Sunken City Adventure

I don’t remember the first time I heard someone tell me California was going to fall into the ocean. For all I know it could have been as a small Midwestern child. Before I ever even contemplated living out here. But…you guys…part of California – PART OF LA! – has already fallen into the ocean. And I know because I’ve been there. And I love it. And I can’t wait to go back again.

I first heard of Sunken City three(?) days ago when my friend Barb invited me to go to there. A bartender told her and her bf fiance Skeet about it. Bartenders know their stuff. Barb looked it up on Yelp.

I think it was on our way down (yesterday) that Barb informed us it was actually illegal to visit this awesome place she had told us about. Something about trespassing. She saved the bit about crawling under the fence and avoiding police attention until we arrived.


The Point Fermin Lighthouse is one of the first things we saw. (We also drove by the Korean Friendship Bell, but we walked up there after visiting the Sunken City, so I’ll talk about that in a bit.)

What I didn’t know when I was standing there calling the lighthouse cute was that it was built in 1874 and was actually “the first navigational light into San Pedro bay.” History! They apparently do tours, but nothing like that appeared to be happening yesterday.

What WAS happening was LAFD Urban Search and Rescue Training. Right there in Sunken City. Right where we wanted to go. This was going to be tricky. Or was it?

I definitely stick to the policy that if you keep going and act like you belong somewhere or know where you’re going, you can get into a lot of places. Because the fire department was there, the gates were open. So there was no crawling under a fence required. Walking past No Trespassing signs? Sure. But we were supes casual about it. And were handsomely rewarded.

Ok so according to Wikimapia:

In 1929, a sizeable section of land in the southern tip of San Pedro began to unexplainably slip into the sea. The 600 block of Paseo Del Mar began moving seaward in 1929 and continued to slip until the mid 1930s. Movement was measured as high as 11 inches a day. Due to quick action, all but two of the houses on the seaward side of the street were moved before toppling into the sea.

After we realized the LAFD wasn’t going to call their friends the LAPD, we set out to explore without concern. (They seriously didn’t care one bit that we were there. We didn’t shy from talking to them (one of the captains was like, “You guys out for a stroll?”), and I eventually offered to lay in the rescue basket and play victim. (Of course I did!) They declined because apparently they like the firefighters to play victim so they get an idea of what it feels like.)

Oh well, there was plenty of other eye candy to enjoy.

I can’t explain it, but it felt like I was a young teenager again. Exploring the parts of the neighborhood where you knew you probably weren’t supposed to be (in my case it was houses under construction), but you went anyway because you felt oddly free there. I felt oddly free and youthful in the Sunken City. There was an element of danger. A lot of unknown, and the feeling of being in a place that held its own stories. I can’t explain it better than that.

Skeet was leading the way and at one point we looked ahead and got this view:

Yes the ocean is gorgeous, but if you look to the left, you can see that Skeet found a plastic chair wedged into a pile of dirt and sat down. Like it was no big deal. It was hilarious.

PS Yes we were climbing down and around cliffsides known for falling into the ocean. That’s apparently why they don’t want people trespassing. But A- nothing bad happened. And 2- the Urban Search & Rescue team was already onsite. And totes prepared.

House foundation? Former roadway? History.

Look out, not down.

Apparently the wind was only affecting my hair.

We walked back up and over to where we walked in and the firefighters had started their work.

We saw another trail leading down the cliff to the rocks and the sea and decided, why not?

Best. decision. ever.

Yes, we had to climb down this:

(And then back up.) But in between, we discovered what is maybe one of my favoritest places ever.

Best view ever.

Something about sitting on the rocks and listening to the waves crash and watching the water inch closer (and occasionally even splash up) was amazing and worth every step. Every minute in the car to get there. I love laying on a sandy beach and listening to waves while the ocean breezes blows over me, but this was different. And in a good way.

I wanted to have a picnic. I wanted to sit there and read. I wanted to make this my quiet escape place.

I’ll tell you I won’t ever go here alone, but I’ll say it with a wink and my fingers crossed behind my back, because I don’t know if I can keep that promise. I mean you can see how the water shapes the rocks! It’s such an amazing place!!


Unfortunately, we hadn’t brought a picnic and we were looking forward to our seafood feast at the Ports O’ Call, so we made our way back up the cliff, said our goodbyes to our new firefighter friends, and headed to the Korean Friendship Bell. Because we’re friends.

Group picture!

On our way to the Ports O’ Call I made Skeet back up so I could take a picture of this restaurant’s sign.

Once at the Ports, I chowed down on snow crab legs and garlic bread and shrimp and the best roasted corn on the cob I have ever had in my entire life. I washed it all down with beer. Because, take that, kidneys. My hands were messy (which is why there is no photographic evidence…seriously at one point I was like “I need a napkin” and Barb said “you need a wet nap.”) and I was happy.

Then I took a picture of my new bird friend. Because s/he let me get super close without attacking (no food required), proving we’re cool like that.

Such a fantabulous day. And I know I inadvertently offer up a lot of date ideas on this blog, but for serious. This would be a good one. It offers everything: adventure, danger, opportunities for talking, beautiful scenery, and great food. Pretty sure there is something for everyone in there.

This entry was posted in Friends, Hiking, Los Angeles, New Experiences and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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