Imperial Beach, California—My favorite beach

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are many popular beaches in San Diego County.

Ocean Beach is always busy since it is at the end of Newport Avenue, the main street in Ocean Beach.

Giant Dipper, Belmont Park, San Diego CaliforniaPacific Beach has its boardwalk and Belmont roller coaster.

La Jolla Beach has its seals and sea lions.

Blacks Beach is world famous among the Naturists and Nudists.

Torrey Pines State Beach has great waves for the surfers.

Coronado Beach was rated the nation’s best beach in 2012. It’s a great beach but it’s a misleading rating because all beaches previously rated #1 are banned from the list. Makes no sense.

Mission Beach, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Swami’s, Mission Bay, Silver Strand, Point Loma, Leucadia, Cardiff-by-the-Sea…….. Each beach has its own characteristics, and characters.

My favorite beach, though, is the most southwesterly beach in the most southwesterly city in the continental United States: Imperial Beach.

Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I came to San Diego in April 1993, Imperial Beach, both the city and the beach, were areas of high crime, drug deals, murders, shootings, property damage…. generally just an area to stay away from. One friend called it North Tijuana. In the late 1990s, the people of Imperial Beach decided to take back their city and beach, and they have succeeded.

U.S. Open Sandcastle Championships, 2011, Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The picture above was taken at the 2011 United States Open Sandcastle Championship, hosted for over thirty years by Imperial Beach, and usually the only time that masses of people went to Imperial Beach. Otherwise, the beach typically looked like this:

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge Shoreline, Imperial Beach, California

 Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I like Imperial Beach because it stretches along Imperial Beach’s downtown area, making it easy to come in from the beach for lunch or supper. It also has a long pier, and I love piers.

Most southwesterly pier, Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sunset at Imperial Beach California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Another factor that influences me is how clean the beach is.

The extremely popular beaches, like Mission Bay and Pacific Beach, can get pretty grungy at times, especially holidays.

La Jolla Cove gets smelly because of the seals and sea lions, but the seals and sea lions frolicking in the surf and giving birth to their pups each year make the whole scene well worth a visit.

Seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, California

 Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Many of the most popular beaches also have to be cleaned regularly of the kelp that is left on them by the high tides. Kelp can get quite messy and smelly, and the sand flies that like kelp can make a trip to the beach a nightmare. Kelp does make pretty pictures, though.

Kelp at Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Kelp at Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I first came to San Diego, a trip to the most popular beaches early in the morning would reveal special beach trucks roaming the sands picking up all the kelp that the previous evening’s high tides left behind.

Mismanagement of San Diego’s finances put an end to that luxury, and even though the city seems to have gotten its financial books in order, luxuries like beach cleaning, libraries and parks that are open on a daily basis with regular hours, and streets without potholes have not returned. Maybe if the city could get its politicians under control (U.S. Representative Randy Cunningham in prison for accepting bribes, several city councilmen resigned and are appealing prison sentences for accepting bribes, a mayor elected in November 2012 resigned in 2013 after 19 women accused him of sexual harassment………. on and on), luxuries would return to America’s Finest City. Aerosmith might have said it best: “Dream On.”

Imperial Beach doesn’t have as much a problem with kelp as the more popular beaches like Blacks Beach, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach. Although I have not done any official measurements, I think Imperial Beach is the widest of the beaches, with maybe only Coronado Beach coming close.

Imperial Beach

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you like crowded beaches, stay away from Imperial Beach except on holidays. If you want a little peace and quiet with your beach, so you can hear the roar of the waves and the cries of the gulls, give Imperial Beach a try. Be sure to walk to the end of the pier and have a meal at The Tin Fish. It’s a fast food restaurant, but I always find the food tasty and worth the price, and the view back to shore as you’re eating makes the price even more acceptable.

The Tin Fish

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most southesterly sunset, Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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3 thoughts on “Imperial Beach, California—My favorite beach

  1. jeaninjackson

    Check out the Beach across from the train station in Del Mar. There is (or use to be) The Poseiden Restaurant. Their deck sits right on the sand. I use to stop for crab potato skins and Keoki Coffee. It was heavenly. I lived by the race track for awhile years and years ago.

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