Sunday, March 20, 2016

Adventures in Hedonism - Pier Review

Last week I had the opportunity to visit a couple more piers in Orange County. Starting with the Huntington Beach Pier, the longest in the county at 1,856 feet. Naturally that seems to make it a target and indeed it suffered damage from storms in 1912, 1939, 1983, and 1988 – not to mention the damage it also sustained in the 1933 Long Beach Quake.

Its most recent incarnation opened in 1992, this time engineered to withstand waves of 31 feet and a 7.0 earthquake. Indeed it concrete and steel construction gives it a sense of endurance as it rises 100 feet above sea level.

Along with the pier came a rather major redevelopment of Huntington Beach’s Main Street where it meets the pier. Plenty of eats, beach ware, and other merchandise., but within the new construction some classics are still preserved. We had brunch at the Sugar Shack, a café that’s been in Huntington Beach since 1967.

The end of this pier also features a restaurant; Ruby’s at the moment but the Huntington Beach Pier has hosted some sort of a café at the end of its pier since 1930 (except during the war years when it was converted by the Navy as a submarine outlook).

After touring this “modern” pier we headed south, to the San Clemente Pier. Unlike Huntington Beach, the San Clemente pier is a bit more secluded; you have to leave the major highways and wind your way down to the sea, which helps it retain its old school charm.

While the pier might be a bit more off the beaten track by way of automobile, it has the distinction of also being an Amtrak Station. You can catch the Surfliner here at he point where it really gets it’s name, hugging the Southern California Coast as it makes its way south to San Diego.

The San Clemente Pier also is home to the Fisherman, a seafood restaurant and bar located at the base of the pier instead of the end. It anchors the structure along with a few gift shops. Which is  a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sun set.

Like the Huntington Beach pier, the San Clemente Pier was also damaged in the 1939 Hurricane and the 1983 El Niño. However, this structure remains a mostly of traditional wooden construction. You can look down through the pilings and see the ocean below.

At 1,296 feet it ranks 15th in length for California and 3rd for Orange County. That with it’s wooden structure perhaps makes it at greater risk for the next El Niño, which would be a sad loss as this pier really does preserve the charm of the original California piers.