Ocean Beach (OB)
Ocean Beach, like the other beaches in San Diego, is absolutely beautiful. The soft sand and rushing waves is sure to dissolve your daily anxieties. This beach is popular with the younger crowd (25 year olds), though there are many families with children.
The entire sandy area is about one mile long. Ocean Beach formally starts at the west end of Voltaire Street and runs southward. The north end has a Dog Beach and volleyball nets. The south end of the beach has a pier.
Like La Jolla Shores, OB has fire pits. Be aware that bonfires can be lit after sundown and that only wood and paper can be burned (do not burn garbage). Fire pits, are on a first-come-first-serve basis and there is no way to "reserve" one.
OB beach is beautiful, clean, and manned by lifeguards, so it's as safe as it's going to be. People here enjoy
- frolicking in the water (swim, surf, boogie board),
- playing ball games (football, paddle ball, volley ball, frisbee),
- basking in the sun,
- and all manners of fun-in-the-sun.
In addition to the beach itself, Ocean Beach has other cool features:
- Dog Beach
- the OB Pier
- the OB shopping district
- the OB mentality
Dog Beach is located on the north end of Ocean Beach. It is the first and original leash-free beach for dogs. It is a dream come true for dogs and dog owners. Here, dogs can run leash-free 24 hours a day. Bring some balls, bring a frisbee. Bring your lawn chairs, bring your snacks. The entire family can have fun when Fido can come too! Read more about Dog Beach here.
The OB shopping district along Newport Avenue is a weird mix of "sweets & treats" with "tattoos & taboos". Ocean Beach is hippie haven and the shops reflect that attitude.
Noteworthy is "The Black" (a head shop) which sells tie dye T-shirts, incense, black-light posters, tobacco pipes, and hemp / recreational drugs paraphernalia. Right beside it is The Black Bead which has a kazillion beads and a good selection of wires and chains. Both are must see in order to experience the real OB.
As to the other stores in OB: it's an eclectic mix of ice cream parlor and body-piercing parlor; antique shops, seashell shop; coffee shops, lounges, bars, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and bicycle & surfboard rentals. It seems to be all here - including an international youth hostel. See more here.
The Pier is on the south end of Ocean Beach. At 1,971 feet (601 m) long, it is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. You can fish off the pier (no license required) but please adhere to the rules. Many families bring their children here since fishing is free, it is relatively safe, there's a restaurant/bait shop at the end of the pier, and when tired, one can always go play on the beach. Bonus! See more here.
However, what's happening under the pier? Here, young ones gather to play their band music. Others strut around defining their personal space. This is a rough & tumble area of OB: go about your business and don't linger and become a victim. Shootings and stabbing are not uncommon in this area. When it get's dark - go home.
The OB flavor. The people in OB are generally nice, but there is a certain percentage who are a bit rough at the edges. These people are not crazy and won't pick a fight so as long as you mind your business too. The people who hang out at OB tend to have tatoos on their arms and sometimes all over their back too. It is not unusual to see someone with orange hair and body piercings. But don't be intimidated: these hipsters are just a portion of the population, there's plenty of good people here too; you just don't notice them as much.
Parking Lots are located at:
1) the north end of the beach near Voltaire St with 300 parking spaces;
2) at the base of Santa Monica Street with 70 spaces;
3) at the base of Newport Avenue with 100 parking spaces.
4) Street parking and paid parking lots are also available inland. Public bathrooms are located at the base of Brighton Avenue and at the main lifeguard station.
Summary: Ocean Beach is a beautiful beach and there's lots of interesting features give this beach character unlike that of other San Diego beaches. The Pier is a nice feature: walk on it, fish on it, congregate under it. The hippy shopping district is interesting in an eye-opener sort of way. The people are laid-back and loose. If you are not street-smart, go home before dark. OB is known for evening brawls, scuffles, and occasional stabbings & shootings.