The Imperial Beach Fishing Pier is an iconic attraction in the South Bay. During the summer you can meet a bevy of fishermen and a stroll during winter might mean meeting up with pelicans over 3 feet tall.
According to Julie Walke, author of Imperial Beach: A Pictorial History, the Imperial Beach pier is 1,853 feet long and is the town’s third pier. Originally built in 1909 by the South San Diego Investment Company, it was 500 feet long. It was built to bring investors to the beach and at first it was named the Edwards Wave Motor Pier because massive machinery was built in the seaward end. The mechanical device was designed to convert wave motion into electricity for the growing town of Imperial Beach. However, the device never worked properly and was removed two years later.
The pier collapsed in 1949 from ocean storms and age and again received a final blow during the storms and high tides in January 1953. A political effort to build a new recreation pier began in 1961 when a small group of citizens called the South Bay Anglers lobbied city officials.
In 1962 voters passed a $300,000 bond issue and the California Wildlife Conservation Board contributed another $125,000. The new 1,200 foot pier had a 315 foot T-shape on the seaward end that housed a restroom, bait and tackle concession, drinking fountains and fish-cleainign stations. The Conservation Board also constructed an underwater rock reef off the end of the pier to attract fish. The pier opened on November 23, 1963 and 3,000 people came to catch fish on that day.
In 1980 a winter storm broke off the southern portion of the T-shape end of the pier, leaving a wide gap. It was rebuilt in 1982, but heavy winter storms in 1983 and 18-foot waves tore off 190 feet of the western end of the 1,100 foot pier. By January 1986 storms washed out several pilings.
Construction of the new pier finished and it opened in March 1989. This is the pier we have today. Particularly famous is the Sandcastle Competition held. The excellent year-round surfing is also famous. The Tijuana Estuary Visitor’s Center is nearby. But watch out! Although it rains infrequently here, when it does, the sewer from Tijuana spills over and sludge tends to land right at this beach.
Address: 10 Evergreen Ave, Imperial Beach, CA 91932