Ventura lies about halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. It’s that often forgotten place where people who drive through it on the 101 Freeway say things like, “We need to come here sometime,” but never do. Well, just off the freeway is a pretty cool pier that might make you want to change your mind the next time you driving up or down the coast.
It’s a long pier. To be precise the pier today is 1,600 feet long. It’s had various lengths over the years. In 1872 when the pier was first built it was 1,200 feet long and it stretched all the way out to 1,958 feet in 1938. On a fairly regular basis, say every thirty or forty years or so, winter storms damage the pier. The last significant storm damage occurred in 1995 when 420 feet were ripped off. The pier was rebuilt to its present form in 2001. So that makes the Ventura Pier the 8th longest in California. Wow. Sorta. But keep in mind that there are more than 100 ocean piers along the California coast from Imperial Beach just north of the Mexican border to Crescent City just south of the Oregon border. That’s a lot of pier facts.
To Kongo’s mind, people watching is one of the best sports on a crowded pier. Others may actually think fishing over the side of the pier is more sportsmanlike but who can argue with this patriotic young lady strolling up and down the pier.
Or how about this guy. You can tell from his face that he’s been fishing on this pier for awhile.
There’s an opening at the end of the pier where you can look — I mean peer down and observe some the the structure holding everything up. Although everything looks pretty solid, Kongo could actually feel the pier moving a little as waves passed beneath. Not too much. Not enough to make you nervous. It kind of felt like a small earthquake that is so common in Southern California. Not to worry, the pier has only been destroyed six times since 1872 and none of it was from just falling down.
The Ventura beach stretches along either side of the pier. Lifeguards man their stations and keep people from trying to swim under the pier where they’re likely to be caught by one of the seasoned fishermen casting lines from the top of the pier.
And when you get tired of walking the pier, you can take your entire extended family out on a bicycle ride. Here three generations of happy visitors careen up and down the boardwalk.
Take a visit the next time you go by. Paid parking is available at the pier and there are restaurants and bars if you forget the picnic lunch.
Travel safe. Have fun!