Blue skies, expansive beaches, and frigid nights best describe my Christmas weekend at Pismo Beach. I don’t consider myself a beach person. Have I mentioned that before? I come from Michigan and our idea of a beach is to go to The Lake. It doesn’t matter what lake; in Michigan there are lots of them. So why is it then that this year I’ve suddenly visited more Pacific beaches than perhaps in any year that I’ve lived in California? It has to be this photography stuff.
Pismo Beach is a small beach resort town located about 200 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. It’s best known for Pismo clams, but most of the clams have been fished out. Is that the proper term? Perhaps I should say dug out? One still finds shells along the beach but not like the old days. Clam chowder is still served in the restaurants but I didn’t have the courage to ask where the clams originated. The town has a couple giant clam sculptures to welcome visitors. In December they were decorated to look like reindeer.
The town has a very “beachy” feel with its surf boards, t-shirt shops and the usual souvenir stores. Traffic down to the pier can be horrible, although it wasn’t bad in December. The thing I like about Pismo is the beach. It’s large and stretches along both sides of the pier. On the north side it goes all the way to the bluffs. Of course we walked all the way to those bluffs and explored the tide pools at their base. The breeze off the ocean can be fierce but the afternoon of our walk wasn’t bad.
My favorite place to stay in Pismo is actually closer to Shell Beach than Pismo. I stay out there so I can avoid the bustle of the town. I usually pick one of the hotels out on the bluffs. I like the notion that I have a great view of the ocean plus a trail to hike down to the beach. The size of that particular beach changes of course depending on the tide. When the tide is in there may not be much beach at all.
The pier is usually crowded with people but once again I was lucky. A few families strolled about and fisherman lined the sides. I never actually saw them catch anything but perhaps it’s the fun of trying that keeps them at it. A concession stand will rent rods and bait and a fishing license isn’t required on the pier. Of course one does have help from the gulls and especially from the pelicans. These birds have no fear of people and certainly have a keen interest in fishing.
Would I go again? Without a doubt. Even in summer!