A roster of things to do before dying is a bucket list. When the list is comprised of entries that can actually cause death, it’s called a F#ck-It List. Before life ends, consider crossing off some of these experiences around San Diego, or just sit back and watch other adrenaline junkies kill it (and hopefully not themselves).
Swim with the fishes
Few feats in life promise a bigger rush than coming face to face with a 20-foot apex predator. Two local diving companies confirm that claim, submerging their customers (in protective steel cages) in waters swarming with white sharks near Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe, an island 250 miles southwest of San Diego. San Diego Shark Diving, billed as the oldest such tour company on the West Coast, offers five- and six-day expeditions in spacious vessels with private quarters, plenty of food and other amenities. Shark Diver also takes small groups to the island for up-close encounters with the frenzied fiends, offering, among other water-bound luxuries, unlimited beer and wine.
Take the fall
Plummet 13,000 feet through the troposphere above Skydive San Diego, which touts its industry-leading airplanes and private airport dedicated to skydiving. Departing from Brown Field Municipal Airport in Otay Mesa, Pacific Coast Skydiving takes would-be jumpers on a scenic flight above Imperial Beach and the Coronado Bridge before dropping them off mid-flight. For a North County Coastal experience, try GoJump Oceanside, which offers an unobstructed ocean view during freefall.
Skydive San Diego: 13531 Otay Lakes Rd., Jamul 619.216.8416, skydivesandiego.com; Pacific Coast Skydiving: 6810 Curran St., Otay Mesa 619.661.0194, pacificcoastskydiving.com; GoJump Oceanside: 480 Airport Rd., Oceanside 760.390.5867, gojump-oceanside.com
Hang in there
What better way to overcome acrophobia (fear of heights) than by hang gliding or paragliding above La Jolla’s coast? After launching from the cliffs at Torrey Pines Gliderport, glimpse the backyards of multimillion-dollar mansions and relish a bird’s-eye view of Black’s Beach before touching down amid the nudists below. Arrive early, as this historic aviation site doesn’t accept reservations, accepting customers on a first-come, first-fly basis.
Torrey Pines Gliderport: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, 858.452.9858, flytorrey.com
San Diego may not be known for its towering peaks, but the county does have some of the West Coast’s best bouldering. Poway’s Mount Woodson is riddled with grippable granite and is home to more than 100 routes of varying difficulty, not to mention San Diego’s iconic Potato Chip Rock. Want more of a workout? The hike up El Cajon Mountain reaches an elevation of 1,900 feet in less than two miles, and that’s before the real climbing starts. And, located a few miles southwest of Julian, Eagle Peak ranks among the region’s most popular and challenging trails thanks to its short-but-steep climb and breathtaking views of Boulder Creek gorge.
Surfers searching for a bigger thrill than the waist-high waves most local beaches offer can, on certain winter days, find titanic 10-footers forming at La Jolla Cove — but it’s tough to predict precisely when the spot will be going off. For a more reliable rush, The Wedge in Newport Beach is an iconic SoCal spot for epic surf, sometimes breaking with colossal, 30-foot crests. For the ultimate rush (and perhaps a tinge of death) Cortes Bank, located 110 miles west of Point Loma, explodes with monstrous waves reaching heights around 80 feet.
There’s no shortage of riding trails in San Diego, so hardcore pedal pushers don’t have to look far to find challenging terrain. Balboa Park (balboapark.org) is home to an approachable 4.5-mile loop with chunkier offshoots for ambitious bikers. For a more extreme adventure, Fortuna Mountain Trail in Mission Trails Park presents a difficult 6.5-mile route with breathtaking hilltop and waterfall vistas.
You’re dune for
For an intense desert adventure, saddle up on a sand toy at Glamis Sand Dunes, SoCal’s largest and most popular off-road-riding destination. Located southeast of the Salton Sea in Imperial County (about two hours east of San Diego), the expansive dune field is practically devoid of manmade structures, making it great for tearing up the khaki-colored ridges and carving a course through nearly 200 square miles of sandy land. Off-highway vehicles, including quads, jeeps and cycles, are permitted on many of the dunes here, although novices might want to hang back and catch the pop-up races that frequently form on weekends at Glamis’Competition Hill.
If sailing through the wilderness at 55 mph sounds like fun, cruise to La Jolla Zip Zoom for a ride on California’s longest zip line. Tucked away within the La Jolla Indian Reservation (in Pauma Valley, near Escondido) this zip line sends riders soaring through more than a mile of jungles and canyons shaded by a canopy of trees. For an even wilder experience, board Flightline Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for a 2/3-mile flight 130 feet above rhinos, giraffes and other curious creatures.
La Jolla Zip Zoom: 22000 Hwy. 76, Pauma Valley, 760.742.3776, lajollazipzoom.com; Flightline Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, 760.747.8702, sdzsafaripark.org
Bungee jumping is a foolproof way to awaken a new appreciation for life. Bungee America, the country’s oldest bungee jumping company, is famous for facilitating elastic leaps from San Gabriel Canyon’s historic Bridge to Nowhere (northeast of L.A.). Choose to fall facing forward or backward, or shed the full-body harness and dangle by the ankles instead. Bounding from the bridge after nightfall means saying adios before disappearing into a pitch-black abyss.
Bungee America: 310.322.8892, bungeeamerica.com
Fly like an eagle
While riding in an engineless plane can get the adrenaline pumping, it can also be a serene experience. Sky Sailing San Diego takes customers into the heavens aboard sailplanes (aka gliders) high above Warner Springs, near Anza Borrego Desert State Park. After being towed into the sky by planes with engines, these vessels harness the power of passing air currents, floating past Palomar Observatory, above Lake Henshaw and over the desert below. Enjoy an unparalleled degree of freedom while flying alongside hawks, eagles and other winged wonders native to Southern California.
Sky Sailing San Diego 31930 Hwy. 79, Warner Springs; 760.782.0404, skysailing.com
Soak it in
Conquer water and air aboard SeaQuest Water Adventures, offering unforgettable aquatic experiences in 18-foot-long, state-of-the-art, semi-submersible watercraft modeled after actual oceanic creatures. After the transparent canopy closes, prepare to hit surface-level speeds up to 55 mph and underwater velocities nearing 25 mph. The supercharged 300-horsepower Seabreacher is capable of rapid undersea acceleration, which enables it to breach the water and soar 40 feet through the air before splashing back down into North San Diego Bay.
SeaQuest Water Adventures: 955 Harbor Island Drive, Gate 4 – Dock K, Harbor Island 844.669.3483, goseaquest.com
As summer sizzles, it’s a great time to chill while daydreaming of snow piling up at Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Bear Mountain is the better bet for beginners, while Snow Summit is well suited for more accomplished enthusiasts. Armed with a pair of the most powerful snowmaking systems in the world, not to mention Mother Nature’s contribution, both areas offer enough terrain and altitude to keep boarders and skiers busy for days … but not until winter.
Big Bear Mountain Resorts: 880 Summit Blvd., Big Bear Lake 844.GO2.BEAR (844.462.2327), bigbear.com
Feel the need for speed
Watch your six! There’s a bogey on your tail! Sky Combat Ace offers the most authentic dogfight experiences civilians can enjoy safely. Get comfortable behind the controls of an actual plane while soaring through mock aerial battles under the supervision of a skilled fighter pilot. So choose a “mission” and buckle up, Ace! Participation does not require previous flight experience.
Sky Combat Ace: 2015 N. Marshall Ave., El Cajon, 888.494.5850, skycombatace.com
Get ready to ride dirty while off-roading through Anza-Borrego State Park. Featuring more than 500 miles of 4×4-ready trails, the terrain here offers everything from rocky routes to deep sand. Whether choosing a novice or advanced trail, keep an eye out for jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife, including roaming coyotes, wild horses and bighorn sheep.
Make a splash
Soar like a superhero at JetPack America, which propels its patrons above (and into) the waters of Mission Bay with water-powered jetpacks and jetboards. Fly Guys Watersports on Harbor Island offers an equally incredible experience on the Big Bay. In both locations, taking flight is said to be easier than it looks. (See how this month’s blind daters fared while trying to take flight here.)
Expert skater boys (and girls) can catch air at the Washington Street Skatepark. Located under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge at West Washington Street in Middletown, this park was built by a small group of skateboarders who raised the funds to build it through a nonprofit they formed. This skatepark lures skaters from around the world, and San Diego legends like Tony Hawk have graced its ramps. For a list of San Diego county skateparks, visit pacificsandiego.com/skate-parks.
Appreciate the art of extreme skateboarding without the risk of rolling an ankle by watching amateur skaters compete at the Sun Diego AM SLAM Presented by Vans. Giving local action-sports athletes an opportunity to make a name for themselves, the points-based AM-SLAM series began in June and ends in September, with the final event in Mission Beach being followed by a massive surf and skate festival.
760.734.3818, x2000, sundiego.com
For a dose of heart-racing spectating, check out the California State Games, a slew of amateur events including BMX racing. On Saturday, July 22, racers of all ages and classes compete for gold at the U.S. Olympic Training in Chula Vista.
California State Games Headquarters: 3260 Rosecrans St., Midway District, 619.223.2033, calstategames.org