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The Royalty of San Diego’s South Bay: Imperial Beach

Posted by Jody on February 19, 2014

Imperial Beach, California – Heading for the pier.

When I think of Imperial Beach, California, I think of everything surfing: from genuine Southern California surfers riding the waves to the community’s public art, the outdoor “Surfboard Museum” and even the surfboard shaped bus stop benches!  This town always brings to mind classic Beach Boys surfin’ tunes.

Imperial Beach, California

Imperial Beach has so much more to offer than surfing, though.  Here you’ll find 3 ½ miles of clean, white, sandy beach stretching southward to the US-Mexico border. With splendid views of San Diego and Coronado to the north, somehow Imperial Beach never seems crowded. It’s less than 13 miles from Downtown San Diego, so Greg and I are always happy to either make the drive or hop on the bus and head on down to this lovely stretch of beach. If we had to choose, we’d likely tell you that this is our favorite strand of San Diego’s “South Bay.”

According to the their official website, the City of Imperial Beach is “the most southwesterly city in the continental United States.  Flanked by the Pacific Ocean and South San Diego Bay, our town is nestled between miles of uncrowded beaches, big surf and unparalleled open space and wetlands teeming with wildlife. Because this town is one of the last untouched beach towns in Southern California, we are known as Classic Southern California®.”

Imperial Beach, California

Beachcombing is lots of fun here. We always find something interesting on the sands of Imperial Beach.  Once Greg and I came home with a lovely collection of multicolored Donax clam shells, very typical of Southern California beaches. The last time we visited, we found large, heavy clam shells, sand dollars and California mussels.

From what I have been able to search out, these sturdy clams are Common Washington Clams (Saxidomus nuttalli), also known as Butter Clams. Our largest Washington Clam find on Imperial Beach measures 4 ¾” wide,  but we have found these particular seashells up to 5 ¼” wide on other South Bay beaches. Their range is from Humbolt Bay, California to northern Baja California.

Imperial Beach Treasures (California)

This area is well-known for year round coastal birdwatching (a printable map of birdwatching areas is available online).  For the botanist,  there is an interesting variety of coastal vegetation, too. Of course, swimming and sunbathing are also very popular pastimes!  With all that Imperial Beach has to offer, I’d say it’s “One Shell of a Find!”

“Spirit of Imperial Beach” by James A. Wasil, 2008

If you’d like to learn about the interesting history of surfing at Imperial Beach and the big wave break “Tijuana Sloughs” that made this area famous in the surfing world, you’ll want to check out “Riders of The Tijuana Sloughs,” at LegendarySurfers.com.

Bus Stop Bench in Imperial Beach, California

Surfin’ USA

If everybody had an ocean
Across the U. S. A.
Then everybody’d be surfin’
Like Californi-a
You’d see ‘em wearing their baggies
Huarachi sandals too
A bushy bushy blonde hairdo
Surfin’ U. S. A.

~Brian Wilson/Chuck Berry

We’d love to hear about your favorite Southern California beach!

~~~

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8 Responses to “The Royalty of San Diego’s South Bay: Imperial Beach”

  1. So I just come home, and you are in my town!. Remarkable!
    Important to showcase Imperial Beach.
    Kudos & cheers, to you~

    • Jody said

      Many thanks, but we’re home now too! Imperial Beach is one of my absolute favorite places! It’s so easy to hop on the bus and head to any of the fabulous strands in your beautiful corner of the world.

  2. Marianne said

    You must travel a lot! I’m not a traveler, but if I could just zap myself somewhere for the day, and zap back, I’d love to visit other places.

    Hugs,
    Marianne

  3. Robyn said

    Hi Jody,

    I always love your posts! By the way, I think your big clams are Pismo Clams — they are common in Imperial Beach, especially if you walk north from town. The Butter Clams are there also (I think you posted a pic of one in the past), but they have more raised ridges and a slightly different shape.

    Thanks for sharing your beach adventures!

  4. Fossillady said

    Imperial Beach sounds a little like our 20 mile stretch of undeveloped Lake Michigan beach front around my home town of Saugatuck, Michigan, one of the last areas seen by the eyes of Pottawatomie and Ottawa Native tribes. Sounds divine . . .

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