Coronado Island is a picturesque resort city popular for San Diego vacations and locals looking for a day trip. It’s primarily known for its stunning beaches, charming small-town feel, and historic Hotel del Coronado.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably booked into a Coronado hotel and wondering how to get there from the airport or train station. Let’s get right to it.

Getting to Coronado from San Diego International Airport

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is located smack in downtown, which is both unusual for a big city but very convenient. If you’re sitting on the plane’s left side (seats A, B, C, usually), you’ll see Coronado Island as you land.

The distance between Coronado and the airport is about 10 miles, and the drive should take 15-20 minutes, depending on how many traffic lights you hit. You will get there by crossing the scenic Coronado Bridge (CA-75).

Once you’ve landed in San Diego, there are several ways to reach Coronado:

  • Black Car Services: Hotel del Coronado and similar resorts use La Costa Limousine, which I like and recommend. Depending on the type of car, this will cost between $125 and $200 each way. Many services also charge an extra $50 for meet-and-greet service, where someone meets you at baggage claim. Because of where I live, I mostly use La Jolla Star Transportation which you can also try.
  • Car Rentals: If you prefer to self-drive, car rental services are available at the airport but at an offsite SAN Rental Car Center. Free shuttles from the airport terminal will take you there.
  • Taxis and Rideshares: Taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available at the airport. Signage will direct you to the airport’s Transportation Island, where you’ll meet your ride. However, Uber Black and other black car services can pick you up at the curb near baggage claim.
  • Public Transportation: The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) provides bus services from the airport. You’d walk to the bus stop at North Harbor Drive and Liberator Way to catch bus 994. At the Broadway and 3rd Avenue stop, transfer to bus 901, which goes directly to Coronado. Use the MTS Trip Planner to double-check routes and times on the day you must travel. It will take over an hour on the bus.

You could also take bus 994 to the N Harbor Dr & 1140 stop. Walk to Broadway Pier and take the Coronado Ferry over.

How to Drive to Coronado Island

Driving to Coronado is straightforward, but if you pass through the downtown San Diego area during rush hour, be prepared for a little traffic. It’s best to use your GPS, but here are some quick directions.

From Los Angeles or the North: Take the I-5 South towards San Diego. After entering the city, follow the signs to the Coronado Bridge (CA-75). The bridge offers a panoramic view of the bay and leads directly into Coronado.

From the East: If you’re coming from the east, take I-8 West until it merges with I-5 South. Follow the signs to the Coronado Bridge (CA-75).

After you cross the bridge, you can continue on Third Avenue and make a left on Orange Avenue if you’re going to Hotel del Coronado and other places in that direction. Depending on traffic, your GPS may take you through some residential shortcuts, where you’ll need to drive slowly (you’ll want to look at all the pretty homes anyway).

From the South through Imperial Beach: Head north on CA-75 (Silver Strand Boulevard). This road runs along the narrow strip of land known as the Silver Strand, which connects Coronado to the mainland. The drive is particularly beautiful, with views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The drive from Imperial Beach to Coronado typically takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on traffic.

Coronado Island Parking Tips

  • STREET PARKING: It’s hard to find during peak season and weekends. Parking along Orange Avenue usually has a two-hour limit and is free (they removed the parking meters a few years ago). There’s no timed parking on Ocean Avenue near the main Coronado Beach, but finding a space there is TOUGH.
  • PAID LOTS: When all else fails, use a paid parking lot. But even these can fill up. Many are app-based nowadays. Parkopedia has a good list of options.
  • HOTEL DEL CORONADO: Many people ask if it’s possible to avoid paying for parking at The Del. Parking is currently $55/night for self-parking and $75/night for valet parking. I tell people to plan to pay because finding overnight street parking is extremely difficult. For day use, it’s $25 for the first 2 hours; $10 each additional hour. If you shop or dine there you can get a $10 off validation.

Coronado Ferry Routes and Locations

The Coronado Ferry is a way to sightsee on the San Diego Bay.
Coronado Ferry (photo courtesy of Flagship Cruises & Events)

The ferry has been running since 1886 and has two main routes to Coronado.

  • Broadway Pier to Coronado Ferry Landing: This route is convenient for those staying at InterContinental or Little Italy hotels. These ferries leave on the hour.
  • San Diego Convention Center to Coronado Ferry Landing: The second route is more convenient for Convention Center attendees and those wanting to explore the Gaslamp area. These ferries leave on the half-hour.

The Ferry Experience

  • The ferry ride takes 15-20 minutes, offering a relaxing and picturesque journey across the bay.
  • The ferries have both indoor seating and outdoor viewing areas.
  • You can take your bike for free.
  • Pets are not allowed but service animals are.
  • Tickets are $8 each way, with kids 4 and under free. We sell tickets in partnership with Flagship, the ferry’s operator.

Getting From the Ferry Landing to Central Coronado

Once you arrive at the Coronado Ferry Landing, you have a few choices for getting around.

  • Walking: Coronado is a pedestrian-friendly community with nice sidewalks. The island is about a mile wide and it will take you about an hour to walk from here to Hotel del Coronado (but there are loads of places to stop and things to do along the way).
  • Public Transportation: MTS bus 904 runs through Coronado, connecting the Ferry Landing to other parts of the island.
  • Taxis and Rideshares: These services are readily available for a more direct route to your destination.
  • Seasonal Free Summer Shuttle: In 2024, this will run between July 1 and September 2 at 15-minute intervals between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. along bus route 904.

Bus Service on Coronado Island

Public transportation is an economical and environmentally friendly way to travel to Coronado. Sure, it takes longer but a bus pass here is $6 per day or $2.50 per ride. It’s a crazy good deal.

As already mentioned, MTS operates several bus routes connecting San Diego to Coronado. Bus 901 travels from Downtown San Diego to Coronado, offering a direct and convenient option. You’ll transition to bus 904 which covers the rest of Coronado.

Arriving by Train from Los Angeles, Orange County & Beyond

Exterior shot of Santa Fe Depot's Mission Revival style bell tower and exterior set against modern buildings.

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner ends in San Diego at the Santa Fe Depot train station in Downtown San Diego, not to far from the cruise terminal and airport. The Coaster commuter train also ends at Santa Fe Depot. From here, you can take an MTS bus or a taxi/rideshare to Coronado.

From Santa Fe Depot to Coronado

  • MTS Bus/Trolley: You can actually get to bus 901’s 12th and Imperial Transit Center Stop from Santa Fe Depot via the green or blue MTS Trolley line. It depends on your time and day, so use the MTS Trip Planner to figure it out.
  • Taxi/Rideshare: Taxis and rideshare services are available outside the station.
  • Coronado Ferry: You can walk across the street to the Broadway Pier to catch the ferry.
  • Black Car Service: Same recommendations as the airport apply.

And Finally, Believe It or Not, Some People Bicycle In!

Cycling is a popular and enjoyable way for serious bikers to get to Coronado from the south.

  • The Bayshore Bikeway: This bikeway is a 24-mile loop around San Diego Bay, with a portion running through the Silver Strand. It’s a flat and well-maintained path.
  • Bike Rentals: If you don’t have a bike, rental options are available in Imperial Beach and Coronado. (This route would be a little hard to do on a regular beach cruiser because it is long).

The Botton Line…

It’s really easy to get to Coronado Island. You just have to decide which method you prefer.

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).

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