Imperial Beach is a fun beach, and has a variety of activities everyone can enjoy. There are shops and restaurants right next to the beach, and there are even more places to eat and buy things right across the street in the city. Imperial Beach is a more commercialized beach, so if you are looking for a tranquil beach stroll, this is not the beach for you. This beach is all about the fun!
The pier made for a very pleasant evening stroll, with a beautiful California sunset in the background.
Just a couple words of advice for visiting Imperial Beach: the parking is kind of tough. There is no designated beach lot, so you have to park at meters or pricey lots down the street. In addition, I have been stung by a sting ray at this beach before while surfing early in the morning, so if you go early in the day, exercise caution and shuffle your feet along the ground to kick up the sand and scare off the sting rays. Nothing ruins a beach day faster than having to stick your foot in boiling water to stop the poison from spreading, and then having your foot periodically start gushing blood throughout the rest of the day. Don’t let possible sting rays deter you from visiting this beach though! They are virtually nonexistent by the afternoon, having been scared off by the morning crowd.
If you want an experience that is truly like no other, I recommend heading down to Border Field State Park. This is the southernmost beach in CA, right on the border of Mexico. Sure, there are lots of places you can visit throughout the southwest United States that border Mexico, but this one is unique, because it is on the western coast of both countries. And because our charming governments want to make sure everyone stays in their appropriate country, they have constructed an actual fence along the border, extending all the way out into the ocean.
On the United States side of the fence, the beach is completely desolate, and they recommend not swimming due to unsafe conditions.
But on the Mexico side, it was party town! Music was blaring, food was grilling, and families were splashing around in the ocean.
We wandered over to the fence and talked to some of the people on the other side. It’s a pretty cool feeling, talking to someone in another country face-to-face.
However, the US side of the fence is heavily guarded, and it wasn’t long before the border patrol made us back away from the fence and told us we weren’t allowed to stand that close to it.
This isn’t a beach to visit if you are looking for a fun, quintessential beach day. This one is better visited as an interesting glimpse into the political/social division of two neighboring countries, and to see how different two sides of the same fence can be.
Want to check it out? Information on visiting Border Field State Park can be found here.