Locals and visitors alike often bemoan the fact that old-world California has been lost under a cement sea of commercialization and homogenization which has eroded the once-so-famous California character. While there is some truth to these complaints, islands of “real” California still survive. One of my favorite is Ocean Beach.
For Thomas and me, Ocean beach is a ritual that goes way back. We always start with early-morning coffee and donuts at one of our favorite San Diego institutions, O.B. Donuts. We proclaim O.B. Donuts the best donuts in all of San Diego – it certainly has the most eclectic mix of customers. (Sometimes, in Tibet or Sumba or some other exotic location, I lay awake dreaming of these donuts.)
Clearly, I’m not a morning person
Next, A casual stroll to the pier birdwatching along the way. On a recent five minute walk from O.B. Donuts to the beach, we spotted flocks of red-crowned Amazon parrots, lilac-crowned Amazon parrots, and red-masked parakeets. Closer to the pier, we were rewarded with flocks of California brown pelicans diving into the surf to catch fish. But the wildlife isn’t limited to birds.
Exploring the tide pools below the pier will reveal any number of exotic creatures including my personal favorite, the California sea hare. From the pier itself, within a twenty minute period, we spotted sea lions and a large pod of dolphins. But San Diego’s most common aquatic mammal is most certainly the surfer.
The waves were filled with surfers, experienced and newbie alike, weaving through the waves dodging each other. The most skilled surfers deftly shot through the pilings supporting the pier, although I’m not a hundred percent sure that’s legal.
From the pier, we always divert along the beach up to Newport Ave, the main drag filled with surf shops, breakfast diners, cafes and coffee houses – all of which are very laid back and “California” in the truest sense of the word. Check it out for yourself in the Google street view below. If you explore long enough, you just might spot some parrots.
Use the circle in the upper left-hand corner to rotate, and click the arrows in the street to move forward or sideways. The little box in the upper right-hand corner toggles to full-screen mode.