Shelter Island might not be the first destination travelers think of when planning a vacation to San Diego. This tropical retreat is less than 10 minutes from San Diego International Airport. Shelter Island sits directly across from North Island Naval Air Station. You may get a chance to see a warship or aircraft carrier cruising the bay while an aircraft performs maneuvers in the sky. One may think this might be a pretty noisy place to relax and decompress. Not so fast. The airport and naval base traffic patterns do not fly over the island so it is much quieter and more calm than a map would suggest. Shelter Island is well known to fishermen, who come far and wide to board a charter in hopes of reeling in the “big one.” At night, the island is very quiet, with people walking along the marinas or enjoying a view of the San Diego skyline while sitting by the bay. It is the perfect place to truly relax and disconnect from the world. Shelter Island is also situated in a central location to every major attraction the city has to offer.

Where to stay

Best Western Island Palms Marina View Room

Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina – This location is less than 10 minutes from San Diego International Airport. The hotel boasts 227 guest rooms, full and junior suites, and spacious waterfront villas. Guests have the ability to book accommodations with a bay or marina view. We prefer the marina side. It is more quiet than the bay side, and offers great views of Point Loma and the Shelter Island marinas. This property also has two pools with spas, a private yacht marina, and a full service restaurant and bar. I would recommend trying to book accommodations in the Casa Del Mar section of the hotel. This section is only a three minute walk from the reception desk and the restaurant. The Casa Del Mar rooms are spacious suites and the pool and spa is more intimate and less crowded than the larger pool by reception.

What To Do in San Diego

What to do

People staying on Shelter Island often come to escape the noise and stress of the world. The calming view of boats nestled in a marina, or an evening stroll along the shoreline, soothes the soul. For avid fishermen, hundreds of boats offer daily charter services. Shelter Island is close every major attraction in San Diego. Heading downtown to eat in the Gaslamp Quarter, shop at Seaport Village, walk the deck on the USS Midway, or catch at Padres game at Petco Park? It is a 20 minute drive. The cultural hub of San Diego, Balboa Park, and world reknown San Diego Zoo, are also 20 minutes away. Aquatic SeaWorld, rollercoasters at Belmont Park and the warm sands on Mission Beach are just 15 minutes from Shelter Island. Seeking a more upscale experience on your trip? Coronado Island and the Hotel Del Coronado are a half hour away.

Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay – This intimate outdoor concert venue is situated right in the heart of Humphrey’s resort. From early spring through late fall, dozens of famous performers from rock, jazz, and comedy, entertain audiences. Great views of Point Loma and San Diego Bay compliment the performances on stage. 

Good Eats in San Diego

Where to Eat

There are plenty of options for food on and around Shelter Island. Below we illustrate our favorite spots for some great food or drink.

Blue Wave Bar & Grill  – This restaurant is located in the Best Western. They serves all day, but breakfast is when they are at their best. The Classic American Breakfast or Denver Omellette will fill you up for a day of adventure or relaxing in San Diego.

Point Loma Seafood – This place is loaded with seafood of every kind. People pack this joint to buy fish for later, or to eat on the premises. Eating here is a must, and get seats outside if possible. Starte with an order of 6 Bluepoint Oysters on the half shell. For a main dish, the Sea of Cortez Shrimp Plate is filling while the Combo Plate with Fresh Crab and Bay Shrimps, is delicious.

Eppig Brewery – Eppig is located a minute from Point Loma Seafood and has incredible views of America’s Cup Harbor and the downtown skyline. It’s dog friendly and their beer selection is always top notch. Eppig’s roster of beers changes often,, but you will usually find the Harbor Cruise Kolsch or International Style Pilsner. Both beers are popular, refreshing, and smooth, especially on a hot San Deigo afternoon.

Ketch – This cozy concept offers amazing views of America’s Cup harbor. We suggest starting your meal with Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower or Fried Pickles, then digging into main options of Sesame Crusted Big Eye Tuna or Slow Braised Short Rib.

Mitch’s Seafood – This place is right around the corner from Point Loma Seafood, as is tiny in comparison. Don’t let the small confines fool you. It’s awesome and there is always a line at lunch time. Tables are hard to come by as is the bar style seating outside by the marina. Patrons tend to eat quickly, so although Mitch’s is busy, finding a place to sit never seems tobe an issue. A must for an appetizer is the Fried Calamari. For a main entree, we love the Crab Cake Basket or Grilled Fish Sandwich. The grilled fish options change daily based upon what the fisherman bring in. The fish sandwiches go quickly so if it is still see the option on the board order it. We have never been disappointed ordering varieties of fish sandwiches from Mitch’s over the years. Wash your food down with one of the many local San Diego micro-brew options on tap. 

Supannee House of Thai – This place is always busy, so a reservation is highly recommended. As you look around at what others are ordering, you will find the servers delivering a steady stream of Summer Rolls to almost every table. Join the crowd and order them. For main entree options, we tend to stick to what we love, which is some combination of Tom Yum Noodle Soup, Kabocha Squash Curry, or Grapow Pork Belly

Better Buzz Coffee – This coffee shop is a 25 minute walk front the Best Western, or a 5 minute ride by car. I don’t know if they serve the best coffee in the world, but for our money, they do serve up the best coffee in San Diego. The Honey Latte is my favorite, although their most popular drink is the Best Drink Ever, an Americano with creamy vanilla.

Our Favorite Seafood Restaurant near Shelter Island

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