If you haven’t been to the piers around San Diego, I urge you to take a walk out to the end and see the characters who fish from them and watch the surfers who ride below them. A pier. A simple wooden structure that takes us a few hundred feet out over the ocean can provide fun, recreation and is often at the center of a community’s commerce.
Imperial Beach Pier
Originally built in 1909, the Imperial Beach pier was knocked down twice before the current version was built in 1988. IB has undergone a transformation over the past 20 years. The sleepy beach town was almost forgotten among San Diego’s high profile beach communities. In July 1999, the area around the pier was refurbished and has been experiencing consistent growth.Fun fact: Imperial Beach draws thousands of spectators and competitors each July to take part in a sandcastle building contest.
Places of interest: Pier South Resort, Tijuana River estuary, Silver Strand, Coronado and Mexico.
Ocean Beach Pier
The OB pier was built in 1962 and, at 1,971 feet, it’s the second longest pier on the West Coast and the longest concrete fishing pier in the world. During winter months, people love to watch the huge waves break over the top of its railings.
Fun fact: Dog Beach, just to the north, is the city’s best leash-free area for pets and owners looking for a nice beach day. In the summer, the Fourth of July fireworks show is best watched from your surfboard while floating directly under the explosions.
Places of interest: Nico’s Taco Shop, The Black, Wonderland Ocean Pub, and Sunset Cliffs.
Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach officially opened on the weekend of July 4, 1927. In the winter of 1983, huge surf toppled more than 240 feet off the end the pier, which was finally refurbished in the early 1990s into its current configuration.
Fun fact: It’s the only pier in California you can sleep on. The cottages on Crystal Pier have been a favorite of locals and tourists alike for decades, but they get snatched up fast so make reservations well in advance.
Places of interest: Taco Surf, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Pacific Drive Skateboard Shop.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier
The original pier was built in 1915 and was 1,000 feet long and its purpose was to acquire clean seawater for laboratories and an aquarium. Eventually a replacement was necessary, and a modern, 1,090-foot pier opened in 1987 for the private use of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
Fun fact: People often line up at the pier on weekends to collect used seawater from the Scripps aquarium for use in their own private aquariums.
Places of interest: The Cheese Shop, La Jolla Cove, Birch Aquarium, UCSD and Mount Soledad.
The original Oceanside pier was built in 1888, but winter storms knocked it and four replacements down over the past 100 years. The current pier was finished in 1987. At its foot is the Junior Seau Pier Amphitheatre.
Fun fact: A Spanish galleon, the Trinidad, is rumored to have run aground off Oceanside in 1540 while carrying millions in Aztec gold.
Places of interest: Privateer Coal Fire Pizza, The Beach Break Cafe, Grandeur skate shop and Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT).