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 given to the high tide, as people enjoy seeing how far the ocean will reach on land.
I love going to the beach during the lowest tides, so I can examine what is usually covered by the ocean and have rare access to beaches that are typically not accessible. And let me tell you, today is one of those days.
Yes! My girls and I explored two caves at the La Jolla Underwater Park!
Now I must say right up front that getting to these caves is no easy feat, and 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.
Boy, what a year! Ironically, did you know that the last time my husband and I were at the beach before this nightmare of a year was on a King Tide? We experienced the extreme low tide on January 12 at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, which 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.
(Updated dates for 2021, 2022, and 2023 are below! All times refer to San Diego, so add ten more minutes if you are in the Los Angeles area.)
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. I am not a geologist; therefore, please be patient with me. If I make an incorrect claim, do not hesitate to correct me 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 tremendously, but I have left them below. I encourage you to check them out!
Let’s take a trip to San Onofre State Beach (my favorite beach in San Diego) and investigate the Cristianitos fault line. As a bonus, I will highlight other unique geological features here at this fabulous State Beach.
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?
The California spiny lobster season is upon us! Historically, the season opens on Saturday at 6 a.m. before the first Wednesday in October; this year, that falls on September 29 and closes on March 22, 2024. Lobster cards, which cost $11.62 and are due by April 30, 2023… more information is below.) Though I have never fished lobster, I know where they hang out in San Diego.
Down below, I have provided information on the California spiny lobster fishing regulations, a map of 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 overview of the California spiny lobster life cycle, and a few interesting facts will help you better understand 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.
The other day I was thinking about the Beach Boys and how they put several San Diego beaches on the map. Did you know that five of the fifteen beaches are found in San Diego? I thought it would be enjoyable to take a closer look at the lyrics of Surfin USA.
First of all, most websites that provide the song lyrics misspell two top-rated surfing beaches, so I am here to be the official spell-checker for you.
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
Today I would like to share with you all one of my most awe-inspiring places to go to in 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 you will love it here, especially if you appreciate a wild and undeveloped beach, which 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?
Below, I have provided a campground map to understand the terrain and location better.
Southern California has been experiencing a terrible heatwave for the past week, so I went to the coast for much-needed relief! My girls and I decided to head over to Oceanside Harbor Beach. While heading to the restroom, I looked at the Oceanside Harbor boat launch. Below, I will showcase some of the highlights of San Diego’s North County-only Ocean boat launch ramp.
First, I have a complete informational post that lists all of the San Diego Launch Ramps. (Click on the link for more information)
Oceanside Harbor Map
Oceanside Harbor is 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? If you live in North County, San Diego, then it is, yes?
But is it?
Below, I will showcase the west side of Oceanside Harbor, where the boat launch is situated. I love this ramp because everything is close to each other. But if you think about it, this feature could be a negative attribute if it is busy.
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!
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 Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast of California. It is a small agricultural town that the Vandenberg Airforce Base surrounds. I informed my husband that if we were to visit, my one desire was to go to the ocean. So we went to Ocean Beach Park in Lompoc, CA, and I am here to share.
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 to go to Las Vegas during Quarantine in 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 having the family meet us over at Ocean Beach Park for a pizza picnic would be an outstanding idea.
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.
Last month, my husband and I could visit his family north of Santa Barbara County. I was super excited because we could 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 I gasped when we approached the tree! You can not deny the presence of this giant.
Let’s take a look close and personally, shall we?
Inland Population- Pinus torreyana
Santa Rosa Island- Pinus torreyana var. insularis
coastal sage scrub
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
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; 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) and the Shelter Island boat launch ramp, so if you would like more in-depth information, press on the above links.
So what did you do during Quarantine 2020? Well, I spent many, many hours exploring the fields behind my neighborhood, and I went hunting for native plants and wildflowers! Would you like to see what I saw? Below, I have listed all of the Southern California native plants 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 in the continental United States?
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 is an undeveloped area that lies just outside the Pechanga Indian Reservation, and a dry riverbed runs parallel to two golf courses owned by Pechanga.
Below, I have provided a Google Map of the area that has become my second home these past five months.
Seeing how I have been homebound during this unprecedented Worldwide Lockdown (I am sure you can relate), I had the time to do some 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 I could about San Diego shark sightings and encounters that happened off the coastline.
Sharks have fascinated me since I was a little girl, and my first scientific report was on the hammerhead shark in fourth grade.
Something so powerful and alluring about sharks tugging 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. I mean, 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 the fascinating shark encounter reports. It was a welcome reprieve to escape the world’s chaos.
So, why not document the various shark sightings/ encounters in 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 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 occurred 100 yards (91 meters) from the shore of Sand Dollar Beach at Manresa State Beach, Santa Cruz.
Kelly was surfing with a friend, who said they could swim back to shore but could not stop the bleeding.
Experts also noted that this area is notorious for juvenile great white shark sightings and is called “Shark Park.”
But a juvenile did not attack Ben, as experts reported the shark to have been larger than 10 feet.
What Types of Sharks Are Found off the Coast of San Diego County?
Before I get into all the critical shark sighting data I have uncovered, I thought I would first make a list of possible sharks seen in and around San Diego waters.
To go one step further, I have separated them into Coastal and Pelagic groups. Down below are the definitions given to simplify the difference between the two.
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?
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.
It has taken me a bit to tell you that the grunion, Southern California’s infamous fish, mating season is upon us! Why? Well, at this time, all the San Diego County beaches were closed; thus, all citizens were barred from experiencing the coastline, so I hesitated. The Department of Fish and Wildlife even took the chart off its website, and their reasoning was not to encourage people to come to the beach and witness this phenomenon. Below, I present the San Diego grunion run scheduled for May- September, anticipating that the beaches will be open on May 1st (fingers crossed).
First, I will give you a little background information on why this is such a spectacular event, followed by my recommendation on the best beaches in San Diego that would be ideal for witnessing the grunion mating dance.
What is a Grunion Run, and Why is it a Big Deal?
The grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) is a type of smelt that is small, silvery, and about the size of a sardine. These fish are only found off the coast of Southern California, from San Luis Obispo down to Northern Baja California.
In this time of unprecedented beach restrictions across the globe, I thought it would be the right time to do a little more research concerning being able to experience the beach while we all “shelter-in-place.” How do you ask? Well, I am sure that the above title gives it away. Down below, I have found some of the best live-streaming beaches cams out there.
So why did I choose these particular beaches? No apparent reason. I would be happy looking at a small wave pool at this point. But, no, I chose these specific beaches because of the aesthetics and how they made me feel. A few webcams have ads, but you only have to wait 15 seconds until it is refreshed again.
I hope that you enjoy them all just as much as I do. On a side note, I have also included a few other beaches from all around the world. Which one will you find the most exciting? Have a look!