Planning a trip to San Diego in the summertime gives travelers the ideal weather for enjoying its gorgeous beaches. This also happens to be the best time to view San Diego from above. After living in Southern California for almost ten years, it’s hard to believe that I’ve never taken a helicopter or small plane tour over the San Diego coastline.

As I rolled out of bed that Wednesday morning in July, I could already tell it would be a gorgeous day — perfect for flying. The sun was shining and the water looked crystal clear. My Viator tour was booked for the afternoon at Montgomery Field, where many of the small planes take off in San Diego.

I was greeted by Bonnie and soon after, my pilot (Peter) arrived. I loaded into the tiny plane, Peter climbed in the back seat (the pilot flies from the back!), and we were ready to take off!

Now, I’m not a nervous flyer, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about flying in an open-cockpit biplane. To my surprise, as soon our wheels lifted off the ground, I almost forgot I was flying. It was a surprisingly smooth ride and since it was the middle of the day, I was completely shaded by the wings above me. The warm summer air kissed my face as the wind blew fiercely around me. With not much between me and the ground below, I could almost taste the ocean air as we reached the coast.  

I recognized Scripps Pier — one of my favorite spots to photograph from the ground — as we made our way north. I marveled at the view of scattered surfers and the dark reef below. To my left, a couple of paddle boarders sunned themselves just a few feet past the break. The sunlight reflected off their boards as they paddled along the kelp beds.

Peter knew I was looking for the most photogenic spots along the coast, so once we passed Blacks Beach and the Glider Port, he circled around and headed south, towards La Jolla. Flocks of beachgoers swarmed the sand and shallow areas at La Jolla Shores beach. Colorful umbrellas, red and yellow kayaks, and black rocks contrasted with the deep blue hues of the ocean, creating quite a sight. 

Our small plane hugged the coastline, giving us a glimpse of La Jolla Cove where groups of kayakers gathered near the caves below. I’ve always known La Jolla was photogenic, but today it looked exceptionally gorgeous. Clusters of white water splashed around as the waves crashed up against La Jolla’s rocky coast. 

Before I knew it, thirty minutes had passed and we were on our way back to the airport. I was giddy and smiling from the inside out. I’ve taken countless tours in San Diego county, but this one was by far one of my favorite. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of flying above my favorite place in the world, I’m already planning my next aerial tour of San Diego.

Sponsored by Viator.