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Pier Review: South Mission Jetty/Pier

Now, the South Mission Jetty is not really a pier, per se, but because it fulfills the same function as a pier, it's a land object that goes out over the water and gets you close to it, it can be classified with them.

Now, the South Mission Jetty is not really a pier, per se, but because it fulfills the same function as a pier, it's a land object that goes out over the water and gets you close to it, it can be classified with them.

The only real complaint I have with the South Mission Jetty is that it is probably, with the exception of Oceanside, the most violent pier in San Diego County. This is due to constant warring all the time between the Kooks and the Locals. The reason they fight is that the South Mission Jetty offers all kinds of "sick rips" and "C-Ribs" which are local parlance for the hamster-shapes drawn by wave riders and the pearly barrels, respectively, that the gnar shredders like to shave the faces off of. (Non-shredders: try to keep up. This is all saltwater talk for surfing action, but I think Richard Henry Dana was correct in Two Years Before the Mast where he writes that an author should just throw the terms around and assume the reader will catch up.)

In fact, at the South Mission Jetty, you can even get punched in the mouth for not calling out "sick rips" when you see a shredder has thrown some down, and you can get stare-downs for not offering shakas anytime someone gets shacked. In fact, you can get called out and punched in the mouth for declining to even review this pier, etc.

Nevertheless, it is a wonderful pier, constructed out of a profusion of huge boulders, some of which appear to be the most excellently famous and jade-colored serpentinite, itself directly connected to so much of California's great natural history. This is why serpentinite has been designated the State Rock of California, and it's always a delight to find some of the stuff.

(Seriously, if you're wondering what's so cool about a green boulder, pick up a copy of Schoenberg's A Natural History of California, and read the shit out of the book. At 1,000 pages, it has a great dollar-per-page ratio and the information-per-page ratio is off the hook so you will thank me for the suggestion (unless you hate California's Natural History in which case you probably hate piers too)).

The South Mission Jetty (pier) runs right out into the ocean and it is unwise to visit when the waves crash down on top of it. In addition, it is not very easy to hike out onto this pier because it is made of slanted boulders that a ship deposited without regard to any spatial orientation. Boulders instead of wood or concrete would be tough enough, but to visit the South Mission Jetty you must also wear sandals and forego shoes or else the Locals or the Kooks might punch you in the mouth, so your traction will be affected by your footwear too.

What makes this worse is when you stop off at Sunshine Smoothie in Ocean Beach and you get a couple of smoothies before hiking out onto the jetty because now one of the hands you would have used to steady yourself is being used to hold your frosty smoothie aloft.

Nevertheless, an intrepid pier reviewer forges ahead and on this day I was able to gather the data necessary for a proper review.

Pier Review Highlights

  • Smells: Saltwater (inside the graffiti hut: pee).
  • >Fishing:Unfortunately, yes.
  • >Rip Currenty:yes.
  • >Attractions:The pee-smelling hut with the graffiti.
  • >Features:Very long: Goes far out past the surf zone.
  • >Good for Checking out the Surf:Yes, if you are not thinking about going out.
  • >View:Pretty good view.
  • >Traction/Footing:Not too good.

The best thing about the South Mission Jetty is that one can walk halfway to the Cortes Bank on the thing. There is not another pier in the world that goes into deeper water, so that fact combined with the wave-washed surf side and the channel side give you a broad contrast between different aquatic environments.

swishy side of the pier

Mrs. Shanburst used the technical term "swishy" to describe the channel side and in her survey found a variety of macro-algae. I was planted on the wave side in order to throw up all the mandated shakas and while there I surveyed numerous Mytilus californianus and one lobster trap.

About that last part, here as elsewhere, the intrepid pier-goer will encounter fisherman working hard to rob the sea of its few remaining fish, but one must work hard not to get too busted over the fact in public, because it will mark one as an outsider or a weirdo and this is another way to attract mouth punches.

Conclusion:Pretty sick pier.