05 Oct Living and Buying Real Estate on Coronado Island in San Diego
Discover Coronado Island
Where can you find beautiful beaches, world-class resort hotels, incredible historical sites, and the birthplace of United States Naval aviation? Coronado Island is only a 5 minute drive from downtown San Diego. 15 minutes by boat. There are a few choice spots you can find local San Diegans on the weekends. This is one of them.
If you drive, you’ll take the San Diego-Coronado Bridge (called the “Coronado Bridge” locally). For public transportation, bus 901 leaves the 12th & Imperial Transit Center at least once per hour, traveling all the way to Hotel del Coronado. To get to Coronado by water you have a couple options (unless you’re a boat owner). The Coronado Ferry and a water taxi will both get you there and back from downtown (near the Convention Center), costing from $4.50 to $8.00 each way. You can also drive from Imperial Beach if you’re traveling north.
Until connected in 1945, Coronado was two islands separated by the Spanish bight (North Island from Coronado). Looking from a bird’s-eye perspective, the Island is divided almost in half, Navy base on the north side and civilian on the south. Coronado is connected to Imperial Beach (to the south) by a narrow strip of land — Silver Strand Boulevard (Highway 75). The Strand is one of Coronado’s five main areas. It’s a combination of Navy facilities (read: SEAL training), state park, and residential (e.g. Coronado Cays) and commercial spots. Among the commercial spots you’ll find the Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Spa. There’s also a bike path called the Bayshore Bikeway you can use to explore by foot or bike.
What are the other four neighborhoods? One is the San Diego Bay side of Coronado, where you’ll find the ferry landing in part of a complex of gift shops and restaurants. The Bayshore Bikeway follows the Bay past restaurants, apartments, shopping, the Coronado Golf Course, Tidelands Park, and a Marriott Resort & Spa. It offers incredible views of the San Diego skyline. The plan for the Bikeway is that it will extend 24 miles around San Diego Bay (15 miles exist so far). In other words, it only gets better.
The beaches: North, Central, South, Silver Strand — all connected and on the opposite side of Coronado from San Diego Bay. If you’re bringing dogs, go to North Beach. There’s even an area to wash them after playing. Facilities for humans are on Central, including the lifeguard tower. Central extends to Hotel del Coronado (known locally as “Hotel del”). Access to the beach is available every few hundred feet along Ocean Boulevard (which runs parallel to the beach), and via Hotel Del. Walking along South Beach, you’ll eventually run into a Navy guard. This is where you want to stop. But if you drive south on Highway 75, you’ll reach access to Silver Strand Beach. There are Navy installations on the north end of the Island as well.
On any given day, you’ll see people playing volleyball, sunbathing, and walking on the beaches. There are almost always a lot of boogie boarders in the surf. Kids enjoy running around in the shallow dunes, which are up the beach and close to Ocean Boulevard.
With the Navy presence on the Island, let me give you advance notice about the planes. The last thing most people expect while they’re reading a Tom Clancy novel in the shade of their beach umbrella is to see a military helicopter overhead and planes approaching from the horizon. The Navy runs training flights, including touch-and-go flights that involve landing on a base air strip, then immediately taking off again. You might know that the San Diego International Airport is near downtown. Most locals are accustomed to planes overhead throughout the day. Think of it as adding a little adventure to your trip!
From the beach, you can also see sailboats in the distance, and Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma peninsula to the north, home of the historic Point Loma lighthouse (another amazing place to visit). Turn south and you can see — on a clear day — Tijuana, Mexico.
Downtown Coronado is a charming, vibrant strip along Orange Avenue. Taco shops, surfing outfitters, Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge, and the Hotel Marisol Coronado are a few spots that give downtown its charm. Of course, there are the usual spots, too: library (beautiful modern architecture), post office, grocery stores. With everyone out enjoying the sun and beauty of Coronado, it’s often hard to tell tourists from locals.
Glorietta Bay is near Hotel Del at the south end of the Island. This is the last main area before setting off south down the Strand. It’s home to the luxury high rise Coronado Shores condominiums (designed by Palmer and Krisel and built between 1969 and 1979), Coronado Yacht Club, the Community Center, Playhouse, and the golf course. There’s another golf course in the middle of the Island for military personnel and civilian Department of Defense personnel.
If you want to get out on the water, there are a lot of ways to do so. Check out Seaforth Boat Rentals and consider renting a stand-up paddle board, kayak (available as singles and tandems), sailboat, power boat, or waverunner.
Hotel del is a world unto itself on Coronado. Opened in 1888, it was the world’s largest resort hotel, and is today the second largest wooden structure in the United States.
Among the thousands of guests through the decades have been celebrities and world leaders. They’ve included Katharine Hepburn, Vincent Price, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, and presidents back to Benjamin Harrison.
Another notable guest was L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz books. He and his family vacationed on Coronado in the early 1900s, staying in the Hotel and in a house on nearby Star Park Circle. Baum even designed four crown-inspired chandeliers that grace the Hotel’s Crown Room. It has been suggested that the Hotel’s turrets and regal appearance inspired the Emerald City of Oz.
If you’re unable to travel to Coronado soon, not to worry. Atop Hotel Del is a live camera feed for enjoying a view of the Hotel and water.