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OB observed from its landmark concrete pier

There are piers and then there is the Ocean Beach pier. Built for public pleasure in 1966, the pier is a viewing platform to life along our beautiful coast.
There are piers and then there is the Ocean Beach pier. Built for public pleasure in 1966, the pier is a viewing platform to life along our beautiful coast.
Kenneth Brantingham

Ocean Beach is the quintessential California beach community of lore with a white sand beach, surfers, and a laid back bohemian attitude. Small, encompassing just 1.2 square miles of the City of San Diego, "OB" is wedged between Point Loma to the south and Mission Bay to the north. It's official population count is just under 10,000 but the streets swell with visitor activity most every day of the year. An estimated 500,000 come through here each year to walk the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier.

A formidable landmark in humble Ocean Beach; a pier stretching over a third of a mile.
Kenneth Brantingham

To say the pier is immense is an understatement; it's wide enough for large utility vehicles and long enough for joggers to work up a sweat before reaching the end. At 1,971 feet, it holds the record for being the longest concrete pier in the world and it's the second longest pier on the west coast.

For almost 50 years the OB pier has withstood an untold number of punishing Pacific storms. Tempests bringing 15 to 20 foot waves have been known to crest over the pier. The storms pass and the pier remains.

Built for anglers in 1966, the pier still remains a popular fishing spot. It's almost half mile of length provides plenty of room for the dozens that fish here daily. If that's not enough room, the pier is T-shaped at the end allowing for two significant extensions. The south branch is 360 feet with a bend at the middle. The north branch is straight and reaches 193 feet to its end.

The fishing here is very good and the catch is edible. Commonly caught fish include calico bass, bonito, mackerel, various crabs and sharks. The majority fish the main artery, towards the shallows, and before the T split. As one veteran fisherman repeats, "use small bait and not too deep." Live bait is preferred though store bought sardines will do the trick.

Even for the well initiated, Ocean Beach and its pier has most of the coastal pleasures. On almost any given day dolphins can be spotted around the shelter of the pier. Listen as they exhale upon surfacing. Seals pop up almost anywhere. Groups of brown pelicans, a bird once endangered to the point of extinction, fly freely inches above the water while in formation.

This awkward looking bird soars along the pier in search of live fish to dive on. It will start from mid-air, spread its wings like a corsair fighter plane and plummet head first into the water. It emerges with a single fish that it stows away in its pouch that can hold up to three gallons of water and fish.

Nearby is the western gull, a bird always around when there's food. They come at the pelican in pairs for a free meal. These beautiful but troublesome birds are relentless in their pursuit for unattended bait.

When the bait runs out or is snatched up by a gull, head over to the bait shop located mid-span on the pier. Next door is the Walk on Water (WOW) Café for a full menu of American and Mexican dishes including a kids meal and desert offerings.

Like most fishing piers, there is dried bait everywhere, unidentifiable stains on the benches, and some trash. A crew seems to always be present cleaning up. The atmosphere is safe and there is large contingent of walkers and strolling middle-aged locals. The concrete surface is ideal for mobility scooters, wheelchairs, and rollators.

At the foot of the pier are tide pools that stretch down the coast. These are easily accessible by taking the stairs down to the boardwalk. Parking is also located here and if you arrive early you may find a spot. Always exit through Newport Avenue where the funky character of Ocean Beach blooms in the way of small eclectic businesses.

Ocean Beach Municipal Pier
1950 Abbott St
San Diego, CA 92107

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