Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach is a classic construction of rotting wood, and over the years everywhere a post was found to be missing the architects of the pier have seen fit to add in two more to replace it.
As a result, Crystal Pier is a tangled wooden mess, just waiting to fall into the ocean as its furthest half did, I am told, almost a century ago.
What's that, you say, there used to be more pier?
Yes, as I am given to understand. Apparently, a ballroom once stood at the far-end of this pier until one cold night (or afternoon or whatever) all the ladies and gentleman fell in a screaming heap into the sea.
This latter historical fact plus the rickety wooden construction combine to make Crystal Pier the most exciting pier in San Diego County. You can have modern concrete piers like OB. I'll take a pier that winces and shakes every time a big set comes rushing in to greet it. On days with big swell, when you find yourself a little too complicated or just lacking excitement, go to Crystal Pier and remember the ballroom.
In fact, this whiff of destruction is what provides Crystal Pier with most of its charm because it is otherwise located in the now mostly charmless heart of Pacific Beach, a tepid and stagnant hibernation ground for Midwestern transplants and all the most insipid folks from elsewhere who might decide to move to San Diego.
Still, what PBites appear unable to secure for themselves with their cash is a strong enough supply of commodified beach lifestyle to return the community to the charm of an actual beach town (nota bene, see IB for reference), instead of a heap of trying-hard transplants. I guess to midwesterners, PB must feel like the real thing otherwise they would give up their beachcruisers, put down their beer bongs, and turn off the reggae music.
In truth, this pier is the real draw for the neighborhood, outshining every sports bar, tattoo parlor, and binge drinking house around, so it is worth braving the horde to see it. Furthermore, any time KPBS announces a "high surf advisory", there's only one pier worth visiting in San Diego: Crystal Pier.
One other thing: because it has a tangled puzzle for a substructure, this pier likes to collect seaweed and wind-blown detritus in its guts, and on windless days (admittedly few) this can result in some foul-smelling beachiness. Nevertheless, I appreciate a good beach smell, unlike those complaining rich assholes in La Jolla. For me, the bad odors are proof of this pier's legitimacy. I mention them, though, because they're not for everyone. If you hate beach smells, consider a different pier.
Conclusion: Exciting Pier, smells like ocean. May offend some noses