Plants at the Beach-San Onofre

San Onofre State Beach May Trails Beach

Boy, was I excited to finally go to the beach on May 24, 2020? Anyone else happy to get out of their houses, too? Well, I was so happy that I actually went to San Onofre State Beach twice in one week. You see, because of the lockdown in California, I was not able to witness the beginning of wildflower season. So my main objective on this first day back to the beach was to see as many plants as I could! The first time we headed to Trestles and the following Friday, I explored the southern section, just under San Onofre Campground at Bluffs Beach (or Trails Beach). Down below, I would love to share with you what I saw, in other words, all of the plants at the beach that I encountered.

Previous to this beach adventure, I had just finished a post on Southern California Native Plants. Within this post, I have documented all of the plants and wildflowers I encountered in the chaparral and Southern Oak Woodland behind my neighborhood during Quarantine 2020.  After hours and hours of research, I sure learned a tremendous amount!

Plant Names Given by San Diego Native Inhabitants 

Recently I have been fascinated with Native American uses of the native plants in the area (Ethnobotany), so I thought that I would continue with the same format I followed for my previous native plant post.

The Kumeyaay people were the first known original inhabitants of San Diego. Kumeyaay translates to ‘those who face the water from a cliff.” (Click on the link to hear the correct way to pronounce Kumeyaay)

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Five More San Diego Hidden Gems

Ocean sunset san diego hidden gems

San Diego, otherwise known as  “America’s Finest City,” has one of the most beautiful coastlines, if I may dare say, in the world. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, over 35 million people visited San Diego in 2018 and 36.5 million in 2019. I am afraid to see the numbers for 2020, but I digress. One of my favorite things to do on this website is introducing you all to the many, many San Diego hidden gems. I will be the first to admit that I am biased as I have been exploring the San Diego coastline for over thirty-five years. So today, I would like to share with you a few more, in fact, five more San Diego Hidden Gems, so you too can experience San Diego as a native.

When I say San Diego, I refer to the entire 70 miles of the San Diego County coast. From San Onofre State Beach all the way down to the US/Mexico border, the coast of San Diego has something for everyone!

Let us now take a look, shall we?

#Click on any photo in the gallery to view a larger image


Old Man’s Beach at San Onofre State Beach

Old Man Secret Spot Hidden gems San Diego

button map Old Mans San Onofre State Beach

I wasn’t sure if I would share this little gem because this has been my little secret for years, but here we go. Old Man’s Beach is found over at San Onofre State Beach and is honestly one of my favorite places to be. Local’s refer to this beach as  San O as well as San Onofre Surfing Beach.

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Sea Caves at La Jolla Underwater Park

Cave window la jolla underwater park

Wow! Do I have some exciting information for you all! Many of you may have somewhat of an idea of my complete, somewhat obsessive love of King Tides. For all others, a King Tide is when you have the highest and lowest tides of the year (click on the link for more in-depth information.) Most attention is ordinarily given to the high tide, as people seem to enjoy seeing just how far the ocean will reach on land.

I absolutely love going to the beach during the lowest of the tides, so I can examine what is usually covered by the ocean and have the rare access to beaches that are usually not accessible.  And let me tell you, today is one of those days.

Yes! My girls and I were able to explore two caves at the La Jolla Underwater Park!

Now I must say this right up front that getting to these caves is no easy feat. You have to have tremendous balance as there is at least a quarter-mile of rocks to walk over until you reach the semi-sandy beach over at Caves Beach.

Would you like to see what we saw?

Let’s go!

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Where to go? San Diego King Tides 2020

new break beach low tide king tides 2020

Boy, what a year! Ironically, did you happen to know that the very last time my husband and I were at the beach before this nightmare of a year was on a King Tide? Yes, we experienced the extreme low tide on January 12 over at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, and it was sublime. If I had known that I wouldn’t be back at the coast until May 26, I would have taken more videos! Anyway, I digress. Let’s make the best of what is left of this unprecedented year, shall we?  Below are my top recommendations on the best San Diego beaches to visit and experience the highest and lowest tides left of the year, otherwise known as the last King Tides of 2020.

Before I start, obviously, going to the tide pools during a negative tide is a major activity, so that I will leave this for you!

–>Top Ten Best San Diego Tidepools<–

The Last Lowest Tides of the Year!

So how low and high are we talking about? There are two high and two low tides per 24 hours on the West Coast of the United States. What is the tide? Tides are long-period waves that cross the planet, pulled back and forth from gravitational pulls due to the earth’s interaction, moon, sun, and other heavenly bodies.

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Checking Out the Cristianitos Fault

Cristianitos Fault san onofre state beach

Hey! Have you ever seen an earthquake fault line? No? Well, today is your lucky day! Referred to as the Cristianitos fault, you can walk right up to it over at San Onofre State Beach.   Now I need to state this fact upfront so there will be no confusion what so ever. I am not a geologist, therefore please be patient with me. If I make an incorrect claim, do not hesitate to correct me down in the comments at the end of the post. I love to learn new things and will not be offended at all.  Several references have helped me out tremendously, though, and I have left them down below for you as well. I encourage you to check them out!

Ok, let’s take a trip over to San Onofre State Beach (my favorite beach in San Diego) and investigate the Cristianitos fault line. As a bonus, I will also be pointing out a few other unique geological features seen over here at this fabulous State Beach.

One more thing. Did you know that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is located less than 800 yards away from this earthquake fault line?

Wait; what?! A nuclear generating station? Next to a fault line?

SONGS is no longer active and has been decommissioning for several years now. But obviously, the question is, why build a nuclear power plant right next to an earthquake fault line? (Click on the above link for more detailed decommissioning information.)

#Click on any photo for a larger version

The Cristianitos Fault Line-Shake, Rattle, & Roll?

Trail one san onofre state beach
Trail One at San Onofre Bluffs Beach Campground

button map san onofre bluffs campground

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California Spiny Lobster Season is Here!

California spiny lobster featured image

The California spiny lobster season is upon us! Historically the season opens the Saturday at 6 am before the first Wednesday in October, and this year, that fell on October 3rd and closes on March 17. Though I have never fished for lobster before, I do know where they hang out in San Diego.

Down below, I have provided information on the California spiny lobster fishing regulations, a map on where not to look for lobsters (Marine Protected Areas), how to fish for lobsters; as well as, a few San Diego recreational lobster boat charters that are available only during this time of year. Also included is a brief overlook of the California spiny lobster life-cycle and a few interesting facts which will help you get a better idea about this elusive and revered West Coast invertebrate!

Let’s now take a look!

West Coast vs. East Coast Lobsters

There are 40 different lobsters worldwide, with the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) being one of the biggest.  Affectionately referred to as ‘bugs,’ the California spiny lobster ranges from south of Point Conception to Magdalena Bay on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico.

California Spiny Lobster Scientific Name Blog Chart
California Spiny Lobster Scientific Classification

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Surfin USA Lyrics-A Closer Look

Surfing USA lyrics Featured Image

The other day I was thinking about the Beach Boys and how they put several San Diego beaches on the map, so to speak. Did you know that five out of the fifteen beaches named are found in San Diego? I thought that it would be enjoyable to take a closer look at the lyrics of Surfin USA.

First of all, most of the website that provides the song lyrics misspell two top-rated surfing beaches, so I am here to be the official spell-checker for you.

  • Trestles-not Trestle
  • San Onofre- not San Ahofree
  • Swami’s- not Swamies

Ok, that was satisfying!

Also for fun, I will be picking a prime photo for each San Diego location to help you can capture a feel of the beaches the Beach Boys were singing about

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Hiking South of San Onofre Bluffs Campground

hiking south san onofre campground featured image

Today I would like to share with you all one of my most awe-inspiring places to go to in all of San Diego County. Every time I am here, I never want to leave. Wherever you look, there is something incredible to see. Even the sounds here are sweet! If you enjoy taking photos, San Onofre State Beach is THE place you must visit!   The views here are extraordinary! Situated on top of towering sandstone cliffs, San Onofre Bluffs Campground has some of the best coastal hiking trails to experience in North County San Diego.

There are seven 1/4 mile hiking trails that lead you down to the beach, as well as countless numbers of ravines, gullies, arroyos, and barrancas.   I think that you will love it here, especially if you appreciate a wild and undeveloped beach, which, by the way, is my favorite type of beach!

On this particular day, my daughter and I started over at Trail Six (see map below) and set up a tent to relax.

My goal on this day was to explore vast amounts of uncharted territory by exploring a few narrow sandstone gullies and a wider barranca south of Trail Six.

Would you care to see what I experienced?

Down below, I have provided you with a map of the campground so you can get a better idea of the terrain and how it is situated.

–>San Onofre State Beach Bluffs Campground Map and Information<–

*Of particular note- in case you notice the pink hue in some of the photos, well, this is because all of the fires that were (some still are) burning while I was here.

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Oceanside Harbor Boat Launch-A Closer Look

Oceanside Harbor Featured image boat trailer car

Southern California has been experiencing a terrible heatwave for the past week, so I decided to go the coast for much-needed relief from the heat! My girls and I decided to head over to Oceanside Harbor Beach. While heading over to the restroom, I decided to look at the Oceanside Harbor boat launch. Down below, I will be showcasing some to the highlights of San Diego’s North County only Ocean boat launch ramp.

Let’s first reiterate that I have a complete informational post that lists all of  San Diego Launch Ramps. (Click on the link for more information)

Oceanside Harbor Map

Oceanside Harbor Map display

Oceanside Harbor is located 38 miles north of Downtown San Diego and  27 miles south of Orange County’s Dana Point Harbor Boat Launch Ramp.  So the question is if you live in San Diego, is the  Oceanside launch ramp worth the trip or not? If you live in North County San Diego, then, of course, it is, yes?

But is it?

Down below, I will be showcasing the west side of Oceanside Harbor, where the boat launch is situated. What I love about this ramp is that everything is in such close proximately to each other. But if you think about it, if it is busy, this feature could be a negative attribute.

Here is a PDF file of the Harbor map. I encourage you to print it out, as it is a great reference to use the next time you are in the area!

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Touring Ocean Beach Park-Lompoc, CA

Ocean Beach Park Lompoc featured image

Did I ever mention that my husband is originally from Lompoc? It is an inside joke between us- a small-town boy meeting a city girl. So, where is Lompoc, which is pronounced LOM-poke? Located 268 miles northwest of San Diego, Lompoc is often referred to as the flower seed capital of the world.  The town was established in 1888 and is located in the middle of Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast of California. It is a small agricultural town that is surrounded by the Vandenberg Airforce Base. I informed my husband that if we were going to visit,  my one desire is to go to the ocean. So we ended up going to Ocean Beach Park in Lompoc, CA, and I am here to share.

Why Lompoc?

Lompoc Map central southern california

A little back story-We just celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary this past July 4, so we decided to go to Las Vegas to commemorate the joyous occasion.

It was nice to revisit where we were married (Treasure Island) and reminisce. On a side note, it was not pleasant at all, going to Las Vegas during Quarantine 2020, but that is not what this post is about, so I digress.

After we were done with the ridiculous heat of Nevada (100 degrees plus), we headed northwest for six hours to see family in  Lompoc. As a rule, it is almost always chilly and overcast there. And to say that I was looking forward to not being so hot is an understatement!

Noting that we were only in town for less than a day, I thought it would be an outstanding idea to have all of the family meet us over at and Ocean Beach Park for a pizza picnic.

It was perfect timing without even knowing just how lucky we were. If this had been any other time before 2020, we would not have been able to enter Ocean Beach Park at all.

More on this later.

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Wardholme Tree You Took My Breath Away!

Wardholme torrey pine featured image me looking up

Just last month, my husband and I were able to visit his family up north to  Santa Barbara County. I was super excited because we would be able to stop by Carpinteria and check out the largest Torrey Pine tree in the world! The tree even has a formal name- the Wardholme Torrey Pine.

It may seem a bit dramatic, but when we were approaching the tree, I gasped! The presence of this giant can not be denied.

Let’s take a look close and personal, shall we?

Important Information
  • Scientific Name
    • Inland Population- Pinus torreyana
    • Santa Rosa Island- Pinus torreyana var. insularis
  • Habitat
    • coastal sage scrub
    • chaparral
  • Endangered
  • One of the rarest pine trees in the world as it only grows naturally in two places in Southern California
    • A small strip of the coastline in Del Mar and La Jolla
    • Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara County
  • Very slow-growing and can live up to 100 years
  • Distinguished by the needles on the branches being in bunches of five
  • Six-inch (15 cm) pinecones

Map- 5100 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013

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The New Shelter Island Boat Launch Ramp

shelter island featured image san diego bay

About a month ago, when we were “allowed” (I am not bitter) to leave the house, my daughters and I set off to San Diego. Towards the end of the day, we found ourselves over at San Diego Bay and decided to check out Shelter Island. I was anxious to see how the new Shelter Island boat launch ramp turned out, and I have pictures to prove it!

Shelter Island has always been a family favorite. We have been coming here ever since my children were small. It has a beautiful walkway that runs parallel to the Bay. It is also a prime spot to watch the boats and military ships entering and exiting San Diego Bay.  I have written extensively about San Diego Bay (San Diego Bay-A Photo Tour), as well as the Shelter Island boat launch ramp, so if you would like more in-depth information, press on the above links.

San Diego Bay’s New and Improved Launch Ramp

Shelter Island sign san diego bay

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Southern California Native Plants

Pechanga River back country stream

So what did you do during Quarantine 2020? Well, I spent many, many hours exploring the fields behind my neighborhood. I went hunting for native plants and wildflowers! Would you like to see what I saw? Down below, I have listed all of the Southern California native plants that I observed from March to July.

I had a lot of time on my hands, and I thought now would be an excellent time to get more familiar with the native plants in my area. Did you know that San Diego County has the highest biodiversity anywhere in the continental United States?

Yes! California hosts over 6500 species, subspecies, and varieties of plants, with 222 of these that are designated as rare, endangered, or threatened.

I live about one mile from the San Diego Border,  so even though technically Temecula is in southwest Riverside County, let’s pretend.

So, where did I see all of these lovely plants? Behind my neighborhood, there is an undeveloped area that lies just outside of the Pechanga Indian Reservation. There is a dry riverbed that runs parallel to two golf courses, which are both owned by Pechanga.

Down below I have provided a Google Map of the area that has become my second home these past 5 months.

Temecula plant ID trails native plants
Red Line=Observation Area

There are several biomes to explore here-

  • Grasslands
  • Coastal Sage Scrub
  • Chaparral
  • Southern Oak Woodland
  • Serpentine

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San Diego Shark Sightings

San Diego Shark Sightings Featured Image

Seeing how I have been homebound during this unprecedented worldwide quarantine (I am sure you can relate), I had the time to do a bit of shark research. I have always wondered how often sharks are seen off the coast of San Diego. Through the years, I have heard rumors, but seeing that I had a bunch of time on my hands, I set out to find all that I could about San Diego shark sightings and encounters that happen off the coastline.

Sharks have always fascinated me ever since I was a little girl. In fact, my very first scientific report was on the hammerhead shark in fourth grade.

hammerhead shark san diego shark sightings

There is something so powerful and alluring about sharks that tug deep at your primal soul. The coldness of the eyes and the methodic tail movements that propel them through the water always captures my attention and imagination every time. I mean, just the fact that sharks have been around for over 400 million years, blows me away!

But, I digress.

My mind was running wild while reading over all of the fascinating shark encounter reports. It was a welcome reprieve to get away from all of the chaos that is happening in the world right now.

So, I thought, why not document the various shark sightings/ encounters for San Diego County, beach by beach?  It would make for a great addition to my website, as well as for my curiosity.  

Sad News From Santa Cruz, California

While I was writing this article, something truly tragic happened off the coast of Northern California at 1:30  pm on May 11.

On the northern end of Monterey Bay, Ben Kelly,  26-years-old, was attacked and killed by a shark while surfing. The tragedy took place 100 yards  (91 meters) from shore off Sand Dollar Beach at Manresa State Beach, Santa Cruz.

Kelly was surfing with a friend, who stated that they were able to swim back to shore, but they could not stop the bleeding.

It was also noted that this area is notorious for juvenile great white shark sightings and is referred to as “Shark Park.”

But a juvenile did not attack Ben, as experts reported the shark to have been larger than 10 feet.

What Type of Sharks Are Found off the Coast of San Diego County?

Surfing Terramar San Diego Shark Sightings
Terramar Beach

Before I get into all of the critical shark sighting data that I have uncovered, I thought I would first off make a list of possible sharks that are seen in and around San Diego waters.

To go one step further, I have separated them into two groups, Coastal, and Pelagic.  Down below are the definitions given to simplify the difference between the two.

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Are Any San Diego Beaches Open Yet? (Updated May 2)

san diego beaches open featured image

Every morning that I have been waking up this past month, I have to keep reminding myself that this is not a dream, almost the entire World is on lockdown. The first question that comes to mind every day is- are any San Diego beaches open yet?

North Crystal pier surfers san diego beaches open
Pacific Beach

It has been a surreal experience, and I am quite confident that all of you reading this, concur. I am not going to lie. The inhibition of travel to the coast hit me the hardest, and I even work in the restaurant business.

I lost my job temporarily (we hope) on March 15. Also, losing my job didn’t hit me as hard as not being able to go to the beach, or in other words, being told to stay in my home with restricted travel limits. Every day, I would scour the internet to find any positive moves to correct this disastrous decision to cut off the coast to the population. You can read up-to-date information here, which includes linked sources.

Well, enough of my rantings. Are any of the San Diego beaches open yet? Let’s take a look at what I have found.

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