Saturday, December 4, 2021

San Diego: Ocean Beach

One of my first views of the Pacific Ocean. This is the "dog beach" in Ocean Beach - literally a beach for dogs. You can see it was overcast, which is somewhat normal for San Diego beginning around late October or early November. I got pretty lucky though, mostly it cleared off around midday.

(I apologize for posting this out of chronological order - this was the first day of my trip to San Diego)

Until this year, I'd never been to the Pacific Ocean. This needed to be addressed. I made reservations in a San Diego Airbnb two blocks from the beach for late October. The timing wasn't ideal, because this time of year often turns foggy and overcast. I seem to have just missed the clear October weather by a few days, but it was still very much worth it, and most days it cleared off in the afternoon.

Better weather for sunset the following day.


The beach did not disappoint, with cool air and seaweed washing ashore, waves crashing on the breakwater and spraying me with salty water. Since it was a Saturday, there were too many people, but this is to be expected on a weekend, even in the off season.

A classic California scene from the pier at Ocean Beach.


I had no specific expectations of Ocean Beach, but having arrived and walked around for a mile or so, it soon became clear it was a different place than the Atlantic beach towns I've been to before. Upon research, I found out it used to be a hippy town. I don't think I would describe it that way now but despite the abundance of obviously well-funded homeowners, there is a bit of a seedy feel to it and a few interesting-looking people walking around and hanging out in alleys. About every fourth or fifth store front seems to be a liquor store. There was a hand painted sign on the house next door that said, "Ocean Beach: a sunny place for shady people."

The Airbnb, just about a two block walk from the beach. It was adequate, but it's a very old building and there are some gaps around the doors, etc.


The crowd is overall youthful, with an abundance of what I suppose are the modern equivalent of "beach bums." They remind me of the raft guide scene back when I lived my weekends on the whitewater rivers of the Southeast. There are a lot of young people here with hobbies and habits they can't afford. In whitewater, we talked about quitting our jobs and living in a van down by the river. We had "boater trash," is there such a thing as "surfer trash?" Funny. Maybe I'm getting old and grumpy? This is an interesting place but it isn't my scene.

It looks like 800 square feet here goes for up to a million. Yikes! But we are in a housing bubble and we are talking about a very desirable place to live, except for one thing: the air traffic.

There was a lot of this, and I do mean A LOT. Noise, noise, noise.


Ocean Beach is directly under the flight path for the San Diego airport. This means every day, all day, there are large airliners flying over at one or two thousand feet. It's loud. It seemed most every plane I saw was climbing out which means the engines rumble. It slowed down at night but I still awoke a few times over four nights. For that reason, I think if I go back to the area again in the future, I will try to remember not to pick Ocean Beach. There are many other beach towns along the coast of California and I assume most of them do not have that particular problem. I visited the other beach communities of La Jolla and Oceanside. These were more posh, so probably more expensive, but do not have loud air traffic flying over. I also visited Coronado but it is beside the port and has a lot of military air traffic. I'll blog on that later.

Ocean Beach isn't a bad place, and I enjoyed my stay for the most part, but the air traffic is a big negative.


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