Exploring Coronado Island San Diego CA

Map Coronado and North Island-1918
Map of Coronado-note the ‘small neck of land (The Silver Strand) toward the right corner of the map.

Every year, Coronado Beach makes the Top 10 beaches in the US. This beach is one of my children’s favorite as well. Coronado Island in San Diego, CA can be seen across San Diego Bay from Downtown San Diego.

In particular, we enjoy the vast sandy beaches and adore going into the Hotel del Coronado; located less than a mile from our starting point.

Would you like to take a tour of Coronado Island in San Diego CA? Well, you have come to the right place. Come and join me for an epic adventure, going back in time and staying in the present at the same time!

Let’s go!

How Do I Get to Coronado Island?

There several ways to get here, but the most popular route would be crossing over the Coronado Bridge. Another option would be coming up from the south via Imperial Beach, or you can park in Downtown San Diego and take a ferry over which is quite fun.

Coronado Island San Diego CA
The kids look excited to start our walk. (2007)

A Little History of Coronado Island 

Coronado Bridge Coronado Island San Diego CA
Coronado Island San Diego Ca

First off,  Coronado is a land tied island. So why is Coronado called Coronado Island?

The term island was used to drive tourism to the area; in other words, a marketing ploy.

The Silver Strand is what you call a tombolo, which in essence is a sandbar joining an island to the mainland.

Nevertheless, Coronado sure does feel like an island.  Especially when the Coronado Bridge is not open, and the Silver Strand flooded, there is no other way on or off except by ferry.

Regardless, the story of how Coronado Island came about is fascinating. Dr. Pat Abbott an SDSU Geology Professor who is an expert in this area has a fabulous explanation found here.


 Fascinating Coronado Island Facts 

Hotel del Coronado Coronado Island San Diego CA

Coronado Island San Diego CA

1562-Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, under the Spanish flag, claims the port and names in San Miguel (now known as San Diego)

1602– Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spanish explorer,  first sailed into the bay and renamed it San Diego de Alcala. He soon after makes a crude map that was shared with the rest of the world.  No other European visits the area again for 167 years

1850-1870– Shore whaling was very popular. Longboats would row out pass the Point Loma Peninsula and kill migrating whales and then bring them back to Coronado for processing

1888– Hotel del Coronado opens, just 11 months after the groundbreaking. In fact, it was the largest Hotel Resort in the world at the time.

1936– The SS Monte Carlo,  anchored 3 miles offshore in International waters was a ‘pleasure’ barge where one could drink, gamble, and dance. On December 31, a massive storm came up and caused it to sink.  Hundreds of vacationers were watching while it happened, and waited for the souvenirs to wash up on shore. At low tide, you can see the ruins just South of Hotel del Coronado.

coronado island san diego CA
Located south of the Hotel del Coronado.

There are so many more interesting historical facts that I found. If you would like to learn more, please visit here.


Let’s Get Walking!

Coronado North Island Coronado Island San Diego CA
Looking back towards Naval Air Station North Island base.
Coronado Island San Diego CA

We start our walk at the most northwestern area, right next to the Naval Air Station North Island.

Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
The sparkly gold flecks in the sand are Mica.
Coronado Beach Sand Coronado Island San Diego CA
Mica and shells
Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
What was she looking at in the sand? It turned out to be a ladybug-they are all over the beach.
Lady Bug On Sand Coronado Beach
Ladybug busy on the beach.
Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Looking back at Point Loma Peninsula.

On the other side of the Point Loma peninsula is Sunset Cliffs Natural Park with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the go-to place for incredible sunset photos.

At the tip of Point Loma sits the Cabrillo National Monument. Here you will find the best tide pools to explore in all of Southern California- a hidden gem.


Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado Coronado Island San Diego CA
Built-in 1880- Hotel del Coronado was the most extensive resort hotel in the world at the time
Coronado Island San Diego CA

One of the primary reasons that our family loves to go to Coronado is to visit this hotel. It has such rich history along with the incredible architecture.

I just can not seem to get enough of this place!

If you venture down to the first floor, some photos chronicle many events that have taken place here.

Strange happenings have and still do occur here; such as the haunted room 3502.

In fact, so many strange things have happened here that housekeeping keeps in pairs when working in this room! If you are interested in learning more, please visit here.

Hotel del Coronado Coronado Island San Diego CA
Getting close to the Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado Walkway
Walking up to the Hotel del Coronado.

One of the back entrances. 

Hotel del Coronado Wooden Ceiling
View of the ceiling in the lobby.
Hotel del Coronado Courtyard
View from the inside courtyard.
Norfolk Island Pine Hotel del Coronado
Norfolk Island Pine-First electrically lit Christmas tree in the US (1904)-located at the front entrance.
Hotel del Coronado Christmas Tree 1904
Special thanks to the Hotel del Coronado for this photo from 1904
Hotel del Coronado Courtyard
View from the hotel’s courtyard.
Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Beach view.
Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego Ca
I would love to sit in one of those lounging beach chairs!

Heading South on Coronado Beach

Coronado Island San Diego CA
Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
In front of Hotel-notice Mexico’s Coronado Islands?

In the left corner looking south, is the largest of Mexico’s Islas Los Coronado, which is located 15 miles from San Diego Bay.

North Island, is one of four islands off the Northwest coast of Baja California. I have been out there twice, and it is breathtaking.

The islands are uninhabited except for a small military installment and a couple of lighthouses.

If you are fishing out near there, expect to see the Mexican military in boats checking for licenses.

Gator Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Gator Beach at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado-looking south toward Silver Strand State Beach

Once you come to this point, markers are indicating that it is Military property.

Fun Fact- The Gator Beach at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado is the beach where the Navy Seals do their training.

Turning toward the ocean at this spot, you can see part of the SS Monte Carlo in the surf.

SS Monte Carlo Coronado Beach
Look what the low tide is uncovering!

We have gone as far as we are going today, so let us start heading toward the dunes and ice plants.

Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Coronado Beach with Point Loma Peninsula in the background.
Coronado Shores Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Jetty right in front of the Hotel del Coronado.

Message in the Ice Plant?

California sea rocket Coronado Island San Diego CA
California sea rocket
Coronado Island San Diego CA

Coronado Islands dunes are another favorite spot we love to check out!

Hottentot-fig Coronado Island San Diego CA
Hottentot-fig
Coronado Sand Dune Coronado Island San Diego CA
Coronado dunes.
Coronado Dunes Coronado Island San Diego CA
Girls are picking up trash in the dunes (2010)

Can you see the secret hidden in plain sight here?

The ice plant in the dunes spells out Coronado. Armando Moreno, a city employee, created this absolute wonder, in 1988.

Aerial View Coronado Ice Plant
North of Hotel del Coronado Hotel

Heading back toward the shoreline, we made a fantastic discovery!

Pacific Sand dollar Coronado Island San Diego CA
Pacific Sand dollar.

What an exciting day for me. I had never seen a live sand dollar before! Here is a video explaining what a sand dollar is:

Coronado Beach Coronado Island San Diego
Coming up to North Island.

Naval Air Station North Island

North Island Beach Barrier
Looking into Naval Air Station North Island
Coronado Island San Diego Ca

In college, I remember coming to this beach to lie on the sand and watch the aircraft take off as well as land.

Needless to say, but there is plenty of action taking place overhead at this beach.  First of all, it is a military air station, so just the name should give that away, yes?

I do not know, but I think maybe, the beauty of the surroundings overshadows the constant noise of military aircraft.

North Island Beach Barrier

North Island Electric Fence Runway
Naval Air Station North Island.

 The pilot waved to us when landing this helicopter. It was a good day.

Naval Air Station North Island Helicopter
Naval Air Station North Island.
Coronado Dog Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Playing with shadows at Coronado Dog Beach.
Coronado Island Mansion Coronado Island San Diego CA
Close to where we start our walk.
Coronado Dog Beach Coronado Island San Diego CA
Dogs even have water here!

North Island Address


Thank you for accompanying us on our journey of the Western Shore of Coronado Island in San Diego, California.

I hope I piqued your interest and especially wish that one day you too can experience for yourself, one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego.

Please feel free to leave me any suggestions or comments/questions.

I would enjoy hearing from you!

Until next time!


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Coronado Island San Diego CA

 

 

I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!

4 Replies to “Exploring Coronado Island San Diego CA”

  1. This was a beautiful tour of the island! The pictures are great, and give a sense of what you actually see. Thank you for the history of the area! I also liked the video introduction to the sand dollar. I’ve never seen a live one, so that was fascinating. Great job! Keep it up!

    1. Hi, Scott. Aren’t those sand dollars unbelievable! Coronado has always been memorable to our family. We all just love the rich history of the Hotel del Coronado, and the walk on the beach is very calming.Thank you so much for visiting.

  2. Wow! I was transported to another country, another continent in your post! What a beautiful place that is!

    You have captured it so well with all your pictures – it’s amazing!

    Thanks for sharing this lovely place with us, now I can add Coronado Island on my “to visit” list!
    Cheers – Orion

    1. Hi Orion, I am so pleased that you felt that way. That is what I am trying to go for en essence. I enjoy learning the history of places; it makes the experience just that much more special.Thank you for visiting!

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