Day 12 – San Diego – La Jolla Scuba Diving – San Diego Wine Tasting – Big Beers!

So Today was to be a relaxed day following our pretty epic whirlwind road trip. Relaxed for me means a morning spent diving the Cold Water Kelp forests of La Jolla Obviously! Although for once Kate did actually get a genuinely relaxed morning, just pottering around the hotel organizing a few things, and so on.

Day 12 - San Diego - La Jolla Scuba Diving - San Diego Wine Tasting - Big Beers!

For me it was a 6:30 am alarm to get ready and get across to La Jolla to meet the Dive Guide at 8:00 am. As I drank my morning coffee the view from the Balcony was disconcerting. The Surf was really high. Large waves smashing into the shore. The skies were the typical overcast gray as to be expected in May/June on the west coast. But the high winds and crashing waves were less typical. This did not bode well for the diving.

La Jolla Scuba Diving with Scuba San Diego

Sure enough on the way to meet the guide, I got a text saying the planned La Jolla Cove was a no-go and we needed to meet at a different location if we were going to dive at all. This was quite disappointing as the La Jolla Cove is a stunning dive site and one I have wanted to dive for years. But it wasn’t to be.

I had chosen to Dive with Scuba San Diego. They are a long-standing company that has offered guided dive trips for over 50 years in and around San Diego. They are not a flashy outfit but have excellent divemasters and good gear and know the waters like the back of their hand. On challenging Coldwater dives in surf and low-vis it’s important to trust your divemaster! Ken was certainly a phenomenal diver and made us all feel very at ease over what was to be some pretty challenging diving!

Meeting at La Jolla Shores park we discussed the proposed dives. Essentially we were to swim out to the canyon, a small feature around 200 meters offshore. Then descend down and follow it along to the north on the first dive and then the south on the second dive. The water temp was low, and the visibility was predicted to be poor but the surf in the La Jolla bay was far calmer than around the headland and in Pacific Beach. There were 5 of us diving in total. Two Germans who were in San Diego on Business and after some downtime. A trainee dive instructor getting his dives in, Ken the Dive Master, and Myself. Having the trainee along meant we were on a really nice 1.5-1 instructor ratio!

The First Dive was pretty poor. That’s just the way things go. There was almost no visibility and sea life was almost non-existent. Apart from these little Squat Crabs or Tuna Crabs as Ken called them. A few tiny fish and some bristle worms and that was about all we saw. Admittedly there were literally millions of the tuna crabs. The floor was awash with these funky little critters but after 10/15 mins of them, it got a little samey.

A 15 minute Swimout each way in cold water was not really worth the meager pay off and on the way back from the first dive I had decided that was enough and I would not be doing the second dive. It’s not the dive shop’s fault, just nature being nature. Fortunately, Ken had the same feeling, and not wanting to cancel the second dive came up with an alternate dive site.

This would see an even longer surface swim as we headed out toward the La Jolla underwater Marine Reserve. The surf here was much worse and the visibility could have been even worse than the Canyon, but it was worth the risk as the canyon just wasn’t very good today. As we entered the water the signs were good as small stingray’s played at our feet and a juvenile sea lion swam along as we headed out to the site.

The Gamble was well worth it and the second Dive site was incredible. Rammed with sea life including Horn Sharks, Shovelnose Guitarfish, Giant Sea Bass, California Sheepheads, Lingcod, and of course the legendary Garibaldi! All set amongst the mesmerizing sea bed covered in long seagrass that moved in the waves making the dive disorientating but spectacular. It was as good as I hoped from La Jolla and really saved the day so Kudos the Ken for doing what was needed to find us some good diving!

After the dive, we swam back to shore and lugged all the kit back to the pick-up point. I said my goodbyes and headed back to Hotel to pick Kate up and head out for a wine tasting!

Bernardo Winery

Bernardo Winery wines

California is well known for its wines but San Diego less so, however, there are still quite a few wineries in and around the area that produce some excellent wines so we thought a visit to a vineyard to sample a few would be a very pleasant afternoon. There are several Urban winetastings available but really, we wanted the whole vineyard experience out in the hills. If we just wanted to drink wine we could head to Trader Joe’s!

Bernardo Winery

The one that stood out to us was Bernardo Winery in the northern hills of San Diego. The Rancho Bernardo Neighbourhood is a modern area custom-built to house San Diego’s growing population but the Winery is about as old as America (built in 1889) itself and the town built up around it. The grounds are really beautiful. Filled with paraphilia of its winemaking past, presses, and stills and such like. Lush Tropical plants adorned the old rustic buildings, pathways, and historical Machines and it really is a little slice of heaven. The trip inland and the fact it was afternoon meant the cloud had burnt off and the sun shone and the birds sang while Hummingbirds drank nectar from the flowers…Which reminds me, we should start drinking some nectar too!

Bernardo Winery Hummingbird

The Wine tasting is $16 for 5 wines (Check Groupon though as we got a 2 for 1!) from a list of about 12. These are paired with a free chocolate per tasting from their chocolate shop. You simply choose your wine and wander around the grounds sipping away enjoying the beauty. It was heavenly.

The Wines themselves ranged from ok to stunning. The California sparkling wine was a bit poor. It just lacked some of the charms we are used to from sparkling wine. Being from the UK we can get real Champagne or Great Prosecco really cheaply so it wasn’t stand out for us. The Chablis was nice, but it wasn’t a Chablis!

Bernardo Winery sign vineyard

As we moved onto the reds things improved and the finale, the Chocolate Bar port was stunning. Sweet, rich, and full of flavor, one small glass was nowhere near enough so we bought a bottle or two to take home! It is worth saying there was absolutely NO pressure to buy more than the tasting, apart from going through the wines and taking the tasting order you are left completely alone to enjoy the grounds. It’s quiet, peaceful, and serene. We only bought more because the Port was so gorgeous we needed more!

After an hour or so our glasses were empty and are tasting over and we, unfortunately, had to leave, we could have sat there for hours in the sunshine in our newfound paradise but alas the day was getting away from us.

Bernardo Winery rest

So we headed back to the hotel and back to the World Famous PB. Tonight’s Happy Hour was $3 Lobster Tacos. We thought the Shrimp Tacos were good yesterday but these were stunning. The amount of meat you got for $3 was astounding! After that, we headed to the Amplified Ales behind the Hotel as they had Stien night on – 32 Oz Stiens of German Beer for $7…Yes Please!

World Famous PB lobster Tacos
32oz Stien

Tomorrow we were planning on hitting San Diego HARD. We had a couple of 3-Day San Diego Go Passes and were planning on making the most of these. So we had an early night ready for an early start and a busy day. However, the weather was really starting to play tricks on us.

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