The lush, tropical foliage, five pools, world class spa, and exclusive beaches of Paradise Point Resort & Spa conjures far-flung island paradises from the Caribbean or South Pacific.
But the verdant 44-acre island resort sits not in the ocean, but instead in San Diego’s Mission Bay, a short boat ride to Sea World and a few minutes from downtown. Paradise Point offers more than 460 guest rooms, including spacious suites, garden rooms, lanai patios, and bayside bungalows. The award-winning landscaping includes over 600 types of tropical plants.
I’ve visited Paradise Point twice in 10 years, and in the time between I began to wonder if my memories had given way to hyperbolic daydreaming. Could my stay really have been simultaneously relaxing, exciting, and rejuvenating?
By the time I arrived, I really needed it to be the latter. I’d just come from three grueling days at Legoland with my little sister. But even as I walked into the airy timber and glass lobby, I couldn’t help but wonder if one resort could soothe both my frazzled nerves and exhausted body in two short days.
Paradise Point was developed by rabbi-turned-movie-producer-turned-hotelier Jack Skirball, who was reportedly tired of building film sets only to watch them be torn down after the production wrapped. In 1962 he set about creating a permanent fantasy-island set open to vacationing families.
With its Hollywood roots, it could be easy to dismiss Paradise Point as a Disneyified, manufactured experience, but instead it offers luxe accommodations and experiences. The Spa at Paradise Point is a sanctuary where ancient rituals and modern-day San Diego influences coalesce, earning it consistent ranking as one of the top 100 U.S. resort spas by Condé Nast Traveler.
The spa’s therapists offer a wide variety of treatments, including whole-body exfoliation and a CBD facial with light therapy that promises to restore a “healthy glow” and deliver a “youthful complexion.” I admit I could have used the help getting my glow back (and I am years beyond a youthful complexion), but my muscles screamed out for the spa’s signature full body massage. Afterwards I lounged by the main pool with a frozen Pina Colada. I hadn’t felt so relaxed in more than a year.
By the morning I had recovered enough to fulfill my watersports reservation. Paradise Point offers a number of activities, including daily yoga, a state-of-the-art fitness center, sports courts, a six-mile guided bike ride, and paddleboard or kayak rentals. On my previous visit I had rented a jet ski, which had been great fun. This time I upgraded to a powerboat. I’d never captained a boat before, but the simple training provided easily prepared me for an invigorating cruise around Mission Bay.
Returning to the resort, I lunched at Barefoot Bar & Grill, where you’re serenaded with a waterfall, and can watch stingrays glide beneath the water. I recommend one of their salads (I went with the berries and greens) and the red beet hummus plate. If you want something more substantial, go with the Barefoot poke.
After a break at my amazing bungalow suite, I walked to one of the resort’s four other pools, swam, then relaxed in the jacuzzi. I had the pool area entirely to myself. Strolling on the beach that evening I was treated to a spectacular sunset and took in nature’s light show before an electric storm moved closer. It was a fitting end to a brief but memorable stay.
I left fully recovered and determined to return for a longer stay — before another decade can pass.
This piece initially ran in the Summer 2022 print issue. Out Traveler is available on newsstands.