Ocean Beach – live life like a local

If you’re searching for a real, laid-back beach community, a place where the wave’s pound against the pier, where the shops are small and locally owned, and where your best friend is encouraged to dig all day long, then you should check out Ocean Beach, San Diego.

This is the last of California’s real surfing communities; a place where you can buy some fabulous surf gear, eat at tasty restaurants, soak up the sun on the beach, and listen to everything from jazz to rock whilst buying your veggies at the weekly open-air market.

Ocean Beach – Surf it

There are two really great surf spots, OB Pier and Sunset Cliffs.

OB Pier is suitable for everyone, from beginners to experts. The south side has a nice left where you can shoot the pier at high tide. The north side has nice rights and pretty decent lefts, depending on the direction of the swell. So, it’s a pretty good all round spot.

The optimum surfing conditions: Wave height between 3 & 6 feet. Swell direction, west/northwest.

Sunset Cliffs is probably best tackled only by those with experience. The location means that you need to climb in and out, not something you want to be doing on your second or third attempt. The cliffs have both very hard breaking waves and exceptional long, hollow waves. This surf spot provides great rights and lefts.

The optimum surfing conditions: Best conditions are 3-5ft up to 12 ft

If you’ve need to rent a board, want to take lessons, or you just need some wax, check out OB Surf & Skate, these guys offer everything.

4976 Newport Avenue San Diego, CA 92107
Ph: 619-225-0674
http://obsurfandskate.com/

Another great resource: http://www.surfline.com/surf-report/ocean-beach-southern-california_4253/ This give you the current wind speed, tide information, and a surf report.

Ocean Beach – Love it

Love it because your dog can come too. Dog Beach is where your four legged friend can run free off the leash, swim, dig, and romp with friends without you getting a hefty fine. There are a few rules; pets should be vaccinated, obedient, and not too loud. By law you’ll have to clean up after them, and unfortunately, no doggy treats are allowed.

Dog Beach is easy to spot, apart from the number of dogs going crazy, there’s also a commemorative tiled walkway and a welcome surfboard with the name written on it.

Where’s the beach? At the northern end of Ocean Beach, near the mouth of the San Diego River, at the end of Voltaire Street.

Ocean Beach – Eat it

After surfing, food has to be a number the one priority. These are some of OB’s very best establishments:

Newport Pizza – The best crusts in San Diego. This famous local spot has an impressive micro brew beer selection, a no ‘crap on tap’ policy, and you can bring your dog too. Open from 12 – 12 (2am at the weekends) enjoy a loud and lively atmosphere where tunes are courtesy of the duke box. Pick a slice and pay. Simple. Eat in or take out, try The Hulk or the David Hasselhof. Warning: Cash only, no cards.

5050 Newport Ave San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619-224-4540
http://www.obpizzashop.com

If you love pizza but you’re in a group, there’s no way you’re all going to fit into the Newport. Try Pizza Port, a much larger place with great beer, pizza, and long picnic tables.

1956 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619- 224-4700.
http://www.pizzaport.com/

O.B. Noodle House – Home to the best drink specials in OB. Everyone loves this place. It’s loud, but the food is delicious. Vegetarian spring rolls with peanut sauce, char grilled shrimp, and steaks, it’s got the lot. Open from 12- 11 (11-11 Friday to Sunday) this place gets packed after 4pm so put your name on the list, and give the hostess your cell number; they’ll call you when your table is ready. Try the Sake it’s wonderful.

2218 Cable St, San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619-450-6868
http://www.obnoodlehouse.com

Hodad’s – If you’ve been surfing at Sunset Cliffs (or even if you haven’t) and you love burgers, onion rings and milkshakes, the only place in OB to come is Hodad’s. Open from 9 (10 at the weekend), the queues will be out the door, but stick with it. It’s loud, but the burgers are juicy, the rings are to die for, and the milkshakes well, see for yourself. Tip: If you don’t want to queue, call in, order take out, and eat on the beach.

5010 Newport Ave San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619-224-4623
http://www.hodadies.com

Ocean Beach – Live it

When you’ve surfed out for the day, here are some places to drink, dance, and hang out.

Winston’s is a small, intimate venue with live music open until 2am. This is where you enjoy reggae with the hippy set one night, Karaoke, touring and local bands another. But whatever’s playing, the atmosphere is good, and the bar has a full choice of beers, wines, and spirits. Warning: Cover charge.

1921 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619-222-3802
http://www.winstonsob.com

Gallagher’s is an Irish pub where each night something different is going on -from live music and DJ’s to giant games. Check out the $3 beer of the month and $3 speciality shots from the land of the leprechaun. Open until 2am.

5046 Newport Ave Ocean Beach, CA 92107
PH: 619- 222-5300
http://www.gallagherspubob.com

Tiny’s Tavern is unique – why? Well, most bars are best at the weekends, but Tiny’s is best on Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s; it’s also unique because it only serves beer. If you’re looking for a truly local bar with Hawaiian styling, plenty of TVs, and the friendliest staff, this has to one for you. Open until 2am.

4745 Voltaire St San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619-523-1002
http://www.tinystavernsd.com/

Ocean Beach – Sleep it

If you don’t have the comfort of your own VW camper, you’ll need a place to crash, here are some of Ocean Beaches best accommodation options.

If you’re one of those ‘comfort’ people who enjoys a nice soft bed, pool and comfortable furniture visit http://www.seabreezevacationrentals.com/ the site to browse upscale houses and condos for rent.

At the other end of the scale, for a place to lay out head without spending big bucks, consider the OB International Hostel. Good points: Curtains on the beds, free internet, free linen, free breakfast, very close to the beach and nightlife. Not so good points: Staff get mixed reviews from REALLY friendly to rude, and it can be noisy; BUT it’s only $20 a night.

San Diego’s Ocean Beach International Hostel 4961 Newport Ave. San Diego, CA 92107 www.CaliforniaHostel.com

If neither a condo nor a hostel takes your fancy, why not try The Ocean Beach Hotel, located in the heart of OB. It has beach views and Mediterranean styling, every room has hardwood flooring, 32” flat screen TVs and air-conditioning units, microwave, and refrigerator.

Ocean Beach Hotel, 5080 Newport Ave. San Diego, CA 92107
PH: 619-223-7191
www.obhotel.com

Ocean Beach – Try it

Ocean Beach has some unique stores, not the large chain store types, but small independent places where you’re treated like a friend. But as well as all that there are lots of outdoor events, try these:

Wednesday Farmers Market, on Newport Avenue between Cable and Bacon Streets, is where you can buy locally grown produce, art, flowers, and lots more whilst listening to live bands.

OB Street Fair & Chilli Cook-Off Festival, held in June each year; OB Oktoberfest, the German beer festival; and the Annual Holiday Parade with surfing Santa’s, bands and individual floats.

Check out the calendar of events: http://www.oceanbeachsandiego.com/calendar

Ocean Beach – Know it

A few ‘good to know’ tips about Ocean Beach.

Fishing. The pier is one of the few places in San Diego where you can fish without a license. You need to understand the size and catch limits, just ask the locals if you don’t know.

Beach Life. Ocean Beach has supervised swimming and surfing areas, restrooms, showers and disabled assistance.

Parking. Public parking lots can be found at the end of Voltaire Street, adjacent to Dog Beach and at the end of Santa Monica Avenue adjacent to the main lifeguard station. There’s also a large lot in Newport Avenue, adjacent to the Ocean Beach Pier. Street parking is also available along Newport Avenue and the residential side streets.

That’s it, that’s Ocean Beach, now you know it, surf it, love it.

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The all new Splendour of the Seas

With five new dining experiences, 124 new balcony staterooms, 10 bars and lounges, the new and improved Splendour of the Seas is really living up to her name.

Wendy Liscia, freelance travel writer, was amongst some of the first English speaking guests on board when the ship set sail from Santos in Brazil during her immersion season.

I boarded Splendour when she was three weeks into her new season, following her five week makeover at the Navantia Shipyard in Cadiz. The $50 million spend was well worth it, thick carpets, squeaky clean bathrooms and exquisite sofas in the brand new R Bar; the Centrum’s chic new cocktail bar, were all evident. Unfortunately, the new ipads had not been installed, but the technology behind the interactive information screens gave a taste of what would be in store for other guests.

The large screen Digital Wayfinders, situated on the public decks, help with orientation indicating current deck location, directions on how to get to the restaurants, bars and entertainment venues; but they were especially useful in locating the nearest restrooms. In a choice of languages, these screens also offer details of the day’s activities via the cruise compass. An excellent idea.

Dining is always an important part of any cruise holiday, and for me, this was the best dining I had experienced on any Royal Caribbean ship. The Windjammer, often criticized for buffet style luke warm food, was excellent, but what impressed me the most was the hygiene. In my experience, there may be hand sanitizer stations, but many guests don’t use them. On Splendour the staff are there to see that guest DO use them. A huge plus.

The excellent food and service in the Windjammer continued in the King & I dining room. My Time dining on this cruise is a bonus for guests who prefer to eat around 8pm, unlike the Brazilians and Europeans who consider 10pm ideal. My only regret was that there wasn’t enough time to try out all the speciality restaurants; however, the new healthy eating Park Café had some excellent salads, stuffed breads and biscuits. The Dog House, somewhere I tried to avoid until the penultimate day, was superb; these hotdogs from around the world were tasty, meaty and totally unexpected.

All of the ships staterooms have received a makeover including the installation of brand new bathrooms. The addition of a whole new deck of balcony cabins on deck 6 also means that more guests can enjoy breakfast on their patio.

It is clear that the Centrum is an area where a large amount of the budget has been spent. Comfy chairs and sofas in red velvet and gold hug the small dance floor and the upper levels. The R Bar, with its Italian marble counter, is where the ’mixologist’ creates cocktails from around the globe, whilst entertainers perform at great heights in well choreographed shows.

Many US and European customers feel reluctant to try a cruise where the majority of the other guests are non English speaking, but this experience, in my opinion, was an excellent way to experience a ‘taste’ of South America with the locals.

Quick facts:

What’s New?

  • 124 new balcony staterooms on deck 6
  • All staterooms have been refurbished to include new carpets, bathrooms, and flat screen TV’s.
  • New Touch Screen information points help you see where you are, where the facilities are located and what’s on.
  • ipads in every stateroom
  • New poolside big screen on Deck 10
  • Brand new gym equipment – including a rowing machine.
  • Park Café – serving make your own salads, healthy choices and snacks
  • Dog House – mouth watering hotdogs from around the world.
  • Café Latté-tudes
  • Izumi Asian-fusion cuisine, featuring a la carte sushi selections
  • A la carte dining in the Viking Crown Lounge
  • Chef’s Table – An intimate dining experience
  • R Bar in the Centrum – A combination of ‘60’s style and chic comfort
  • Ariel entertainment

Old favourites:

  • New to Splendour but not Royal Caribbean – Choppes Grill
  • The Vitality Spa
  • Fitness classes from kick boxing to Pilates
  • Solarium
  • Theatre
  • Casino
  • Rock-climbing wall
  • Upper-deck jogging track
  • 18-hole miniature golf course

For Club Members:

  • Concierge club
  • Diamond Lounge

For Families:

  • Royal Babies® and Royal Tots® programming featuring specially designed Fisher Price activities
  • Expanded teen-only hangout areas
  • Family-friendly activities including games, contests, enrichment classes and lectures