1. Surf Divas. Historically, women haven't exactly had the upper hand as far as self-confidence goes. Sure, you'll meet a few G.I. Janes that have no problem with body image, playing sports, having poise or starting a spirited yelling match, but Isabelle Tihanyi and her twin sister Caroline know that inflated female egos aren't the norm. Thus, we have Surf Divas, a full-fledged female-only surf school based at La Jolla Shores that teaches ladies how to shred some curls and do it in style. In 1996, the Tihanyis formed the company using Isabelle's competitive surfing experience and Caroline's business smarts. The results are impressive: On any given weekend, you'll find dozens of women lying face-down on soft-topped boards in the sand, poised to practice the jump-up-to-surf stance. Up, down, up, down, up, down. The instructors-some of whom boast sideline careers in firefighting, medicine, nursing, teaching, law and snowboarding-barely bark and don't bite. And as for self-confidence, most of the wetsuit-clad ladies who take Surf Diva classes leave with more ego juice-and who wouldn't after pulling off a goofy foot switcheroo in the cracking tube.
Surf Divas, 2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla. 858-454-8273. www.surfdiva.com
2. La Jolla Shores leopard sharks. Legend has it that the old timers in the 1950s used to seize the tails of passing leopard sharks in the sparkling shallow waters of La Jolla Shores and drag them beachward for examination by local awestruck kids. These days, at the beginning of every summer in front of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, swarms of the spotted, harmless creatures-scientific name triakis semifasciata-gather and freak out the tourists. It is an intimidating thing, wading with dozens of three-foot-long chompers within arm's reach. They tend to congregate with a few guitarfish but neither species bothers people. Most of the sharks sit in about three to five feet of water, just shy of the Marine Room-the world-class waterfront restaurant built in 1916-where a marine wall and shallow reef system extends southward into La Jolla Cove. Go down to the Shores and smack on a snorkel mask and face your fears-there's nothing better than telling your friends that you swam with hundreds of man-eaters, even if they are of the three-foot-and-harmless variety.
Find the sharks in front of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, 2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla.
3. Coronado bike ride. Hollywood has been shooting films in Coronado since 1901. Baywatch called the Coronado sand home for a brief stint. Lyndon Johnson and every president since have visited. But beneath the schmaltz and glamour is a quaint village founded by explorers, maintained by the armed forces and dripping with charming character. The best way to tour Coronado isn't in a limo or on one of those overpriced, underachieving Segways-it's on the bike path. Named the Bayshore Bikeway, the Coronado-encasing trail actually is just a part of the 26-mile whole that scoots all the way around San Diego Bay. In 1975, when the path was christened, the view probably didn't include so many multi-million-dollar mansions, but now that's a part of the charm. You can rent beach cruisers from a number of vendors in Coronado and begin at Glorietta Boulevard (directly across from the Hotel Del). The path will take you on a very leisurely two-hour-long jaunt. Winding along residential side streets, it follows the Coronado Golf Course and even veers underneath the Bay Bridge to reveal a striking view of downtown from the other side at Tidelands Park. Beware little kids on killer scooters. Be wary of piercing butt-pain from malformed bike seats. But be prepared to enjoy views that would make even the most seasoned explorer gasp in delight.
Coronado's Bayshore Bikeway starts at Glorietta Boulevard and Pomona Avenue, directly across from the Hotel Del Coronado. Two island-based bike rental businesses: Bike San Diego, 641 17th St., San Diego (619-595-0211); and Bikes & Beyond, 1201 1st St., Suite 122, Coronado (619-435-7180).
4. Balloon ride. You know that friend who's so scared of heights that he totally flinches when he has to stand on a stool? Dr. Phil recommends that he face his fear. And what better way than to send him rocketing up into the skies in a wicker basket? Although hot air balloons never really caught on as a popular mode of transportation, they are a regular sight in North County skies-hovering threateningly low over the spacious mansions of Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch. Any acrophobic friend will enjoy the scenic sunset views and will most definitely imbibe on complimentary mid-flight champagne. High-sided baskets actually do ensure the safety of passengers and most of the balloon companies in North County carry an A-grade insurance rating. But make sure to do your homework! If you're not careful, your 360-degree view-although breathtaking-may also come with one of those Disneyland-style jokester pilots who rocks the basket to make a funny. And God knows your acrophobic friend doesn't need a coronary.
Balloon companies: Sunballoon, Rancho Santa Fe, 760-802-5077. California Dreaming, Encinitas, 760-634-0949. Balloon Flights LLC, Rancho Santa Fe, 858-756-6967. California Dreamin' Balloon, Encinitas, 800-373-3359.