On the shores of Mission Bay in Pacific Beach, the Polynesian-themed Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa has the feel of a tropical getaway, from the island-style architecture and lush landscaping to the long stretch of white sand along the bayfront that’s dotted with beach chairs and umbrellas. On the other side of the resort is the actual beach. The hotel caters to just about every type of traveler. Want to get a massage and doze in the sun? No problem. Prefer to cruise around Mission Bay on a jet ski? You can do that too. The Catamaran also hosts luaus and a classic 74-foot sternwheeler, the Bahia Belle, provides complimentary family-hour and cocktail cruises on the bay for guests.
Inspired by Polynesian colonial architecture, the hotel’s guestrooms feature warm wood furniture, crisp white bedding, cerulean accents that nod to the sparkling waters beyond the resort. Rooms have a balcony or patio, and views include Mission Bay, the Pacific Beach neighborhood and coastline, and the hotel’s lush tropical gardens; tower rooms offer the best panoramic view of the area.
Bathrooms are fairly basic, with a decent-size counter and shower-tub combo. Tropical patterned wallpaper adds personality.
Talk about Instagram-worthy. The lobby at the Catamaran Resort, which features a Polynesian roof with exposed wood trusses, is filled with live tropical greenery, a cascading waterfall, and serene koi ponds. Be on the lookout for exotic birds throughout the property; the resort puts on shows for guests with its beautiful species.
The hotel’s lush gardens feature 1,000 types of trees and plants.
The Catamaran’s large pool is surrounded by ample seating.
The Catamaran Spa offers a long list of treatments, including massages, body treatments, and facials, many South Pacific and Asian-inspired, like Lomi Lomi massages, ginger-root detox wraps, and Tahitian body scrubs. The zen-like spa has an outdoor whirlpool that overlooks Mission Bay.
Hitting the gym on vacation goes down a lot easier when the bright and airy fitness center looks out on Mission Bay; it even has outdoor equipment on the patio and yoga classes on the lawn. There are tons of activities that guests can book, including kayaking and wakeboarding. There are also jogging and bike paths, or surfing at nearby Pacific Beach.
The bayfront Oceana Coastal Kitchen features a cold bar with fresh sushi, and a menu of small bites and entrees with an emphasis on fresh seafood from the coast of Baja and the Pacific.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The restaurant adds a 3% surcharge to all items to “cover increasing costs.”
A saltwater aquarium teeming with exotic fish is the focal point of Moray’s Lounge, a casual tropical bar offering a signature Moray’s Mai Tai. Palm trees and tiki torches line the bar’s outdoor seating areas.
If you’re planning to do a lot of exploring beyond Pacific Beach, getting around is most convenient by car. It’s an easy drive from the Catamaran to Interstate 5, which runs north-south and offers easy access to San Diego’s attractions, including the Gaslamp Quarter to the south and coastal communities to the north.
Pacific Beach, aka “PB,” has lots of dining options in walking distance of the Catamaran, especially of the more casual variety. To start your day right, swing by Woody’s Breakfast and Burger (4-minute walk), a popular beachfront eatery with light and hearty offerings. Also on the beach, Amplified Ale Works + Beer Garden (2-minute walk) serves up tasty pub food like skewers and kabobs and a selection of beers on draft that’ll please all but the most serious beer snobs.
The further you venture from the resorts, the more Pacific Beach becomes a college-age party town. There’s no shortage of boisterous nightlife options on the PB strip, but also a few options without the crush of woo girls and stumbling bros. Featuring three pool tables and stiff drinks, the Silver Fox (5-minute drive) is hands down one of San Diego’s best dive bars. Barrel Republic (5-minute drive) is a beer lover’s nirvana. Select your beer from a computerized menu and pour as much -- or as little -- as you want of each beer you try. A special bracelet keeps track of exactly what you imbibe.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Polynesian-themed Catamaran Resort feels like a tropical oasis, with lush gardens, a long strip of sand on the bay, and fun activities for the entire family, including water sports and a relaxing spa. The hotel, which is a block from the Pacific Ocean, is a 15-minute drive from many San Diego attractions.