Although I’ve been too sick to swim, I’ve been with it enough to go fishing for new beaches to swim at. The coast between Pismo and Avila is full of all kinds of little coves with tiny beaches to explore. The trick is figuring out 1. where they are and 2. how to get to them. Last week I took my lunch break at Dinosaur Caves Park at the south end of Shell Beach. While out on one of the benches on the cliffs I noticed a little slice of sand tucked back against a cliff underneath the frontage road. All the years I’ve lived here I never knew it existed because you can’t see it from the road, or even the sidewalk above it. I saw someone walking around on the sand and didn’t see a kayak anywhere so I figured it must have a trail or staircase attached to it somewhere. I didn’t have enough time at lunch to investigate, but back at the office I took a quick peek at google maps and figured out that there’s some public access at the hotel above it.

On Saturday I went on a mission to go check it out in person. There’s no street parking along the road that goes past it so I parked over at the Dinosaur Caves Park’s parking lot and walked over to the Shelter Cove Lodge. There’s a little paved trail that scoots in front of the hotel and into a nicely manicured area with a gazebo and benches that you can watch the ocean from. After passing the gazebo walkway you’ll find the path that goes down to the beach. You’ve got a steep stair case to contend with and the last 10 feet is really just crumbly dirt with a hand rail. I measured it out on Google Maps and it’s about 650m from the lot to the sand.

Once you get down to the beach… wow… it’s gorgeous! The best part, I had the place all to myself for about an hour and a half!

The sand is a little coarse, and there’s not a lot of it. I went at high tide and there was maybe 3-5 meters of dry sand along the beach. I spent a bunch of time watching the water blast off the big rock formation on the south side of the beach and surge through the rock arch beneath it. There was a decent swell and the ocean was surging a bit here and there. There was a break off to the left amongst the rocks but the beach itself didn’t get much in the way of waves. I asked a buddy of mine that grew up surfing here about it and he called it “Little Hawaii” and said it’s a fickle surf spot but can be good under the right conditions.

On a flat glassy day I think this would be a sweet swim spot. The water seems to have the potential to have fairly good visibility and there’s kelp here and there which could make for some interesting views if you dive underwater a bit. I talked with Niel about it today and we’re going to have to do a few reconnaissance swims to figure out the spot and find all the rocks and hazards so we can keep it safe and fun. In the meantime I’m going to keep playing with Google Maps to see what other excitement I can find :)

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