The scoop on San Diego County’s launch ramps (updated)


Story updated Friday, May 8 at 1:30 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — We ran around San Diego County checking for open saltwater launch ramps so you wouldn’t have to. Some but not all reopened on May 1, 2020, for recreational boating.

Here’s what we found. As usual during the COVID-19 era, regulation changes could come down the pike any time. WON will update this post with new info as soon as we are aware of it.

San Diego Bay


Shelter Island

California’s busiest saltwater launch ramp at Shelter Island is open with special Coronavirus guidelines. When WON visited a couple of nice ladies from the Outboard Boating Club were monitoring the ramp for the San Diego Port District just as members of the club have for many decades. The ladies didn’t want to be identified, but said the rules are as follows:

No more than four boats on the launch ramp at any time.

Maintain social distancing at all times. All people on a boat must be from the same household.

Leave an open parking space between your rig and the next. In other words, the parking lot is at half-capacity. Trailer parking only!

The ramp is open 24/7.

Kayakers are welcome to drop or pick-up their ‘yaks at the ramp, but must park on Shelter Island Drive unless they’re pulling a trailer.

Pepper Park, National City

We found a community service officer monitoring the entrance to Pepper Park. Only vehicles with boat trailers or carrying kayaks may access the park and its launch ramp. There’s limited trailer parking at the ramp. After unloading, kayakers must park their vehicles on Marina Way outside the park and walk back in. Take caution, this ramp is notoriously slippery at low tide.

This ramp usually operates limited hours. The park website, which could be wrong or could be right, indicates the hours are 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Glorietta Bay, Coronado

This small launch ramp is off Silver Strand Parkway / Strand Way. Based on a drive-by (no parking was available), it is open. There’s room for only 18 rigs to park on the apron. Street parking along Silver Strand Parkway is signed “No trailer parking.” Kayakers, however, would have to park on the street. No one was monitoring the ramp when we passed by Friday, May 1.

Chula Vista

The Port of San Diego announced the reopening of the Chula Vista launch ramp off J St. on Friday, May 8. Per a Facebook post, it’s trailer parking only here. Kayakers can drop a ‘yak at the ramp but must park on the street, and those spots are very limited unless you relish a quarter-mile hike. WON will run down here ASAP to check out the rules.

Mission Bay

South Shores

South Shores off Sea World Drive is the only Mission Bay launch ramp open as of May 1. When we visited, there was a police checkpoint at the turnoff onto South Shores Parkway and a bunch of road closed signs with a couple of gaps for vehicles to pass through.

The entrance to the South Shores launch ramp complete with checkpoint. BILL SCHAEFER PHOTO

If you are towing a trailer, proceed. If not, there’s a great chance you’ll be turned around and sent packing. We didn’t have a trailer with us at the time so we weren’t able to access the ramp, but it figures that as long as the police checkpoint is operating, the riff-raff that trouble this ramp will be somewhere else.

WON contributor Bill Schaefer visited the ramp and shared that three-quarters of the trailer lot at South Shores is blocked via caution tape, and like at Shelter Island parking is in every other space.

Blocked off trailer parking spots at the South Shores launch ramp, Mission Bay, San Diego. BILL SCHAEFER PHOTO

Trucks and cars toting kayaks are advised to drive over to the street parking on Quivira Way next to Dana Landing Market. From there, you can wheel or carry your ‘yak 150 or so yards to the water. The Dana Landing ramp is closed to motorized traffic.

Dana Landing

Per multiple reports, the public launch ramp at Dana Landing reopened Monday, May 4. There was no word on any special restrictions, although social distancing is no doubt in effect.

Closed ramps: De Anza (maybe), Santa Clara Point. All Mission Bay park areas and their parking lots as well as Fiesta Island were closed when we drove by on May 1. 

Oceanside Harbor

The Oceanside Harbor ramp reopened on May 1. WON staffer Mike Stevens drove by Sunday morning, May 3, and found about half the launch lanes blocked off for social distancing. Trailer parking appeared as per usual.

The parking at the Oceanside Harbor launch ramp looked like it was operating normally. MIKE STEVENS PHOTO
About half the launch lanes are blocked for social distancing at the Oceanside Harbor launch ramp. MIKE STEVENS PHOTO