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 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®.”
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.
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!”
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.
If everybody had an ocean
Across the U. S. A.
Then everybody’d be surfin’
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!