We recently had the opportunity to tour the newly-expanded Kona Kai Resort and Spa on San Diego California’s beautiful Shelter Island. As long-time San Diego residents, we remembered this venerable property which has quite a fascinating history, having attracted its share of famous celebrities over the decades, from Presidents to pop stars.

And baby, look at it now!

View on the marina from our suite’s balcony. © Joanne DiBona Photography

View on the marina from our suite’s balcony. © Joanne DiBona Photography

The property, now a Noble House Resort, boasts its very own private beach, multiple swimming pools, waterfront restaurants, an award-winning spa, 55,000 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor event space, a 500-slip marina, and a renowned private club— the Kona Kai Club.  Paloma Pool and Bar, a new and exclusive pool area for adults only, allows guests to enjoy poolside craft cocktails and California Coastal cuisine while overlooking some of the region’s most breathtaking sunsets.

Since a photo is worth 1,000 words, we would like to share our gallery of original photos taken during our two-night stay at one of the property’s brand new suites that featured a pleasant island decor, a balcony overlooking San Diego Bay, and a deep soaking tub. I must admit the tub was the ultimate in relaxation after a long day of kayaking, hiking and other activities we enjoyed during our stay.


The only photos missing from our experience are from our oh-so-relaxing couples massage, which we relished as part of our experience at SpaTerre, the property’s state-of-the-art spa. We put down our cameras for an hour to luxuriate in the outstanding massage therapy we received under our therapists’ excellent hands.

For those of you who may be bird watchers, we were astounded at the number of magnificent sea birds that make their home in the marina just steps away from the hotel. It was such a pleasure to photograph them from the shore and as part of our exciting kayak excursion down the marina. Click on our photo link to see some lovely images of the amazing sea birds we encountered during this kayak adventure.

As San Diegans, we can honestly suggest the Kona Kai Resort, located just minutes away from San Diego International Airport, the historic downtown Gaslamp Quarter, and all of the city’s top attractions, for a Spring Break experience that is sure to please.

The property is currently offering a variety of Spring travel specials. These include:

Stay Four or More

Guests who book four or more nights at the resort will receive a $300 resort credit and a cabana rental at the new Paloma Pool and Bar overlooking the Kona Kai Marina, steps away from the new luxury suites. The credit can be used for additional amenities at the hotel, such as brunch at Vessel featuring bottomless mimosas and live music every Saturday and Sunday, signaturecocktails enjoyed at the pool or bar, stand-up paddle boarding, couples massages and more.

SoCal Suiteness

The resort’s new spacious, waterfront, adjoining suites are the perfect coastal accommodations to keep the family close this spring break, but with enough space to relax. The SoCal Suiteness package offers guests the following:

  • Two of the resort’s brand-new waterfront suites

  • Adventure credit for water sports of $100 per day

  • A couple’s amenity and kids’ amenity

  • Poolside cabana rental

Spring it On

This package provides all you need for a fun and stress-free getaway for the whole family. The

package includes:

  • Daily breakfast credit for four

  • A daily $100 adventure credit to enjoy all the amenities and activities the resort has to offer, such as kayaking, pedal boats, or Jet Ski rentals

To learn more about other spring travel packages, call 619.221.8000 or visit

Chick Corea, Together with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, sets the night on fire in San Diego

One of the major jazz piano voices of the last 50 years, Chick Corea, together with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, lit up the hallowed halls of the 1929 Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego in March, 2018 with an exciting repertoire of free jazz and jazz fusion selections.

Since a video is worth 1,000 words, enjoy this 90-second clip of an exciting performance by this jazz piano great, accompanied by the titillating Jazz at Lincoln Center instrumentalists.

One of the major jazz piano voices of the last 50 years, Chick Corea, together with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, lit up the hallowed halls of the 1929 Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego with an exciting repertoire of free jazz and jazz fusion selections.

Photo Tour of the "Discovery of King Tut" Exhibition at San Diego's Natural History Museum

 Residents and visitors to San Diego had the opportunity in 2014 to go back in time 3,000+ years to experience the discovery of the tomb of the legendary 18-year-old Egyptian King Tutankhamun, aka King Tut.


King Tut Death Mask, © Joanne DiBona

King Tut Death Mask, © Joanne DiBona


     Making its West Coast debut, the breathtaking exhibition presents a recreation of the legendary boy king’s tomb and treasures exactly as they were discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

     Because the fragile originals are no longer permitted to tour outside of Egypt, this exhibit features 1,000 scientifically-produced replicas hand-crafted by Egyptian artisans.

     For those who might hesitate to view less than the "real" thing, rest assured that this exhibit will definitely not disappoint, but vividly bring ancient history back to the 21st Century.

    As pointed out by Mark Lach, creative director at Premier Exhibitions, Inc., presenter of the exhibition, "Because we are using recreations of the originals, we are able to stage the exhibit to replicate the astonishing discovery of the tomb by Howard Carter in every detail, something that wasn't possible up to now." 

     Sure enough, the visitor is taken through scenes that exactly replicate what Carter and his companions must have viewed in their initial entry into the tomb, in every detail, and through every chamber leading to the discovery of King Tut's magnificent, multi-level sarcophagus. Audio tour equipment augments the visitor experience.

     For more information on upcoming exhibits, call 619.232.3821 or visit

King Tut Royal Throne          © Joanne DiBona

King Tut Royal Throne          © Joanne DiBona

Taste Your Good Fortune at KITCHEN 1540 in Del Mar, California

If your travels find you in the charming seaside community of Del Mar, California, some twenty miles north of downtown San Diego, celebrate your good fortune. Not only will you be afforded majestic views of the California coast and the pleasure of meandering through the quaint and picturesque town of Del Mar, you are in the perfect location to enjoy a culinary experience at KITCHEN 1540, located in the historic seaside hotel, L'Auberge Del Mar.

The brainchild behind the taste sensations on the restaurant's new menu is Chef Brandon Fortune. Classically trained at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, Brandon's creations are modern American with a decidedly Southern influence based on his Southeastern roots.

                           ©Joanne DiBona

                           ©Joanne DiBona

KITCHEN 1540's sleek, modern décor is sophisticated and comfortable at the same time, and sets a perfect stage for a variety of innovative dishes sure to please the most discriminating palate.

So what can diners expect from Fortune's menu?

Start off your culinary adventure with a tastefully arranged platter of cold-smoked trout and organic beets. Cured steelhead saltwater trout and tender beets are embellished with a blood orange vinaigrette, black walnuts, and feathered horseradish, served with a side of chive-potato cakes.

Those who prefer a warm appetizer might elect a plate of asparagus and grilled wild ramps. Described by the chef as “spring on a plate,” this vegetarian dish features organic wild ramps and asparagus with parmesan and pecorino cheeses shaved on top. A delightful French-inspired cream sauce made with eggs and lemon and lightly toasted caraway seeds is the perfect dressing for this vegetable creation.

                   Shrimp and Grits, a Passionate Combination ©Joanne DiBona

                   Shrimp and Grits, a Passionate Combination ©Joanne DiBona

Shrimp and grits, the Chef's signature entree, elevates grits to new heights, thanks to a roasted corn and chorizo cream and succulent fresh shrimp. A topping of popcorn adds a whimsical theme to the plate. Chef Fortune admits he used this dish to woo his wife, a testimony to the old adage, “The way to the heart is through the stomach.”

Seafood specialties include the popular “still smoking scallops,” presented sizzling hot surrounded by asparagus and coriander puree, wild chanterelles, and smoked almonds powdered with lemon-thyme buds. The flaky North Pacific Halibut is served with celery root puree, mushrooms, spring carrots, and garnished with crispy fiddlehead ferns.

Chocolate lovers will delight in the malted milk chocolate mousse, one of several excellent desserts available to satisfy your sweet tooth. Roasted almonds and chocolate crunch, topped with homemade coffee ice cream, provides a decadently delicious end to a perfect meal.

For a complete menu, visit For several of my images of Kitchen 1540 and Chef Fortune's culinary masterpieces, log onto the San Diego Scenic Photos site.

Try it out if you are in Del Mar-- and raise a glass to your good fortune.

10 Places to Shoot Postcard Perfect Photos of San Diego

San Diego has been my home for 30 years, and I never tire of photographing the natural beauty of this sun-blessed region. My photo show on the "10 Best Paces to Shoot San Diego Photos" is currently running on the home page of 10 TODAY. I welcome your comments as to YOUR favorite San Diego photo spot!


 Oceanside Beach  © Joanne DiBona

 Oceanside Beach  © Joanne DiBona

Much Respect Goes to the Talented San Diego Cast of "Respect: A Musical Journey of Women"

An old song has a funny way of jarring one’s memory.  Details of significant life events may fade over the decades, but all it takes is a tune from yesteryear to bring one back to a specific moment in time, or to one long-forgotten life experience.

This is the appeal of the high-energy musical, Respect: A Musical Journey of Women, currently enjoying a run at the Lyceum Theatre in downtown San Diego.  Its concept is simple, yet powerful:  the history of women in the 20th Century is brought to life through the popular songs representing each era.  Excerpts from some 60 songs spanning the decades, combined with a masterful script, tell the story of the tumultuous journey of woman as they struggle to gain their rights and personal freedom.

Any production, no matter how well-written, is only as successful as its cast, and this is where the San Diego production shines. An incredibly talented cast of four San Diego performers (Leigh Scarritt, Nancy Snow Carr, Lisa H. Payton and Kelsey Venter) backed by an equally stellar 5-piece band, brought this musical to life from the moment they stepped on stage.

 The vocalists not only performed with style and energy during their solo numbers, but joined in masterful harmony on several songs throughout the evening. Their perfectly-executed rendition of George Gershwin’s classic, Someone to Watch Over Me, at the onset of the show promised musical excellence ahead. Not once during the two hour run time (and one hundred musical years) the production covered, did this exceptional cast disappoint.

The audience was propelled through a variety of emotions throughout the evening as the script and song selection went from the frivolous (a Betty Boop version of I Wanna Be Loved By You portraying the ‘20s), to the comedic (It’s Howdy Doody Time and Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend in a humorous look back on the ‘50s), to the historic (Over There and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in a ‘40s WWII salute), to the painful (God Bless the Child and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around in a soul-stirring commentary on the struggle for civil rights in the ‘50s and 60s).

Women’s dependence upon men through the decades was brought to light with songs such as As Long as He Needs Me and I Will Follow Him.

Not only did the cast’s vocal talents hit perfection, their acting and comedic abilities made for some unforgettable moments throughout the evening.  Kelsey Venter had the audience in stitches with her rendition of the classic Vicky Carr tune, “It Must Be Him.”  Poised in front of a giant red telephone, Kelsey portrays the anguish of a young woman in the ‘60s who (without the aid of modern conveniences such as cell phone, voice mail and text messaging) awaits a call from “him” --that never comes.  In another side-splitting routine, Kelsey belts out the Nancy Sinatra classic, These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ , as white boots fall out of the sky to be donned by the rest of the cast as they  join her in a poetic “stomp” on male dominance.

The production culminates in a rousing version of I Will Survive, a celebration of the resilience of womanhood in overcoming the trials and tribulations of a century—a rendition which brought the entire audience to their feet in joyous applause and a standing ovation.  

This evocative musical is the brainchild of Columbia University professor Dr. Dorothy Marcic, who spent years researching the Top-40 songs of each decade since 1900 in her quest to tell the whole story of women in the 20th century. The show was developed into a full-scale musical theatre production in 2004 and has since played in major venues across the nation and internationally.

The outstanding San Diego production has certainly garnered this reviewer’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T!

For more information, visit