I interviewed some Pismo Beach locals on tourism, surfing, and some of the most popular spots.

Avila Beach Trail and Cave

In Avila Beach, just off of Avila Beach Drive, down the windy road there is a small yellow sign that says “Cave Landing“.  Now, unless you have been here before, someone has told you about this small road, or you just happen to feel like exploring today, you probably would normally just blow by this sign and continue down to Avila Beach and the piers.

Take my advice, and make a small detour.  Turn onto the small street that leads uphill past the “Cave Landing sign”.  This small road leads you to the top of the hill, where there is a fairly large dirt parking lot.  Now, I bet you are  thinking, ‘Great, a dirt parking lot…it’s a great view, but so what?’ Well the view isn’t even half of the best part.  That’s what.

When I asked Janet Felix in the parking lot how she found this spot, she responded, “I had heard there was a cave in Avila, so when I saw the sign I had to check it out”

Climbing Tree

i nearly took a header off one of these branches into a bunch of waiting poison oak, luckily I caught myself

After you’ve parked and taken in the view from the top of the hill, where you can see (on a good day) all the way across to Pismo Beach and to the Avila piers on the north side, look toward the south and you’ll find what looks like a lot of shrubbery and some distant rocks.

In the midst of this greenery are two trails.  Facing south, the trail on the right leads through the plant life down a narrow trail to a pile of rocks that look great for climbing.  The trail dead ends at these climbable rocks, and that is that.  Down the second trail is where most of the fun is.

The second trail leads down another pathway, through tall shrubs.  On this trail you pass by a huge tree on the left with branches that seem to extend forever.  The tree is surrounded by poison oak, which (based on personal experience) is a little tricky to navigate around.  If you manage to get around the poison oak however, the tree is yours for climbing!

From the trail, you can’t tell that its a nude beach..so I was pretty surprised when I got down there                                                                          – James Fitzpatrick

Down the trail, past the tree the trail comes to a fork.  If you look down the trail to the left, it looks like there is nothing there, just more plants.  Walk down the trail a ways however, and you’ll find yourself at the edge of a long downward stairway that leads to Pirates Cove, Avila’s own nude beach.

Avila Cave

The rustic sign really gives the trail and cave a "local" feel

The trail to the left of the fork leads down a short path to the cave.  Don’t go expecting the Batcave – you will be disappointed.  Instead, what you’ll find is an arched cave that leads to a breathtaking view of Avila.

Jazmine Frias, a student at Cuesta College says, “I really love to just come here when I need to get away, its so serene”

As always, you should explore with a friend.  Over summer there was an assault at Cave Landing, so just be sure to go during the daytime and stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.

Test Your Knowledge

I’ve decided that since this blog has been up for quite a while, and I regularly add posts, that I want to set up a quiz to see how many of you have actually been paying attention!

Its important to know what you are doing when you decide to go on a hike or any other outdoor adventure, so I’ve created a quiz to test your knowledge!

Click here to take the quiz! Good Luck!

Trails along Highway 1

View the Prezi version here

Trails Unknown

  • There are always new trails to find
  • If you have a feeling, go with your gut!
  • Always explore with a friend
If you don’t live in the areas around Pismo Beach and Avila Beach, there are a couple of trails that you may not know about.

Driving down Shell Beach Rd, there are signs literally every street or every other street that say “Coastal Access” or “Coastal View”.  Speeding past, sometimes you don’t even notice the signs, or even think to bother to stop.  Trail walker, Julie Steuer agreed, “Well, this time I had a feeling I should stop, and it was definitely worth the detour.”  At a small cross street, the last street before the intersection of Shell Beach Rd. and Avila Beach Drive, there is a small sign that points down a residential street, El Portal Dr., claiming to lead to a trail.
Coastal Trail Sign

The sign pointing hikers in the direction of the trail.

Though there is a sign that states “Coastal Trail”, I still consider this spot hidden because the likelihood of someone following the sign all the way down the residential street to the small parking lot and trail itself seems highly unlikely.

Following the sign all the way to the end of El Portal Dr. which turns into Indio Dr., you park the car in a lot that can only possibly hold eight cars at most, and proceed down a nice paved trail into the greenery and shrubbery along the cliffs of Pismo Beach.

The trail is so secluded, only a small residential street runs nearby to allow access to the huge McMansions, enclosed by a security gate leading to the street so only the homeowner – and of course their gardeners – can access this small road.

A resident, Jordan Parker says, “I hardly ever see anyone on this path other than neighbors – it’s really secluded.”

The trail eventually forks, one portion going downward, closer to the cliffs and the other portion leading uphill and continues along the cliffs with the same greenery alongside it.  The trail that leads downward eventually, seemingly, dead ends – but if you continue on, onto a small, no longer paved dirt trail, it leads you straight to the edge of the cliff.

Once there, there is a huge long synthetic fibre rope that is securely fastened to a piece of concrete embedded in the ground.  This rope is here, by some genius thinking, to help hikers and climbers lower themselves down the side of the cliff, down to the tide pools and the beach below.

The cliff is not that steep, but without the rope it is definitely not do-able

– Hiker, Jose Guzman

Shell Beach

The tide pools at sunset off of the hidden Indio Dr. path.

It always important to travel with a friend – especially when exploring new territory. Not knowing where exactly the trail leads, having a friend with you will provide more safety in case anything should go wrong.
This weekend I saw the movie 127 Hours (limited release) – based on the true story of Aron Ralston who went canyoneering alone, got trapped between rocks and amputated his own arm in order to survive.  This movie really brings home the point I’m trying to make about safety.  You should never go out on an adventure on your own – even if you know exactly where you are going – because all sorts of things could happen and you never want to find yourself in that kind of situation.

A map of locations along the central coast with trails and hikes

Outdoor Halloween Fun

This coming weekend is Halloween weekend! Here are some great, Halloween spirited ways to spend your days!


Make sure to get your pumpkins carved before this Halloween weekend!

October 30, 2010

1) Pumpkin Carving on the Pismo Pier! 10a.m. – 1p.m.

2) Trick -or-Treat Extravaganza! 12p.m.-2p.m. at the Pismo local downtown businesses

Saturday’s events in Pismo and around the pier mark an annual tradition for the small beach city.  Kids 12 and under can participate in a costume contest, a “guess-the-weight-of-the-pumpkin” contest, and several others.  There will also be pumpkin decorating, a climbing wall, a fire truck for young kids to explore, and even food and music.

“Kids really seems to get into this holiday…and they love dressing up and showing off their costumes to the town”

– Marissa Hollander

October 29-31, 2010

1) Jubilee by the Sea Jazz Festival! A weekend of music, dancing, and 20 bands from the U.S. and Canada at various locations throughout Pismo Beach (see here for locations and tickets)


Piano plays a large role in Jazz for many musicians

Jubilee by the Sea Jazz Festival has been going on for 64 years, but this year marks the first annual festival.  It is put on by the Basin Street Regulars Jazz Club – a Central Coast Jazz Society and non-profit organization that is interested in the preservation and promotion of traditional jazz

Pismo Beach local Bo Jaramillo says, “I look forward to this festival, not too many people really enjoy jazz and appreciate it.”

2) Avila Valley Barn Pumpkin Picking – Stop by the Avila Valley Barn to pick out some Halloween pumpkins before they’re all gone!  And don’t miss the free hay ride out to the pumpkin patch!  The Barn is a favorite among locals, where tons of people consistently go for seasonal produce.

“The barn literally overflows with a wide variety, size, shape, and color of pumpkins”

– Avila Valley Barn

Located at 560 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA the Avila Valley Barn is open seasonally between 9a.m. and 5p.m. until December 24th when they close for the season.

San Luis Port in a Storm

Quick Points:

• Port San Luis Harbor is worth a trip
• There is always safety in numbers
• Going out in the pouring rain is probably not the best idea
• Learn from your mistakes

The Pier:

This weekend I was on my way to an event that I really didn’t want to go to, so I decided to take a little detour to check out the Port San Luis Harbor to kill some time and hopefully find a way of avoiding going to this event all together. Little did I know, I would do just that.

The day I happened to go out to the port happened to be the day that it was raining cats and dogs outside, but I decided that with a baseball cap on, rain boots, and a raincoat, I would be fine. I was wrong. The minute I parked the car and stepped onto the Harford Pier I was already drenched, but at this point I didn’t really care.

Even on a rainy day, the Harford Pier at Port San Luis is definitely worth a trip. On the pier you can do some fishing, watch the sea lions violently bark at one another, cruise the live fish markets, and even eat at the Olde Port Inn or one of the several smaller spots on the pier.

“I come here to fish every weekend…it’s really a great spot.”

– Todd James

As soon as I stepped onto the pier I could smell the distinct odor of freshly caught and gutted fish. One fisherman, Todd James said, “I come here to fish every weekend…it’s really a great spot.” Apparently, Todd is not the only one who thinks so; even in the rain the pier was packed with fishermen reeling in the their catch.

sea lions swimming

Sea Lions playfully swim with one another off the pier

The pier might not seem like the most exciting place, but trust me – the people you see on the pier are true characters and the total opposite of boring. While observing the sea lions off the side of the pier, a scruffy looking older man by the name of Henry Cole came up to me and offered, “They love to sit under there and bark away at each other…” He followed this information up with good advice, “Don’t lean too far over the edge, you don’t want to fall in there!”

sea lions

Sea Lions constantly bark under the pier

The Perfect Storm:

Once I decided it was time to leave, I got in my car – soaking wet but still okay with it – and began to drive. Since it had been raining, the roads were slick, and the wind had knocked a fairly large piece of park into the street. Not seeing the bark in time, I had no choice but to run over it. As soon as the car got over the piece of bark and I heard a loud pop I knew I was in big trouble. The low tire pressure light came on, and as my car began chugging along the road, I pulled over, cussing up a storm larger than the one I was currently driving in.

In what can only really be described as the middle of nowhere, I called AAA and attempted to give the operator some clue as to where I was (there were no cross streets, just a long stretch of road so this was quite difficult). Pulled over in a random tennis court parking lot I paced along my car, surveying the damage done by my poor judgment and reflexes.

Waiting for the poor AAA guy who had to change my tire in the rain, I realized that this situation was literally the perfect storm for misfortune. It was pouring rain (I cared now), I had a flat tire, my cell phone battery life was running low, and I was alone. It dawned on me for a second that I would definitely be the first to die in a horror film, and also that this scenario could have potentially been much worse and more dangerous.

When “Chris” from AAA finally arrived, he made a point to tell me, “Good thing you have AAA!” I don’t know if they are required to say this as some kind of catchphrase – but his words certainly rang true. I was very lucky to have the help I did; I could have been in serious snag.

I ended up avoiding the event I had to go to.

Moral of the story:

The moral of the story here is that, first off, you should never do any outdoor activities alone. Secondly, rain is generally an ingredient in a recipe for disaster, and adventures in the rain rarely turn out as well as the idea sounded. There is always more safety in numbers, so if you are determined to go out in the rain, at least bring a friend!

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