Crystal Pier Hotel
There is simply no way to get any closer to the ocean in San Diego than staying at the Crystal Pier Hotel. The white cottages with blue trim sit directly above the crashing waves of the ocean on the wide pier that stretches out past Pacific Beach. While the pier is open to the public, hotel customers need only share their deck with a passing pelican or seagull. Amenities are scarce, but with the hotel's cottage-front parking on the pier and well-equipped kitchenettes it's easy to feel at home on top of the water.
Insider Tip: The hotel has built up such a following that it's necessary to book at least half a year in advance for a winter stay (one group has been coming for 50 years), and even longer if you wish to stay any time June through September.