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Escape to Adventure: San Diego

San Diego Travel Insider Guides Teva: Escape To Adventure
by Morgan deBoer Jul 8, 2011
San Diego’s temperate conditions and proximity to beaches, desert, and mountain wilderness make a stage for outdoor adventure year round.

TEVA has teamed up with Matador’s global community of outdoors fanatics to show you how to escape to adventure in 12 cities across America. In addition to the article series, we’ll be running an ongoing photo contest. Send us a photo of yourself adventuring abroad or in your back yard and you might win a free pair of new TEVAs.

Adventure: Surfing

Escape Time: 15-30 minutes from downtown
Payoff: Easily accessible breaks for surfers of all skill levels

I never get tired of seeing pickup trucks by my house loaded with surfboards. San Diego is a surf town and has dozens of breaks from the Mexican border up to Carlsbad. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t surf near river outlets after a rainstorm because of a risk of pollution.

Some breaks are more localized / heavy, but overall if you show respect it’s easy to surf San Diego, especially at these spots:

Pacific BeachTourmaline / Old Man’s has an easy-to-get-to parking lot, the crowd here is very mellow, and there’s a consistently good break for longboards.

Ocean Beach – Dog Beach and the pier can be crowded, and sometimes territorial surfers can make this a less fun break, but there are several spots to enter and easy parking. Sunset Cliffs is accessible from the cliffs and is less crowded, but depending on the tides the waves can break into the rocks. Paddle out with someone who knows the spot.

Imperial Beach – The pier is one of the southernmost breaks in San Diego and is never as crowded as the central beaches.

Adventure: Hiking

Escape Time: 20-60 minutes
Payoff: Views of the ocean from the desert or just a good workout

Cowles Mountain (easy to moderate, 3 miles round trip) – Appropriate for families, beginners, and dogs, Cowles is in the middle of San Diego County, and on a clear day hikers can see from downtown to the ocean to Mexico.

Ghost Mountain (easy, 1 mile round trip) – Near Julian, Ghost Mountain has the abandoned homestead site of the Marshal Family, who moved here to escape society in the 1930s. Hikers can check out their old home, beds, and garbage dump, which is still full of old tin cans.

Mount Woodson, Poway Recreational Area (moderate to difficult, 7 miles round trip) – Bring lots of water because this hike around Poway Lake and up the mountain is tough and can get very hot.

Adventure: Diving

Escape Time: 30-60 minutes
Payoff: Not exactly Caribbean diving, but plenty of wrecks and reefs to visit

The water surface temp stays between 55 and 70 degrees (with up to a 10-degree drop past the thermocline) most of the year, so this is not warm-weather diving. But La Jolla Cove, Point Loma Kelp Beds, and sites all along the North County Coast are available to divers.

There are also sunken Navy ships and submarines like the HMCS Yukon, USS Hogan, and S-37 submarine — all great places for more advanced divers to check out the wrecks and wildlife that make their home there.

Adventure: Skydiving

Escape Time: 25 minutes
Payoff: Full-service training and skydiving in a wide open space

Skydive San Diego operates in Jamul, which is close to downtown San Diego. They are an all-inclusive company that runs their own airport and drops skydivers at a drop zone close to their facility.

The Otay Lakes Road drop zone is ringed by mountains and flat desert, but jumping in skydivers can see all the way to the ocean. Bring your passport in case you drift into Mexico.

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