Dog athletes surf big waves at Imperial Beach!

Dogs and their human pals arrive at the big surfing competition.
Dogs and their human pals arrive at the big surfing competition.

I’d never seen a dog surf in my entire life. Not until today.

Now I’ve seen a whole pack of dogs surfing.

Yes, I have to admit it. I couldn’t resist heading down to the big Surfdog event at Imperial Beach today. This year it was sponsored by Unleashed by Petco. In the past it was called Loews Coronado Bay Surf Dog Competition.

What? Some of you have never seen a dog athlete mount a surfboard and skillfully ride mighty ocean breakers?

Seeing is believing…

It's the epic Surfdog event everyone has waited for!
It’s the epic Surfdog summer event everyone has waited for!
Finishing touches put on a sand sculpture at Imperial Beach.
Finishing touches are put on a sand sculpture at Imperial Beach.
This dog can hardly wait to watch the intense action!
This dog can hardly wait to watch the intense animal action!
Information boards outline the various heats in the surf contest.
Information boards outline the various heats in the big surf contest.
Announcer readies for incredible pooch performances.
Announcer readies for some incredible pooch performances.
The VIP section fills and so does the beach and pier.
The VIP section fills and so does the beach and pier.
Dogs and non-dogs at water's edge have a great spot to watch.
Dogs and non-dogs at water’s edge have a great place to watch.
These guys want a great spot on the pier to view the action.
These guys want a great spot on the pier to view the action.
Everyone is ready for the first freestyle heat!
Everyone is ready for the first exciting freestyle heat!
This fellow doesn't seem to know what's going on.
This little fellow doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.
Surfing contestants mount their surfboards waiting for the horn.
Surfing contestants mount their surfboards waiting for the starting horn.
The crowd favorite, a superstar, poses for my camera.
The crowd favorite, a genuine superstar, poses for my camera.
The horn blows and the first fifteen minute heat begins!
The horn blows and the first fifteen minute heat begins!
The crowd converges toward the water in disbelief.
The crowd converges on the ocean in disbelief.
One four-legged athlete is already out near the breakers.
One four-legged athlete is already out near the breakers.
Here come two canine athletes showing great form!
Here come two canine athletes showing great form!
Steady as she goes!
Steady as she goes!
Hot dogging it and hanging twenty!
Hot dogging it and hanging twenty!
Wow, those amazing surfers are absolutely inhuman!
Wow, those incredible, amazing surfers are absolutely inhuman!
Thousands enjoy Unleashed by Petco's surf dog event!
Thousands enjoy Unleashed by Petco’s surf dog event!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Pacific Beach boardwalk down to Mission Beach.

Beginning my walk south from Crystal Pier along boardwalk.
Beginning my walk south from Crystal Pier along the boardwalk.

Now please walk with me as I head south down the Pacific Beach boardwalk. We’re starting at Crystal Pier and going all the way to Hamel’s down in Mission Beach. It’s one of the most amazing walks (or bike rides) in all of the world!

Cool octopus art made of tile, stones and shells.
Cool octopus art made of tile, stones and shells.

This bit of artwork was next to the walkway right by the pier.

Folks head toward a shark and big ice cream cone!
Folks head toward a hungry shark and big ice cream cone!
Youth hostel by Pacific Beach boardwalk has sunny mural.
Youth hostel by Pacific Beach boardwalk has a sunny mural.
A small backyard is paradise on the beach!
A small backyard is paradise on the beach!
Colorful surfboards by beach contain happy messages.
Colorful surfboards by beach contain happy messages.
Fish tacos are a San Diego specialty!
Fish tacos are a San Diego specialty!
Shells and boogie boards line the boardwalk for passing tourists.
Shells and boogie boards line the boardwalk for passing tourists.
Just a sample of what you'd see while walking along the beach.
Just a sample of what you’d see while walking along the beach.
Looking out toward the blue Pacific Ocean.
Looking out toward umbrellas and the blue Pacific Ocean.
Several camps on the sand teach people to surf.
Several camps on the sand teach people to surf.
Kids learning to surf file along carrying surfboards.
Kids learning to surf file along carrying surfboards.
People chat as a lifeguard watches the beach from a tower.
People chat as a lifeguard watches the beach from a tower.
Colorful beach toys left on the concrete sea wall.
Colorful beach toys left forgotten on the concrete sea wall.
Beautiful and unusual homes line the boardwalk.
Beautiful and unusual houses line the boardwalk.
The Surf Rider building includes a huge surfboard!
The Surf Rider building includes a huge surfboard!
Bicycles are a very popular mode of transportation.
Bicycles are a very popular mode of transportation.
I reached the Hamel's castle surf shop in Mission Beach!
I reached the Hamel’s castle surf shop in Mission Beach!
Lady looks through a high stack of surfboards.
Lady looks through a high stack of surfboards.
Cool mural in alley shows a roller coaster.
Cool mural in alley shows a roller coaster.

This mural in the alley behind Hamel’s shows a roller coaster. Is there a roller coaster nearby in Mission Beach? Yes, indeed! We’ll visit Belmont Park in my next blog post!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Walking out on Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach.

Archway of Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages at end of Garnet Avenue.
Archway of Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages at end of Garnet Avenue.

Many years ago (decades actually), I used to occasionally go fishing from Crystal Pier. It’s located in Pacific Beach, at the west end of Garnet Avenue, which I strolled along in my last blog post.

While it isn’t a very long pier, it’s definitely one hundred percent cool. One reason is because fishing from Crystal Pier is both free and amazingly productive. While I never seemed to catch anything but mackerel, I remember seeing nice catches of bonito, rock fish, sea bass, barracuda, guitar fish, sharks and even halibut! (One nice thing about pier fishing in San Diego is you legally don’t need a fishing license.)

Why else is this pier super cool? Because there are small cottages built right on it! The historic Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages was built in 1930. Once known as Pickering’s Pleasure Pier, for a short time the privately owned pier featured a Crystal Ballroom and carnival midway out at its end!

If I were a tourist visiting San Diego, I’d absolutely want to stay here. At night the pier is closed to the public, and you can lie in bed listening to the ocean waves below. During the day you have easy access to the famous Pacific Beach boardwalk, which I’ll show you in my next blog post!

One of the small, quaint cottages actually on the pier!
One of the small, quaint cottages actually on the pier!
Looking along the short pier past fishermen and visitors.
Looking along the short pier past fishermen and visitors.
Turning back eastward toward the cottages.
Turning back eastward toward the cottages.
Surfers below Crystal Pier floating and waiting on their surfboards.
Surfers below Crystal Pier floating and waiting on their surfboards.
This surfer caught a good ride on a nice wave.
This surfer caught a good ride on a nice wave.
This pic shows fishing, surfing and the beach.
This pic shows fishing, surfing and the beach.
Leaving Crystal Pier, to walk down the Pacific Beach boardwalk.
Leaving Crystal Pier, to walk down the Pacific Beach boardwalk.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Cool urban art on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.

Cool art on a music store window on Garnet Avenue.
Cool art on a music store window on Garnet Avenue.

Yesterday I went for a very long walk through Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, two extremely popular beach destinations just a few miles north of downtown San Diego.

I began by walking west along Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, from around Ingraham Street all the way to the beautiful and historic Crystal Pier. This stretch contains more bars, tattoo parlors, smoke shops and swimwear stores than just about anywhere else in Southern California. It’s a young, hip, beachy sort of place, that’s mostly laid back and unpretentious. You’ll see bikinis and skateboarders and tourists and families and surfboards atop cars and under arms just about everywhere you go.

You’ll also see a lot of very cool urban art: on walls, on windows, on rooftops, in alleys…all over the place! Here are some random pics I took as I walked westward in the sunshine…

Aloha Spirit mural on side of Pacific Beach building.
Aloha Spirit mural on side of Pacific Beach building.
Surfers are a major theme in this popular beach city.
Surfers and the ocean are major themes in this popular beach community.
Mural shows lifeguard climbing a tower among palms.
Mural shows lifeguard climbing a tower among palms.
Street art between two buildings on Garnet Avenue.
Funky street art between two buildings on Garnet Avenue.
Pacific Beach public art features a large seagull.
Pacific Beach public art features a large seagull.
Street art in an alley behind a tattoo parlor.
Street art in an alley behind a tattoo parlor.
Hubcaps and tiles add flavor to a colorful local eatery.
Hubcaps and tiles add flavor to a colorful local eatery.
Another tattoo parlor embellished with urban art.
Another tattoo parlor embellished with bold swirls of urban art.
Photo mural on one wall shows old Crystal Pier and Garnet Avenue.
Photo mural on a wall shows old Crystal Pier at west end of Garnet Avenue.
Sunny Pacific Beach has a sunny utility box.
Sunny Pacific Beach has a sunny utility box.
Images of surfers and beach scenes are everywhere.
Images of surfers and beach scenes are everywhere.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

The Spirit of Imperial Beach surfer sculpture.

Bronze surfer holds surfboard in Imperial Beach.
Bronze surfer holds surfboard in Imperial Beach.

A short walk north of the Imperial Beach pier takes you to this delightful sculpture. The Spirit of Imperial Beach is 18 feet high and incorporates many fun elements. The sandcastle at its base and the child with a pail recall the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, which used to be held yearly in Imperial Beach. (Several years ago the competition was replaced by the Sun and Sea Festival.)

Child rides a fish near the beach.
Child rides a fish near the beach.
Spirit of Imperial Beach by James A. Wasil.
Spirit of Imperial Beach by James A. Wasil.
Crabs, shells, fish, sandcastle and girl with a pail.
Crabs, shells, fish, sandcastle and girl with a pail.
Closer look at amazing detail.
Closer look at amazing detail.
Spirit of Imperial Beach sculpture is north of the pier.
Spirit of Imperial Beach sculpture is just north of the pier.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Surfers ride waves near Imperial Beach pier.

Surfer rides a wave just below the Imperial Beach pier.
Surfer rides a wave just below the Imperial Beach pier.

Wow! Check out this first cool pic! Did that come out great, or what?

I’m in the middle of my week off from work, and today I went to Coronado again and biked down the Silver Strand to Imperial Beach. I’ve got more photos than you can shake a stick at!

What a beautiful day. I stood on the pier at a spot between the beach and breaking waves and tried to photograph a group of surfers below. Most of action was too far away for my little camera, but a few pics seem worth sharing…

Surfers wait for the perfect wave near Imperial Beach pier.
Surfers wait for the perfect wave near Imperial Beach pier.
Surfer gets ready to go for a ride.
Surfer gets ready to go for a ride.
Surfer riding a nice wave on a sunny day.
Surfer riding a nice wave on a sunny day.
Guy on surfboard just coasting along the foamy ocean surface.
Guy on surfboard just coasting along the foamy ocean surface.
No fishing in the surf zone on Imperial Beach pier.
No fishing in the surf zone on Imperial Beach pier.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.