Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is my top pick for families looking to stay in Pacific Beach, a popular but eclectic San Diego beach neighborhood.

The three-star resort is located on the Sail Bay part of Mission Bay, the largest human-made aquatic park in the country and San Diego’s hottest water sports hub. Families like the calm bay beaches here and also that you can walk across Mission Boulevard from the resort and down a few very short blocks to reach the sands of the Pacific Ocean. Yes, the resort gives you access to two different beach types!

Add exclusive complimentary access to Bahia Belle stern-wheeler cruises, seasonal luaus, bike rentals, a game room, cozy fire pits, and a swimming pool, and you have the makings of a casual family beach vacation. This resort is not too far from my house so we visit the resort recreationally. In this review, I dive into deep detail regarding what to expect and give you the best way to book.

Note from Katie: We independently choose all featured hotels. Booking methods mentioned are popular with our readers or ones we think offer the best value. If you book through select links, we may earn a commission and appreciate you supporting our business. Prices and amenities are subject to change. Our editorial guidelines.

Catamaran Resort Reservations

Check with the resort directly for special promotions, bundle discounted theme park tickets with your hotel stay, or use your favorite online travel agency.

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in Pacific Beach, San Diego
location icon

3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109


  • Family-friendly resort with the most activities on Mission Bay
  • Bay and ocean beach access and views
  • Easy access to the sand from ground level Bay Front Suites and Bay Front Rooms
  • Water sports rentals
  • Bahia Belle stern-wheeler cruises
  • Beachside confires
  • Casual 1950s Polynesian vibe
  • Great full-service spa
  • Oceana restaurant shared plates and outdoor seating
  • Reasonable pricing for beach access and amenities
  • The resident animals (ducks, turtles, birds)


  • Not for luxury travelers
  • The pool can be busy as residents buy memberships to the facilities
  • Some guests prefer Mission Bay Sports Center for water sports (less expensive)
  • Refreshed rooms can appear dated
  • Bay Front upper rooms/suites of the Tower offer the best bay views and the most privacy
  • Arcade is only complimentary from mid-June through the end of August
  • Pacific Beach has a beach and bar scene that is popular with college students and young professionals

Which Catamaran Resort Rooms, Suites, and Studios to Choose

View from the bay to the multi-story Tower building set behind the Bay Front Rooms and Suites.
The Tower building behind the Bay Front Rooms and Suites.

The 310 guest rooms, suites, and studios at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa are situated on a Polynesian-style resort lush with tropical plants, koi ponds, palm trees, manicured lawns, and exotic birds. The Catamaran uses this paradisal ambience to its advantage by providing every accommodation with large sliding glass doors that access either a private patio or balcony.

All accommodations have flat-screen TVs with satellite DirecTV, iHome docking stations, complimentary Wi-Fi, Keurig coffee makers, laptop room safes, irons and ironing boards, full-size tubs with showers, hotel spa products, hairdryers, waffle weave bathrobes, and 24-hour room service. A common guest report is that the rooms are dated despite having new touches recently added. I would remind you that you’re also paying for a great location with access to two beaches.

Understand the View Choices

Your room or suite will have a bay view (Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean to the south), a garden view (resort grounds), or a city view (Pacific Beach and the Pacific Ocean to the north).

There are ten types of accommodations at Catamaran Resort — Bay Front Rooms, Bay Front Suites, Garden View Rooms, Garden View Suites, Bay View Suites, Studios, Tower Rooms, Resort Rooms, Poolside Rooms, and Accessible Rooms.

Bay Front Suites (MY Top Pick for the entire resort)

Living room of a Bay Front Suite illustrating that you can walk directly out from your room to the bay beach.
Direct walk-out access to the bay beach!

Bay Front Suites are spacious at 438 square feet. They’re located in the long, two-story building between the Tower and Sail Bay. The only thing separating your suite from the bay’s sandy shoreline is the grassy area outside your back door.

The separate bedroom includes your choice of king or two queen beds. A separate living room has a pull-out sofa bed. There is also a second TV, mini-fridge, wet bar, and dining area. The lighted vanity with sink is outside the bathroom. I recommend people book these suites if budget permits. The Bay Front Rooms below are

Bay Front Rooms (My Top Pick for Rooms)

Bay Front room showing direct walk-out access to the chairs and umbrellas on the beach.
These rooms sell out quickly.

Bay Front rooms and suites are the resort’s signature accommodations. At 382 square feet, you’ll find these rooms in the two-story building next to the two-story suites building facing Sail Bay and the boardwalk.

The only thing separating you from the sandy bay shoreline is a grassy area. Choose from either a king bed or two queen beds. These rooms also have a lighted vanity with a sink outside the bathroom, a mini-fridge, and a small dining area. These are my favorite rooms on the resort.

Tip: Book Bay Front EARLY

Bayfront rooms and suites sell out because they’re popular. If you think you may want to stay here but maybe aren’t certain, and you see one of these rooms or suites available, I would book it since many of their rates offer free cancelation. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Garden view Rooms

Interior view of a double queen Garden View room out to a grassy area.

Garden View Rooms are situated throughout the resort and overlook lush gardens with over 1,000 different kinds of tropical trees and plants, plus koi ponds and exotic wildlife.

Some Garden View Rooms overlook the pool, so depending on whether it’s the quiet of a garden setting or easy access to the pool that you prefer, you’ll want to let your preference be known at booking.

At 485 square feet, Garden View Rooms are bigger than Bay Front rooms. You can choose either a king or two queen beds. Expect a mini-fridge, lighted vanity with a sink outside the bathroom, and a small dining area.

Tip: Ask for a Pond View Room

Some Garden Rooms overlook the ponds. Kids will like watching the ducks, turtles, and koi swim around.

Garden View Suites

View from the bedroom to the living room in a Garden View Suite.

The 604-square-foot Garden View Suites are great for families who need extra space. A bedroom separates from the living room with a pull-out sofa. There is also a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator, stove, oven, toaster, and microwave.

Tower Rooms

Tower rooms, located in the resort’s central Tower, are the smallest accommodations at the resort, with 309 square feet. These rooms only come with a king bed.

Depending on floor location, Tower rooms open onto the gardens or overlook them on lower floors. Higher floors provide dazzling views of Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean if the room is south-facing.

View from Tower at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego
South facing Tower Room

North-facing rooms have inspiring views of the Pacific coastline to La Jolla. These rooms don’t have vanities outside the bathroom or mini-fridges. However, you can request a mini-fridge for your stay. You can also request a microwave.

Studios (Bay, Garden, or City Views)

City View Studio view from the room over Pacific Beach to the ocean.
City View Studio that is north-facing

Studios at Catamaran Resort are located in the Tower and provide around 430 square feet of space. North-facing studios offer views of the Pacific coastline to La Jolla, and south-facing views include Mission Bay, the San Diego skyline, and the Pacific Ocean.

Studios have two queen beds, en suite with a single sink, lighted vanity outside the bathroom, small dining area, and a balcony. A kitchenette includes a microwave, a mini refrigerator, a wet bar, and a toaster oven. Upgraded high-speed wireless internet is complimentary. Some studios also have a pull-out sofa bed.

Bay View Suites

Bay View Suite showing the separate bedroom, four-person table, balcony and bay view.
Separate bedroom and living area.

Bay View Suites are located in the Catamaran’s resort Tower. These are the resort’s largest accommodations at 604 square feet, offering stunning views of Mission Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the San Diego skyline. Suites have a separate bedroom with a king bed, TV, en suite with single sink, walk-in closet, and balcony access.

The separate living area has a full-size sofa bed, comfortable chair with ottoman, second TV with a gaming station, breakfast bar, dining area, and balcony access. There is also a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator, toaster oven, and microwave, plus cookware and dishes for four. These suites come with upgraded high-speed Wi-Fi.

poolside rooms

You can choose from one king or two queen beds for these 329 sq ft rooms. The Poolside Rooms recently underwent an upgrade and feature picturesque views of the pool and surrounding lush landscape. Each room has a patio or a balcony and feature the same features as the Bay Front rooms (which are slightly bigger), plus a microwave upon request.

resort rooms

The Resort Rooms are located at various locations throughout the hotel and cover 329 square feet. You can choose from one king or two queen beds and each room contains a dining area, a mini-refrigerator,  a full-size tub with shower, and a game table and chairs. Every room also has a patio or balcony. 

Accessible Rooms

Accessible accommodations come in two styles at Catamaran — Garden View Rooms and Bay View Studios. You can expect the same room and suite amenities, plus special accessible amenities.

These rooms have lowered bed height for two queen beds, under-bed space for a Hoyer Lift, modified closet, roll-in shower, shower chair, accessible bathroom vanity, hand-held adjustable height shower wand, and a transfer bench if requested. Lever-style door handles, remote control automatic door entry (Bay View Studio), accessible temperature controls, light switches, and power outlets, closed caption TV, and visual notification for both door and phone are included.

Tip: When You Need Connecting Rooms

There are very few adjoining rooms at Catamaran Resort & Spa, but they do exist. Adjoining rooms can only be reserved by calling the hotel directly.

Dining at Catamaran Resort & Spa

Guests have three dining options at Catamaran Resort & Spa — the modern Oceana Coastal Kitchen, which is their signature restaurant, Moray’s bar with a tropical patio, and Lava Java grab-and-go cafe. Oasis Snack Shack on the beach, and Pool Bar & Grill are open seasonally.

Oceana Coastal Kitchen

Oceana Coastal Kitchen Catamaran Resort San Diego

The décor of the Oceana Coastal Kitchen reflects a whimsical marine vibe, with an expansive al fresco dining area that overlooks Mission Bay. Semi-private dining for 16, and private dining for 10 are available. The restaurant now features a new heated and covered patio perfect for a beachfront dining experience. I meet my friends here for dinner and happy hour sometimes. The food is very good and it’s not usually loud or crowded.

Guests should expect classic California cuisine with a modern edge, made from local and sustainable ingredients. There is a 25-foot-long cold bar where you can take a seat and watch your selection being prepared. From fresh coastal seafood to savory plates to handcrafted sushi, every menu choice is a good one.

The restaurant recently added ‘Wild Wednesdays’ to its schedule, where guests can feast on a four-course tasting menu by Executive Chef Paul Arias. This weekly special event begins at 5:30 p.m. and showcases fresh-caught seafood and local produce from the Pacific Beach Farmers’ Market. You can choose to add wine pairing for $30.

Oceana Coastal Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, you can enjoy live music during dinner. Sunday Champagne brunches with bottomless mimosas are legendary, and a neighborhood favorite. There is complimentary valet parking for restaurant guests.


Moray's Bar at Catamaran Resort San Diego

This casual Polynesian-style bar offers guests craft, domestic, and imported beers, wines, and signature and barrel-aged-cocktails. Hungry? The bar also serves appetizers, flatbreads, sushi, cold bar selections, and small plates.

Indoors, the atmosphere at Moray’s is laid-back with a giant saltwater aquarium behind the bar, and multiple TVs tuned to the latest sporting events. Outdoors, a lush tropical patio with comfortable seating, fire pit tables, and tiki torches make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation especially when indulging in a signature Moray Mai Tai. There’s live music on Wednesdays and Thursdays on the pet-friendly patio.

Lava Java

Lava Java is a tiki-themed grab-and-go cafe situated in the Catamaran Resort lobby. You’ll find locally roasted Ryan Bros. coffee, specialty teas, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, and baked items.

Oasis Snack Shack — Seasonal

Oasis Snack Shack is located on Sail Bay’s sandy beach next to the resort dock. It offers beverages, snacks, and Dippin’ Dots ice cream with walk-up service. You can also rent beach toys and beach games here.

Pool Bar & Grill — Seasonal

Pool Bar & Grill, situated poolside, is open in the spring and summer. You can enjoy barbecue favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, cocktails, and other beverages. Live Polynesian music often plays on weekends.

Special Event Dining

Catamaran Resort hosts special event dining throughout the year like their Thanksgiving Harvest Buffet and a Christmas Champagne Brunch. Check the website before your arrival for upcoming special dining events.

Amenities at Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Catamaran Resort Hotel San Diego exterior

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa has tons of family-friendly amenities for their guests. From the Arcade to Catamaran Spa to Bahia Belle, the list is long.

Beach Day

Catamaran Resort is located just steps from the sandy shores of Mission Bay. You can lounge in beach chairs shaded by large umbrellas, or find your place on the sand for a leisurely beach day. There’s a net for beach volleyball. Seasonally, numerous beach toys can be rented at Oasis Snack Shack where you can also find tasty snacks and beverages. Chair-side food and beverage service is also available seasonally.

Pool Play

Catamaran Resort Hotel pool in San Diego

The large, resort-style outdoor pool at Catamaran is nestled in a lush tropical setting. Open year-round, the heated pool and nearby hot tub provide hours of family entertainment. Numerous lounge chairs are scattered about the tiered patio surrounding the pool where guests can relax in sun or shade.

Catamaran Fitness Center

The Catamaran Spa Fitness Center features both cardio and strength training equipment. Cardio machines have personal 15-inch TV monitors with complimentary headsets. Some cardio machines are located on an open-air patio. Whether you exercise indoors or out, you have great bay views.

Catamaran Spa

Catamaran Spa in Pacific Beach, San Diego

The waterfront location of the Catamaran Spa sets up a one-of-a-kind experience. Spa treatments, inspired by Asian and South Pacific healing traditions, use botanical- and marine-based products. Guests can indulge in a complete menu of services, from massages to facials to body wraps.

The private outdoor whirlpool provides beautiful Mission Bay views. Seasonally, guests can join open-air yoga sessions on select mornings.

Relaxation room at Catamaran Spa in San Diego

Sunset Luaus (SUmmer)

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa offers guests a unique experience with their Sunset Luaus on Tuesdays and Fridays during the summer months. These authentic Polynesian luaus feature an all-you-can-eat buffet, including delicious Hawaiian favorites like slow-cooked kalua pig.

Luau at Catamaran Resort San Diego

Guests enjoy traditional music while dining, followed by a Polynesian show performed by San Diego’s Pride of Polynesia. The show features music, dancing, and drumming choreographed to tell the story of the Polynesian people. Luaus take place bayside on the grassy area. Upon arrival, you receive a lei and mai tai.

Bird Shows

Bird Show at Catamaran Resort Hotel

Meet the resident parrots, from cockatoos to colorful macaws, during the hotel’s fun and informative Bird Encounter shows. Handlers give fun and educational outdoor bird shows where the parrots demonstrate their antics and language abilities in a casual, playful setting. Between shows, guests can marvel at the parrots and learn about their characteristics from a set of posted storyboards.

Tropical Gardens & Koi Ponds

The Polynesian-themed Catamaran Resort is crisscrossed with winding walkways, so you can explore the full depth of this tropical paradise. You’ll discover over 100 varieties of palm trees, 1,000 kinds of exotic plants, bamboo, Balinese handcrafted totem poles, tiki torches, waterfalls, koi ponds, colorful parrots, and other wildlife.


Catamaran Arcade is located next to the resort’s pool. The kid-centric arcade is equipped with a billiards table, air hockey, arcade-style video games, and driving simulators.

beach bonfires

You can enjoy sunset while roasting s’mores ion the lawn overlooking the bay when you book a private bonfire the hotel’s partner, Bayside Bonfires. Seating for up to 10 guests is available and you’ll receive chairs, firewood and the s’mores supplies. Fire pits can be reserved nightly and a blanket is recommended as you snuggle up under the stars.

champagne brunch

Sip on Champagne and mimosas while feasting on buffet choices including a seafood bar at the Catamaran’s sumptuous Sunday brunches. Entrees options range from Honey Fried Chicken and Waffle to Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna to Prime Rib. A seasonal dessert selection tops off this popular and special way to spend a Sunday.

Bahia Belle

Bahia Belle is a Mississippi-style stern-wheeler that cruises Mission Bay between Catamaran Resort Hotel and Bahia Resort Hotel, the Catamaran’s sister property. The three-story stern-wheeler has an observation deck for panoramic views of Mission Bay and the surrounding area. Cruises leave the Catamaran hotel at 6:30 p.m. and return at 7:45 p.m. Check their website closer to your visit as the cruises are not always offered in December and times are subject to change.

Water Sport Rentals

Water sports at Catamaran Resort San Diego

Action Sport Rentals is anchored at Catamaran Resort, offering hotel guests lessons and rentals of water sports equipment year-round. You can learn surfing, kayaking, wakeboarding, sailing, and stand-up paddle boarding. In addition to water sports rentals, you can also rent a Segway or bicycle here.

Pacific Beach Neighborhood

Pacific Beach San Diego neighborhood

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa is at the intersection of two classic San Diego neighborhoods — Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. You can walk or grab a resort bike rental, and head across Mission Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean, where it’s an entirely different vacation experience.

Ocean Front Walk is a long boardwalk that stretches the distance between the two communities and runs parallel to the beach. You’ll discover Crystal Pier to the north and Belmont Park — a 125-year-old amusement park to the south, plus tons of shops, bars, and cafés.

Head back across Mission Boulevard to the Catamaran and follow the boardwalk there that encircles Sail Bay for a quieter experience. It’s a great location for those looking for a casual beach getaway. Quite a few of the nearby Pacific Beach restaurants are inexpensive as well. Across Mission Bay from the Catamaran is SeaWorld San Diego. It’s a short drive to the famous water park.

There are actually quite a few good places to eat in Pacific Beach ranging from fish tacos and cheap eats to high-end seafood.

About Pacific Beach…

The neighborhood is popular with college students and young professionals due to the bar scene and eclectic shops. You are insulated from this when at the resort. But this is the vibe along the nearby beach boardwalk and Garnet Avenue.

It takes about 20 minutes by car to reach San Diego International Airport, San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park from the resort. There is no airport shuttle, but it’s very easy to take Uber or a taxi from the airport.

Who Stays at Catamaran Resort & Why

We talk to people about San Diego hotels daily, so know who chooses the Catamaran for their vacations and why. These are the most common reasons (value being a big one) and travel styles that we find the resort suits the most.

  • People who want a resort near an ocean beach and the La Jolla beachfront hotels or Coronado Island hotels are pricing out of their budget.
  • Families with toddlers who prefer the waveless bay beach.
  • Families who need to be in or prefer the Pacific Beach / Mission Beach area.
  • People who want to be within walking distance of bars, restaurants, and shops.
  • Travelers who prefer a super casual resort environment.
  • Water sports enthusiasts who like easy access to bay activities while also being a short walk from the ocean.
  • People who prefer direct resort access rooms, meaning they dislike walking through long hallways and want to exit their room onto the resort (ground-floor Bay Front rooms and suites). Or, they want to be able to open a door to let the kids tumble on a grassy area or play outside within eyesight.

How to Make Reservations

Many people save by bundling stays at the Catamaran with theme park tickets. However, also check the Catamaran’s website where you may see AAA, AARP, military, and returning guest discounts.

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
3999 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

More Hotels in Pacific Beach

Photos are courtesy of Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

More San Diego Hotels

Explore More in Pacific Beach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.