FROM THRILLING POWERBOAT RIDES TO RELAXING STERNWHEELER CRUISES , THE BAY WAS MADE FOR MARITIME ADVENTURES .
BY JOE YOGERST
Mission Bay Park in San Diego , the largest man-made park of its kind in the country , lies on the back doorstep of Bahia Resort Hotel as well as Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa . Sprawling across more than 4,600 acres of roughly equal parts land and water , it offers ideal environments for almost every type of aquatic adventure , from powerboating , sailing and paddle sports to swimming , fishing and wildlife-watching .
The bay ’ s reputation as San Diego ’ s water wonderland dates back to the 1940s , when the city began the long and complex process of transforming the marshy estuary into what it is today . The task involved dredging bays and channels , then using all of that sand to create islands and build sturdy breakwaters so that boaters could easily reach the open ocean . Ultimately , more than 25 million cubic yards of sand and silt were dredged and moved to create the aquatic park .
Bayside resorts like Bahia ( opened in 1953 ) and Catamaran ( opened in 1958 ) followed — as did the first-ever SeaWorld theme park in 1964 — laying the groundwork for Mission Bay to morph into one of the nation ’ s leading vacation destinations .
In sculpting the bay , landscape architects and urban planners divided it into several distinct sectors , each with a specific purpose . Although those have evolved over the years , many of the original themes remain intact .
Sail Bay , the wide body of water between Catamaran and Bahia , is one example . As the name suggests , it ’ s primarily the realm of nonmotorized vessels like sailing boats , canoes and kayaks , pedal boats and paddleboards , as well as the sleek sculls of local rowing teams . The largest powered boats that are allowed to cruise Sail Bay on a regular basis are the Bahia Belle and the William D . Evans , reproduction sternwheelers that carry out passenger cruises and special events between Catamaran and Bahia . Because the waters are so calm , Sail Bay is an ideal place for learning how to sail or paddle . Many who are new to water sports flock to that section of the bay , from Boy and Girl Scouts practicing for their canoeing merit badge to people learning how to pilot a sailboat or balance on a stand-up paddleboard .
At the other end of the noise and speed spectrum , Fiesta Bay is all about powerboating . Located between Crown Point and Fiesta Island , this section of the bay is ideal for all kinds of motorized craft , from the little speedboats that guests at Catamaran and Bahia can rent from Action Sport Rentals to the thunderboats ( unlimited hydroplanes ) that
20 MISSION : BEACH !