The seemingly endless Pacific Coast is the ultimate locale for a week-long Holland America Line cruise, offering beautiful beaches, more than 300 days of sun, mild year-round temperatures, sporty pastimes and iconic cultural landmarks. Our new Pacific Coast itineraries conjure up the perfect recipe for luxury, relaxation and adventure to help you unwind and enjoy a vacation along our beautiful coastline. Read below to learn more about the phenomenal ports that you can explore with a seven-day Pacific Coast cruise Holland America Line.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco has long been America’s shining city by the sea: a beacon on the West Coast that boomed during the gold rush of 1849 and, for much of the 20th century, embodied the sunny California dream. It has always been a city of dreamers, a place that appeals both to the country’s counterculture and also, ironically, to those looking to strike it rich. Today it is the epicenter of the Internet economy, enjoying yet another period of expansion. Our Scenic San Francisco shore excursion is the best way to get a full taste of this iconic city.
One thing has remained constant throughout its colorful history — the city’s enviable location at the tip of a peninsula separating San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Around every corner and from every hilltop are views of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge, possibly the most beautiful, and certainly the most photographed bridge in the world. A short drive through the city streets brings you to Twin Peaks, almost-identical summits that treat you to a 360-degree view from the Golden Gate to Alcatraz, Berkeley and the peninsula.
If you want to venture beyond San Francisco, some of California’s most celebrated attractions are nearby, from the soaring redwoods of Muir Woods to the infamous Alcatraz Island in the middle of the bay.
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is undisputedly one of the most popular destinations in a state with some pretty serious competition; in many other states, it would surely be the star attraction by far. That’s how rich the city is, with its gorgeous buildings erected by the city’s early Spanish settlers, as well as later mission revival architecture. And, of course, it occupies a prime spot along the famous oceanfront Highway 101, with a backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains and a long stretch of beach with the undeveloped Channel Islands offshore.
For a modest-size city, Santa Barbara offers some seriously upscale shopping, while restaurants range from trendy taquerías to establishments serving fine French fare. And the fine wine flows through the city, as downtown now hosts a slew of not just wine shops but wineries and vineyards. If you want a taste of Santa Barbaran viticulture, enjoy our Cycling Through The Vineyards shore excursion in Partnership With Food & Wine Magazine and visit the picturesque town of Los Olivos for wine and olive oil tasting. Whether you are interested in high culture, white-sand beaches or white-tablecloth restaurants, this is one of those destinations that truly has something for everyone.
San Diego, California
Explore the beautiful coastal landscapes, lush gardens and iconic architecture of sun-drenched San Diego, home to the World-Famous San Diego Zoo. There are lots of things to do for everyone — from visiting the country’s largest urban park to taking in the famous horse-racing season in Del Mar to riding the charming Old Town Trolley.
For the naturalist, hike the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to get a glimpse of whale migrations, go sailing in the bay and, of course, surf the famous swells of Del Mar, Oceanside and La Jolla, among many other superb spots. But the sixth-largest city in the United States is surprisingly nuanced, with distinctive neighborhoods: Old Town, North Park, Point Loma and Coronado are all within a few miles of the port, while the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy are within walking distance. For those who want to do it all, book our San Diego Highlights shore excursion.
Visit the port town of Avalon in the island of Catalina, California. Here you’ll find a beach community with a Mediterranean flair reminiscent of a quieter time, and one that seems far from the traffic and bustle of Los Angeles. The island’s distinctive landscape is a mix of mountains, canyons, beaches and coves, giving nature lovers the perfect photo-op. You can easily explore Avalon in a few hours, as nearly everything is concentrated in a few blocks. That leaves the afternoon for exploring the rest of the island, where sailboats bob in crystal-clear waters in the crescent-shaped bay, and the main street is lined with boutiques and restaurants in brightly painted bungalows.
One of California’s most beautiful coastal cities, Monterey boasts a charming downtown with historic buildings and a world-class aquarium. It’s also the setting of several John Steinbeck novels.
Travel the famed 17-Mile Drive, one of America’s most picturesque roads, which winds along the rocky coastline. This bucket-list drive includes a stop at Bird Rock and Seal Rock for wildlife viewing where you can breathe in the magnificent coastal views and the abundant wildlife as pelicans and cormorants jockey for space. Don’t miss the chance for a photograph at the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Club. Monterey’s natural rocky coastline, unobstructed views of the Pacific, the wildlife of the peninsula, and the famed Monterey cypress trees complete a pretty picture.
Nicknamed the Pearl of the Pacific, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and a mountain range to the east, Ensenada is Baja California’s third-largest city and one of its commercial and cultural hubs. The weather here is pleasant year round, evoking comparisons to Mediterranean climates. But the hot days and cool nights aren’t the only reasons Ensenada and surrounding towns are compared to the Mediterranean; similar crops are grown here, including asparagus, olives and grapes. It’s this last crop that makes Ensenada the gateway to Baja’s wine route (Ruta del Vino), where labels little known outside of Mexico are produced, often in small batches. Winery tours and tastings are a quintessential Ensenada experience. It all makes for a pleasant visit, especially for foodies and oenophiles, who will appreciate the area’s farm-to-table ethic and its many alfresco restaurants.
No matter where you’re from, a Holland America Line Pacific Coast cruise is the perfect way to visit all of these gorgeous and unique ports.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve visited these places before! If not, which one are you most excited to explore?