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Spend An Afternoon Touring "San Diego's Hawaiian Isle" Shelter Island

Jonesing for a little tropical-Pacific escapism, but don’t have the time or money for a Hawaiian or Tahitian vacation? Give Shelter Island a try!

For decades, this landmark of San Diego Bay has been called “San Diego’s Hawaiian Isle,” purposely designed to invoke Polynesia and our port city’s close links to the greatest ocean basin on Earth.

Paradise in the Bay

From the plentiful palm trees to the Polynesian-themed architecture (required by zoning), Shelter Island gives San Diego Bay an idyllic gateway to incoming mariners—and a delightful mini-getaway for San Diegans and out-of-towners alike!

The island’s actually an artificial peninsula constructed during dredging of the bay in the 1950s and set atop a natural sandbar of the San Diego River.

Shelter Island Landmarks

Besides the Hawaii-flavored ambience—which also richly suggests the tiki craze of the ‘50s and ‘60s—you’ve got one of the most extensive collections of outdoor public art in all San Diego to entice you. In Shelter Island’s Pacific Rim Park, for instance, James Hubbell’s “Pacific Portal,” “Pacific Spirit,” and “Pearl of the Pacific” installations celebrate the kinship between the American West Coast and the countries fronting the other side of the ocean. A nearby pagoda, meanwhile, frames the Yokohama Friendship Bell, a gift bequeathed to the city in 1958 by that Japanese city.

Also on display is Franco Vianello’s Tunaman’s Memorial, which stirringly memorializes San Diego’s historic multiethnic tuna fleet. (Vianello was himself a fisherman.)

There are also plenty of fun places to relax and enjoy a bayside meal on Shelter Island, from Bali Hai Restaurant to the Fathom Bistro. From spring through fall, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay (which we wrote about back in April) hosts regular live entertainment on Shelter Island by musicians, comedians, and other performers.

Sofia to San Diego’s Hawaiian Isle

It’s a short and easy trip out to Shelter Island from the Sofia Hotel, hugging the scenic north end of San Diego Bay. Come stay with us downtown and take a day trip or two out to our own local version of Hawaii!