by JESSICA WOODS
photos by Tyler McElhaney

Coastal Curiosity

We’re deep into summer: the sun is bright, the sand is soft, and the ocean is so inviting. For what remains of your summer break, take a day to explore Point Loma, offering historical landmarks, tide pools, awe-inspiring cliffs and hiking trails.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse takes you back in time to when sailing ships relied on these beacons to guide them through safe waters. Built in 1854, its light could be seen for twenty-five miles. However, the builders didn’t take into account the signature low fog that would obscure the light, and so in 1891, the lighthouse was closed and a new Point Loma lighthouse was constructed at a lower elevation. The old lighthouse has now been converted into a museum, where you can explore what life was like there and see the old lamp whose large beam once permeated the peninsula.

Below the lighthouses are a series of silent sentinels collectively known as Fort Rosecrans. The Point Loma peninsula shapes a natural barrier at the entrance of San Diego Bay, and in 1899 the United States Department of War built a series of gun batteries into the cliffs as a strategic harbor defense. While you can’t enter the batteries themselves today, you can walk alongside these massive strongholds.

Whale-watching is popular here, but head to the tide pools to see the tinier creatures that make homes on our shores. Sea stars, mussels, crabs, and other gastropods come and go with the tides. While fun to look at, rangers warn not to touch the animals, as many of them are sensitive and can be harmed or killed from being handled by humans. The tide pools are parallel to the Coastal Tidepool Trail, and more hiking can be explored on the two-mile Bayside Trail.

For history hounds, the Cabrillo National Monument offers a closer look at the first explorer to land on the United States’ western shores, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. With a large statue to commemorate his exploration, the park also features annual reenactments of his landing.