Day 15 – San Diego Go Pass Hands-On Review Day 3 – SpeedBoat Tour – USS Midway Museum – Bay Cruise – La Jolla

Our last day in San Diego and our last full day of the trip. So were we planning on taking it easy and getting ready for the long trip home…not a chance! We were going to load up on Go Pass Attractions and see as much of the City as we could in the remaining time! Starting early at 9 am at Harbor Island for a Speed Boat Tour of the Bay!

San Diego Speedboat Tours – $69.90

San Diego Go Pass Hands-On Review Day 3 - Speed Boat Tour - USS Midway Museum

Me and Kate agree on so many things but Speedboats is one that we clash on. I love them, nearly as much as cars. I love Boats in general and the Ocean, simply being on the water makes me insanely happy, while Kate loves the ocean, she is more wary of it than I. Sitting in a small Plastic missile with a huge engine on the back is not the way she likes to enjoy the water. So my constant requests of Can we Get a Speedboat are swiftly put to bed. But to have a Guide Speedboat tour as one of the pass attractions was too good to miss up … for me that is.

Kate begrudgingly agreed and came along for the ride. We have done tours such as these before and we have survived so she put her trust in me (more the guide I think actually) and headed off to play in boats. We had been finding San Diego wakes up late and most attractions open quite late. However, the Speed boat tour was booked for 9:00 am as we needed to be there for 8:30 am This meant fighting rush hour traffic and hunting out a very elusive parking spot. It is worth saying we had booked the tour the day before as this is one of the tours the requires pre-booking but using the hotel phone it was an easy a painless process.

At the office we checked in, showed our pass and we showed the meeting point where we would meet our guide and other participants. The group was small just us and a group of 5 who would take two boats. So that is Kate and me in one boat, Two between the other group and the guide in a boat on his own. You always get your own boat and have to drive it yourself. You can split the driving at certain points along the course so everyone who wants’s to gets to drive. Kate really had no interest so it was me doing all the driving.

Speedboat San Diego Tour

The Guide led us to the boats and gave a quick but thorough briefing on boat operation, waterway navigation, and safety. It was all pretty simple, basically, follow him! Then we were assigned boats and headed out the harbor. This part of the tour was pretty dull, speed limits in the harbor are very low and the sail out to the marker buoys seemed to take an age. But once out in the open waters of the bay, we throttled up and took off.

The boats are far from high-class luxury powerboats but simple fiberglass hulls with 30-50hp engines. It’s just enough to get you up on the plane and motor along at a decent rate. However, we were at the back and seemed we had the slowest boat and much to my annoyance we were being left behind. This did not sit well with my competitive nature! As we neared the first stop the Bait Barge and Submarine Base I had worked out how to get an extra kick of performance out of the boat to keep up.

San Diego Speedboat Tour Map

At the Bait Barge, there is a large colony of California Sealions basking () on the docks and these were great to see. The sea life around San Diego is very rich. The Submarine Base slightly less exciting as the top-secret nuclear Subs are pretty well hidden from view. We then Picked the Pace up again and headed across the bay to the Naval Station. Another let down for us. The Piolets seemed to be having a lie in so nothing was moving so we witnessed no takeoffs, but we were in very close proximity to the base so if you do get lucky it would be very spectacular. Another letdown was the empty Carrier pens!

San Diego Bay is home to two Nimitz Class Air Craft Carriers (Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln) and we were really looking forward to getting to see these. Unfortunately, these are not Tourist attractions and the Navy had decided it actually needed them so were out at sea.

The Tour then crosses back to the mainland side as we head down the San Diego Sea Front, Past all the hotel’s, marinas, and green spaces that make up this beautiful part of the City. We then get really up close and personal with the USS Midway and then into the Maritime Museum with a host of old boats including a preserved pirate ship and the Star of India a fully restored Sailing ship that is truly magnificent. From here it’s one last power blast back to the marina and the last chance for some fun in the boats before a slow crawl back to the dock.

Honestly, the tour was a complete blast. We got to see some great sights of the City and on a luckier day, it could have been even better. But that is just the luck of the draw. The boats were not super fast but they were seriously easy to drive and navigation was a breeze. Our tour leader was great fun and was in communication via the radio through the trip. This is such a great addition to the San Diego Pass and definitely one to check out. Especially as it is not a regular attraction (It used to be premium)

USS Midway Museum – $23

USS Midway Museum

Back on Dryland, we headed around to the San Diego Waterfront District for a couple more attractions. We planned on doing a Cruise in the Bay so the first job was to grab some tickets for that. We had spent all day attempting to phone Hornblower to try and pre-book but had been unable to get through, So we were left with the lottery of getting timed tickets on the day. But before we could do that we had to park. This was quite a job and we ended up paying more than we needed to after following a misleading sign and were stuck in a pier parking lot who wanted $20 for the day. We had already been circling the busy Waterfront area along with its interesting one way systems so cracked and just paid up. We then headed to the Hornblower cruise Booth who got us on the next tour of the South Bay with enough time to grab a bite to eat and then visit the USS Midway Museum.

We made a critical error at this point. It was quite cool, and a little overcast so we left the SunBlock in the car…

We headed over to the USS Midway and headed up to the main decks and aircraft displays. The Midway id spectacularly huge, amazing to think this is an antiquated and obsolete machine dwarfed by the Nimitz and Gerald Ford Class. Just being aboard and exploring such an impressive vessel is cool enough but there is a whole host of cool aircraft aboard as well to explore. The Highlight, of course, being the f-14 Tomcat.

Miramar Airbase is only a few miles from San Francisco and for those that don’t know is the Spiritual home of TopGun. So having an F-14 Tomcat, the real star of the film is very fitting, there is even a cockpit display featuring the pilot names of Maverick and Goose! I probably got a bit over-excited by this. But it isn’t every day you go to TopGun!

Midway Museum Deck

One of the best features of the Museum is the elevation of the flight deck which provides stunning views of the bay and just exploring the deck and looking out over the city and bay is worth the entry fee!

By now the sun was beginning to really peak out of the haze but the breeze kept things cool but we were beginning to feel the sun. After taking in the Museum we wandered around to the “Embracing Peace Statue”. This re-creation of the Iconic photo is a little controversial with some people feeling it too large and Gawky but we kind of like it and it certainly proved popular for selfie-takers! We then grabbed some Nachos off a street seller and headed to our Cruise.

1 Hour Bay Cruise By Hornblower – South Bay Tour – $ 28

We arrived at the Cruise terminal about 15 mins prior to the cruise which got us near the front of the queue. It is important to get on the boat quite early as seating is limited. The Cruise operates two route north bay or south bay. But you can purchase both for a 2-hour cruise, so anyone who is on this option will already be on the boat so as you get on there are only so many seats up on the top deck.

Hornblower bay Cruise

We found a nice spot up against the rail and settled in ready for the cruise. But people desperate for a good seat seemed intent on invading our personal space. The Seating is not fixed and people just kept moving chairs taking up more and more space!

We had chosen the South bay cruise mainly as we had seemed pretty much all of the north bay this morning on the Speedboat tour and a lot of the best parts of the north bay were not present. So we wanted to take a look at the south. This route takes in the Coronado, the Coronado Bridge and the Naval Base of San Diego with a large amount of the latest frigates and Destroyers of the US Navy on Display. This route also has the best views of the City Skyline. While San Diego’s Skyline isn’t on the scale of NYC or Chicago, it’s still a beautiful sight and well worth getting the best view which is pretty much what this tour offers.

As we pulled out of the harbor we went to check out the Bar. Anywhere that has a captive audience is pretty renowned for price gouging so we expected the bar to be extortionate, with the holiday nearly over funds were running dry and we needed to be careful. With Budweiser and Prosecco at $6, we were very pleasantly surprised!

The first part of the tour cruises up the coast past the (empty) carrier pens then along the Coronado with it’s interesting and unique architecture where no two houses are the same. Of Course, they are all similarly expensive! We then cruise under the Coronado Bridge and along the Naval Base. The ships hear are largely in the Cutting edge category such as the Independence-class and Zumwalt-class ships which both appear like they were designed by Batman! The lines of the ships are designed with stealth in mind making them appear like a vision of the future. They are an awesome sight!

San Diego Naval Base

The Final part of the Cruise is along the San Diego Waterfront taking in the Skyline of the City where we just sat back and enjoyed the cruise. There are three options for cruises included on the Pass. In both the Summer and Winter there are whale watching cruises that showcase San Diego’s awesome whale populations but our timing was poor and with the Whales being Migratory there were no whales and no cruises so we settled on the bay cruise which is still amazing.

San Diego Skyline

By the end of the cruise, the error of leaving the Sun Block in the car was becoming apparent. The sun had not been too intense, and the skies quite cloudy all day but we had, to be blunt, been burnt to a crisp! It really was a schoolboy error!

Evening at La Jolla

Following the Cruise, we headed back to the Hotel. The plan had been to head to La Jolla to make use of the Tandem Kayak Hire Available on the pass. But the Ocean conditions we looking far too rough for Kayaking. The pass has this covered and there are two locations. La Jolla and Coronado. With Coronado being sheltered but La Jolla Subject to the whim of the Pacific Ocean. However, it was our last night and we really wanted to spend it in La Jolla, which is one of the most beautiful locations anywhere in the world in our opinion. So we just left the Kayaking. We had already got massive value from the pass and just wanted a chilled evening in paradise.

So after organizing our stuff and packing up, we headed out for the evening. La Jolla was really busy. Unsurprising as the skies had now cleared and it was a seriously beautiful evening. There was also a Prom going on somewhere and the parks and cliffs were overrun with Teens in their Tux’s and Ball Gowns looking for that perfect Pre-Prom Photo!

We Strolled along the Clifftops, watched the Habor Seals play on Children’s beach, Watched the Sealions Bark and pose for photo’s for the tourists, Admired the Lorax*** tree in the Ellen Browning Scripps Park, and watched the incredible abundance and density of seabirds making their homes on the rocks. Generally just taking in the incredible beauty and wonder of the place. It really is a wonderful little part of the world. You cannot come to San Diego and not Visit La Jolla!

*** It is with a heavy heart we have to announce the Lorax Tree, A Monterey Cypress that is thought to be the inspiration for Dr. Suess’s Truffula Tree in the Lorax has mysteriously fallen down! It has since been chopped up and disposed of by the Authorities and is no more! We must say we were pretty gutted to hear this!

For dinner, we visited the Crab Catcher Restaurant. This little place sits atop the cliffs and overlooks the La Jolla Bay and Cove. We managed to arrive just in time for Happy hour so enjoyed some excellent Fish Taco’s and Calamari for a bargain price of $5 along with some nice Local Wine and Beer while looking out of the window admiring the awesome elevated views. The Full dinner menu did look amazing but it was not cheap and as we said before our funds were low. Our last evening meal for the trip and it was utterly delightful.

After this, we strolled back along the cliffs while the sunset then back to the hotel for an early night as tomorrow was to be a very early start!

Go San Diego Pass running Total

The Last day we easily managed three attractions one of very high value. We could easily have done another such as kayaking, heading back to Sea World, or maybe out for a flying visit to the San Diego Safari Park. But we really just wanted to enjoy La Jolla, So we did. The Golden rule of Attraction passes is don’t let getting value out of the pass make you miss out on things you really want to do.

  • Day 1 : 3 Attractions $96
  • Day 2 : 2 Attractions $148
  • Day 3 : 3 Attractions $121

As you can see even with us skipping the last attraction we still got startling value from the pass. For only $186 each, we had seen and done just about everything we could have wanted to in San Diego. This would have easily cost us over $179 done separately. Or the alternative is we would have just done a lot less. Even just Visiting the Zoo and SeaWorld is almost the same cost as the pass and these are always our must-see attractions.

Like all our experiences with Go Passes it completely transformed our trip. It is so often hard to know what to do and see in a City. The pass does so much of the work for you and means you really get to see so much of the City. We had a Blast in San Diego and the pass was one of the main reasons for this.

Live Blog – Trip Report

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