Thursday, February 2, 2017



     One of the benefits of having out-of-town visitors is that it usually leads to an excursion to a place that you normally don't go. That was the case recently when our great niece came to town, and said that she would like to go to Ocean Beach. OB, as the locals call it, is a district with a “hippie” vibe that is located seven miles west of downtown. It is also home to a popular California landmark—the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier. It's the longest pier (1,971 feet) in Southern California and the second longest along the California Pacific coastline. The longest is the Santa Cruz Wharf (2,745 feet).

     A leisurely stroll along the pier was definitely on the agenda for this pleasant and sunny January afternoon. Ron dropped us off at the foot of the pier while he drove around to find parking, which is often a challenge here. Nicole, Anna, and I headed out to enjoy the spectacular views of Pacific Beach to the north and Sunset Cliffs to the south. Surf was up and there were many surfers riding the waves below. With a January ocean temperature of 59 degrees, they were geared up in wetsuits.

     The small Ocean Beach Pier Cafe is located about midway out. It hangs over the water and makes a unique stopover for a beverage or snack. At the foot of the pier are some lovely tide pools where you can find shore crabs or sea anemones at low tide.

The pier offers free fishing to everyone—no license required. Popular catches include herring (no limit), mackerel, bass, sharks, halibut, and yellowtail. There is a bait shop and restroom on the pier as well as benches to savor the view. The pier is open 24 hours a day.

     When the concrete pier was built in 1966 it's original purpose was fishing. Local fishermen needed a way to prevent their fishing lines and lures from getting tangled in the vast kelp and rock beds that lie near the surface of the water near the shore. With the construction of the Ocean Beach Pier in 1966, anglers are able to fish in 25-30 feet of water, avoiding most of the shoreline kelp and enabling them to catch species of fish that live in deeper waters.
By the time we finished our stroll Ron had found parking. Next on our tour is a drive north to La Jolla to observe the sea lions and seals on the shoreline, another popular tourist attraction.
     We were pleased that Nicole enjoyed the OB ocean pier so much so that she asked if there was another one to visit the following day. Fortunately, the Imperial Beach Pier is nearby and a pleasant seven-mile drive along the Silver Strand. The Strand is on a sandy isthmus that connects Coronado to Imperial Beach.

When we arrived at the pier, it was cool and windy, but we still headed out for a walk. The Imperial Beach Pier is the southernmost pier on the California coast and offers views of Tijuana, Mexico, and the Cuyamaca Mountains to the south. It's also one of the best places to view the Los Coronados Islands that lie eight miles northwest off the shore of Baja.California. Battered by the wind and waves, they are largely infertile and uninhabited except for a small military detachment and a few lighthouse keepers. Looking the other direction, toward the east, you can see the skyline of San Diego.

     The old wooden pier, jetting 1,500 feet into the Pacific Ocean. is a great place to observe the local fishing scene. Unfortunately, there are often advisories about contaminated water in this area due to runoff from the Tijuana River.

     The Scripps Institute of Oceanography operates a weather reporting station half way along the Imperial Beach Pier for sky condition, temperature, humidity, pressure, wind, and water data.

     We decided to cap off the end of the day with a happy hour at the Sea1Coastal Tavern(800 Seacoast Drive), a short walk away. With a spectacular view of the pier at sunset, it was a perfect way to end our time together.

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