Sunset Cliffs, San Diego
Sunset Cliffs lies south of Ocean
Beach and has several beaches below. Named for its exquisite
sunset vistas, Sunset Cliffs Park encompasses 68 acres of bluffs
and walking paths high above the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
With its rugged coastline and panoramic views, this area is popular
with surfers, ocean-gazers, and folks who like to cruise Sunset
Cliffs Boulevard, which runs the length of the cliffs. The drive
along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, which begins at Adair Street and
continues south to Ladera Street, offers breathtaking views and
photo opportunities. It also makes a nice bike ride or walk, and
it’s a great place to watch birds. You can see migrating California
gray whales during the winter months from high on the bluffs.
Garbage Beach at Ladera Street is named for
the large amounts of odiferous kelp among its rocks. Built-in stairs
lead down the cliff to this beach. Beware; the descent is very steep.
Two other beaches — No Surf Beach (Hill and Froud Streets
on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard) and New Break Beach (south of Point
Loma Nazarene College) — have no identified route leading
down to the water’s edge. Trails to these beaches exist, but
finding them can be challenging.
Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, Parking, Map, (Area Map)
Sunset Cliffs is not the best choice if you
have small children or limited mobility (except for the drive).
Beach access is limited, and beaches are unsafe for small children
because of the unpredictable surf. Also, aside from the parking
areas, this is not a handicap-friendly area.
Beach access at Sunset
Cliffs is no easy feat. It requires a little ingenuity, a lot of
determination, and good timing, since the tide must be low. Be very
careful walking down the paths and never try to climb up the cliffs
— many people have either become hopelessly stuck or died
falling off them. If a trail doesn’t feel safe, find one that
Sunset Cliffs has no lifeguards and only
portable restrooms are available. There’s one public shower
at the corner of Ladera Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Parking
lots are located at the north and south ends of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.
There’s also a lot on Ladera Street and Cornish Drive and
a public lot at the Point Loma Nazarene College campus (Lomaland
Drive). Street parking is plentiful on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.
Sunset Cliffs Directions (Area Map)
Sunset Cliffs Park lies about 1 mile south
of Ocean Beach, a short drive from the airport, downtown, and Mission
Valley. It’s relatively easy to find. The park sits between
Point Loma Nazarene
College to the south and Adair Street to the north along Sunset
Cliffs Boulevard. Take I-8 west; it turns into Sunset Cliffs Boulevard,
which takes you to Sunset Cliffs Park.
Tips For Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs is a rare stretch of Southern
California Coast that has retained much of its natural beauty. With
Ocean Beach just to the North, Sunset Cliffs makes a wonderful weekend
getaway for couples or families. The “Inn
at Sunset Cliffs” is conveniently located at the north
end of the cliffs, close to downtown Ocean Beach.
There is a newly constructed concrete pathway
that runs along the ocean just south of Ocean Beach Pier. We highly
recommend expending the little bit of effort it takes to find the
path. The easiest way is to start from the parking area at the west
end of Newport Avenue. From the parking lot, follow south along
the concrete walk. You’ll go under the pier and then navigate
a small concrete landing. The path starts on the south side of the
landing. Although the path itself is handicap-friendly, getting
there requires assistance.
Don’t miss the eclectic mix of shops
in downtown Ocean Beach, especially “The Black,” hippie-era,
tie-dye-and-incense-filled shop of cool items that take you back
to the days of the Grateful Dead (although many would argue that
those days continue in Ocean Beach). “The Black” is
located on Newport Avenue.
Sunset Cliffs Bike Rides
If you enjoy bike riding, Sunset Cliffs and
Ocean Beach offer several excellent rides for beginners and advanced
San Diego River channel.
Beginners can start at the parking lot located at the south end
of Ocean Beach near Dog Beach. A paved bike path runs east from
the parking lot along the San Diego River channel. It goes several
miles and provides a nice easy ride for beginners or families with
Pt. Loma / Cabrillo National Monument.
Intermediate and advanced riders looking for a longer ride can start
anywhere near Sunset Cliffs or Ocean Beach. From your starting point,
ride to Sunset Cliffs Boulevard south until you see either Point
Loma Avenue or Novara Street. Turn left and ride up the hill on
either street (Novara turns into Santa Barbara at the top of the
hill). You’ll soon intersect Catalina Boulevard, where you’ll
turn right. Catalina heads south up the hill toward Cabrillo
National Monument. You’ll soon enter the gate ($3 fee as of 2010) and continue
to the top of the hill to the monument. This is a great place to
take a break and enjoy the monument’s spectacular views, historical
buildings, and exhibits.
For a little extra riding and hill-work,
take the road that heads down to the tide pools, which are great
for exploring sea life. End your ride by retracing your route back
to Sunset Cliffs or Ocean Beach.
Restaurants Near Sunset Cliffs
Gallaghers Pub & Grill, 5046 Newport Ave. 619.222-5300. Irish Pub with live music and St. Patty's Day party.
Kaiserhof German. 2253 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. A taste of Germany in San Diego and a long-time local favorite.
Kirin Sushi. 4111 Voltaire St. OB Local favorite. Fresh sushi served daily.
Ranchos Mexican Cuisine. 1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Very healthy, very good authentic mexican cuisine. Lots of vegetarian selections.
Voted best burger 2002 San Diego Magazine. 5010 Newport Avenue.
For more great Ocean Beach and Sunset Cliffs restaurants check out the San Diego Reader online or pick up a copy at a local convenience store.
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