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Nature in Southern California Beach Communities
Santa Monica Bay...home of worldclass beach cities
California vacationers enjoy sailboats and ships that stitch the waters and the mists as they float along the shore. The Santa Monica Bay is a quiet beach vacationer's haven with modest waves most of the year, protected from the full frontal pounding of the strong Pacific Ocean storms that drive waves to the Southern California beaches.
California's Pacific Ocean is more than a wilderness, it is also a channel of transportation, the center of a robust fishing industry, and the setting for worldclass California tourism destinations such as state parks, camping, beach vacations -- the golden "California Adventure".
Southern California marinas, wharfs and piers offer landing spots for native birds and exotic creatures of all shapes and sizes...as well as boats and planes and ships...even pipelines that move oil products around the world.
California residents and tourists mix and mingle in the quaint malls and streets of gift shops, aquariums, restaurants and service businesses that cater to life in California's paradise...even if for a trip of a day or a weekend. Los Angeles, California is the "capital of the world" and offers tourism adventures more robust than any city in America.
Manhattan Beach and Redondo BeachManhattan Beach and Redondo Beach are two popular Los Angeles area communities that have cultivated unique beach cultures for the traveler's fun and relaxation. Whether your prescription for a California beach getaway involves whaling tours or massage with any of a number of cultural twists...the dense Los Angeles urban beach communities can deliver adventure in the wilds of state parks for camping to the sophisticated jewels of Hollywood and Malibu.
Exploring the world of Pacific seafood harvests from the ocean can intrigue you with the multicultural reality of Los Angeles. Sea urchins are harvested for Japanese delicacies. Fish of all kinds for the American palette, squid, mollusks and crab...all flow through the Southern California commercial fishing operations that are nestlied in among Orange County and Los Angeles beachside shopping and tourism. Watching the seals and pelicans play in the open marinas is magical. Beware that there are laws protecting wildlife from human activiies: do not feed, do not disturb, do not collect. But please observe and appreciate the diversity, behaviors and beauty!
Fish and stingrays, among many other underwater neighbors are visible in the aquariums (Long Beach and San Pedro have wonderful aquariums for tourists and residents of all ages), but hard to see in the wilds of California. Take a look at some of the fish in California waters at the Department of Fish and Game website.
The urban location of many Southern California beaches brings a special opportunity with it...this exotic creature is difficult to identify until you get close. Can you guess what it is?
El SegundoEl Segundo hosts Dockweiler State Beach, the only RV park on the beach in California -- with on-beach parking of RVs and access to the entire beachside cityfront via a bike trail and of course -- walking! Go off the beach to explore El Segundo and you will discover a small town right out of the 1950s -- complete with quaint shops, downhome food, and butterfly motifs everywhere -- the endangered El Segundo Blue butterfly -- is a protected natural treasure in the El Segundo region. You'll find a beautiful city library with a surrounding park, walkable downtown shops and an airplane museum. You get a unique taste of industrial society because El Segundo provides the region with oil refining, the LAX airport, and Hyperion water treatment plants. There's a little smell occasionally, but access to urban American complexity is a fascinating peek into what's behind the water from your tap, the gas in your car, your flight around the world... and so much more! This vacation spot is a man's delight, for sure!
Beach volleyball, surfing, body surfing and wading in the surf are all elegant ways to spend a sunny day at the beach. There is a movement to have beach volleyball accepted as an Olympic sport...but on most beaches, it is played purely for fun and exercise. Bicycle paths also stretch for miles along the beach and this a ribbon of review takes you along the diverse beach communities. Bikes can be rented and roller blading is and skateboarding are alternatives often seen on the bike paths. Walkers are not allowed...besides, its much more fun to walk along the wet sands stretching for miles and miles along the surfline.
Playa del Rey
Playa del Rey is a sleepy little beachtown snuggled between the Ballona Wetlands and the Santa Monica Bay. Ballona Creek was a major river before the Los Angeles River was diverted and cut off most of its water flow. The Wetlands are slowly being restored to develop habitat for rare butterflies, small amphibians, mollusks and a wide variety of birds from hummingbirds that love the native plants...to great blue herons, egrets (small and giant), and hawks and meadowlarks and finches and...It's a great place for birdwatching.
Marina del ReyMarina del Rey is the largest marina on the west coast, the port of call for many California travelers. This Los Angeles area marina hosts the largest marina vacation spot for sailboats in the area, and has an enchanting ring of shops and restaurants at water's edge.
Venice BeachVenice Beach, the notorious "bad boy" of Los Angeles beaches, hosts a weekend display of human "variety" -- from bodybuilders to street artists and sand castle afficianados.
Santa Monica, adjacent to the famous Venice Beach, is a more sophisticated city that just happens to have a beach--the Third Street Promenade is an every-weekend festival of music, magic and cultural events...and just across the street is the Santa Monica Pier, site of frequent festivals, music programs and the famous ferris wheel.
Pacific PalisadesThe Palisades along Pacific Coast Highway 1 are lined with the sandy cliffs that cause the infamous mudslides during winter storms.
Follow the beach along Pacific Coast Highway and you discover the magic of mountains tumbling into the ocean at Malibu.
MalibuThe single strand of beachfront homes -- from modest to mansions -- extends for more than ten miles. From the Malibu City Park, you see the high uplands that are natural communities of cacti and wildflowers...sweeping down to the rocky tidepools harboring sea urchins, anemones, tiny fish, crabs, shrimp and mollusks of many sizes and shapes. Tidepooling is a wonderful way to get close to the wildlife in the ocean. Rocky communities can be manmade, such as jetties and wharf pilings. Natural tidepools are found in areas such as Malibu, where mountains tumble into the ocean, and where mountain streams carry rocks into the ocean. Some natural rock beds are thrust up from the ocean floor. Not only are the native animals fascinating...but the plants as well. Forests of kelp are seen offshore as brown strands...these "trees" of the ocean can grow as tall as trees on land.
Photos: 2005 Copyright Carolyn Allen. All rights reserved. You are welcome to link to these articles.
For more articles about ENJOYING NATUREBotanical Garden Links
California Poppy Reserve
The Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium
California Poppy Reserve