a noisy group of California sea lions and quiet-but-curious harbor seals . On the other side of the main channel from the basin , Mariner ’ s Point is a great place to spot California least terns , pelicans and cormorants .
Meanwhile , Perez Cove , which is located beside SeaWorld San Diego , is one of only three known nesting sites in San Diego County for the great blue heron . They make their nests in the big Torrey pines along the west side of the cove .
STERNWHEELER CRUISES Another way to explore Mission Bay , both in the daylight and after dark , is hopping aboard one of the riverboat replicas based at Bahia : the Bahia Belle and the William D . Evans . Although both of the vessels ’ appearances are inspired by turn-of-thecentury sternwheelers , they have very different stories .
Previously known as the Juanita , Bahia Belle was once a 45-foot ferry . In 1961 , after Evans Hotels acquired it to provide convenient transportation for guests between the Catamaran and Bahia properties , it was reconstructed as an authentic Mississippistyle sternwheeler . It was rebuilt 20 years later in order to accommodate up to 200 passengers .
Today , the 74-foot Bahia Belle offers family-friendly voyages and evening cocktail cruises between March and November . Three stories tall and topped by an observation deck with sweeping views across the water , the boat is a longtime fixture on Mission Bay and well-known to local residents .
Running seasonally , Bahia Belle Cruises are available to both hotel guests and the general public . Advance online ticket reservations are required . The Bahia Belle After Dark experience ( for ages 21 and over ) features music and dancing , as well as beer , wine and specialty cocktails .
Although it looks straight out of the 1800s , the William D . Evans is actually fairly new . Named after the man who founded the Bahia and Catamaran properties , the vessel was launched in September 1986 and , like the Bahia Belle , it was custom-built in San Diego .
Much larger than its sister ship , the William D . Evans is used for private affairs , offering a unique , historical setting for events such as wedding receptions , high school dances and corporate events . g
BEYSTER FAMILY LITTLE BLUE PENGUINS now open
Birch Aquarium becomes the only aquarium in the west to showcase Little Blue Penguins . These pint-size penguins stand under 12 inches and weigh just 2 to 3 pounds ! Come meet them for yourself .
LA JoLLA , CA • TICKETS AVAILABLE AT HoTEL
MISSION : BEACH ! 23