Kona Kai Resort, Shelter Island | San Diego, CA
10th Wedding Anniversary Getaway in San Diego

Our tenth wedding anniversary was last week! I cannot believe it has already been ten years since we got married at the San Diego courthouse the day before San Diego Comic-Con 2013. To celebrate, we flew to San Diego a few days prior to SDCC 2023 for a little getaway on Shelter Island. For our stay we selected Kona Kai, a resort with views of downtown San Diego, and it was a really nice spot for our celebration.

Kona Kai Resort
Kona Kai lobby


We arrived in the early afternoon and hung out on the hotel restaurant patio while we waited for our room to be ready. For dinner that evening we chose to go to Pizza Nova, a place we passed by on our way from the airport to Shelter Island. Pizza is always a good choice…and I almost always have leftovers for breakfast the next day.  🙂

Hello, Shelter Island!
Waiting for our Uber to dinner

We strolled back to the hotel after dinner and saw a beautiful sunset along the way:

Sunset in San Diego

The resort has a private beach with several fire pits. We love a fire pit! So once we returned from dinner, we grabbed a glass of wine from the bar and relaxed by the fire while chatting with some other visitors. Of course I had to get a photo sitting in the resort’s big blue chair on the way back to our room:

Big blue chair at Kona Kai Resort


After pizza leftovers for breakfast, I bought a couple skin care items at the resort’s spa store, then wandered the resort grounds and learned that they offer water sport rentals. So I booked us a one-hour tandem kayak for that afternoon. I find traveling pretty exhausting, so I rested and watched the Wimbledon Men’s Final match on TV. And before kayaking, I soaked in our tub with some bath salts that I brought because our tub at home isn’t large enough for relaxing baths.

We had a lot of fun kayaking around the cove! I probably haven’t kayaked in at least ten years and my arms kept getting tired, but I managed to keep going for most of the time.

Kayaking off of Shelter Island

The water was calm and it was a gorgeous, mild day in San Diego to kayak around and gawk at all the boats in the marina (how the hell do so many people afford boats?!).

My view from the front of the kayak:

Kayaking in the cove

For dinner, I had made us a reservation at Bali Hai, a famous Polynesian restaurant on Shelter Island that we went to after a sunset sail in 2019. The place is known for its Mai Tais; customers are only allowed two apiece. Considering they’re 100% alcohol and 0% juice, I’m a little surprised they don’t limit them to one per person. I skipped the Mai Tai and ordered a Mr. Bali Hai instead, which was delicious.

Dinner at Bali Hai

Our table was right by the window in the middle of the dining room, so we had an amazing panoramic view of downtown San Diego. I could spot my favorite SDCC hotel, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, from our table (unfortunately we didn’t get to stay there this year). The food menu is not necessarily my thing; there’s a lot of fish, which I don’t eat. We started with the spinach cream cheese lumpia (basically spring rolls with a guava dipping sauce), and I had the local greens salad with goat cheese, berries, and macadamia nuts for dinner. We had a really nice time at Bali Hai and would return.

Dinner at Bali Hai with a view of downtown San Diego

Monday / Our 10th Anniversary!

We started off our tenth anniversary with breakfast on the patio at Vessel, the hotel’s restaurant. I got the banana bread French toast, which tasted good, but banana bread isn’t quite right for French toast. It’s a little too soft; I prefer a more standard bread like challah for French toast.

Kona Kai Resort, Shelter Island | San Diego, CA
Breakfast view

John spent time reading by the pool and I rested in the room some more. In the afternoon I hung out with him at the pool for a while, with a dip in the hot tub. Then it was time to get ready for our anniversary evening! Here’s my finished hair and makeup look:

10th anniversary hair & makeup

The day prior, while checking Google Maps to see how long the ride would be to our dinner location in Old Town (I like to know what to expect!) I remembered that there’s a haunted house near the restaurant we were going to. The place is called Whaley House and I’ve been wanting to check it out, but I usually forget about it when we’re in San Diego because I’m so wrapped up in SDCC. So I booked us an evening tour that we could go on before heading to dinner.

Whaley House, San Diego
Whaley House, Old Town San Diego

The WH has a little museum shop next door where you check in for your tour. There was way too much fun spooky stuff at the shop! I bought an adorable pair of earrings that I ended up wearing three days in a row at SDCC:

Ouija planchette cat earrings

The house tour is pretty short, maybe 45 minutes max, but the place isn’t too big so there’s not a ton to go through. Tour guides dress in period garb and give a fun, informative history of the house and the man who built it, Thomas Whaley. Interestingly, the house contains San Diego’s second courthouse as well as a theater with a stage. You would never guess it just by looking at the house from the outside!

There were several deaths inside the home, including at least a couple children. So, many spirits are believed to reside there. Here’s a children’s’ bedroom with a creepy-ass old doll in a cradle…no thank you.

Childrens' room at Whaley House, San Diego

After the tour I took a photo of the back of the house and noticed an orb near the upper right window, where the tour guide mentioned that ghost of the lady of the house has been seen. You can also see a star-like orb by the left-hand ground floor window. Clearly the sun is shining from the right of the photo so the orbs are probably just related to the light hitting my phone lens, but let’s pretend they’re legit spirits.  😛

Orbs behind Whaley House, San Diego

After the tour, we strolled through Old Town over to Casa Guadalajara, where we ate dinner with our SDCC family and friends the evening that we got married! We’ve eaten there during our SDCC trips most years, but skipped it last year. So it was really nice to return and enjoy tasty margaritas and Mexican food on the patio.

Casa Guadalajara, Old Town San Diego

We’re the dorks who left our Whaley House stickers on after the tour.

10th anniversary dinner at Casa Guadalajara

After dinner we strolled around Old Town some more and encountered this succulent sculpture that gave me serious Midsommar vibes:

Succulent sculpture in Old Town, San Diego

We decided to have a drink at Rose’s Tasting Room and chatted with the bartender there for a while. Then we headed back to Kona Kai and had a glass of wine by the fire pit before calling it a night.

Shelter Island cove at night
Look at the mirror finish on the water!

The next morning we had to pack up and move to our SDCC hotel. We had such a wonderful time celebrating our anniversary and I’m so happy that we treated ourselves to this mini vacation before our nerd vacation. I feel so lucky to have already spent ten years married to my favorite person!

Stay tuned for my SDCC recap, once I’ve had a chance to select some photos out of the hundreds that I took.  🙂