Point Loma was once one of the roughest areas in San Diego. The city’s first boats were tied up here, followed by the largest whaling operation on the West Coast and leather tanning and tallow production. Today, sailboats and lavish yachts grace the marinas of Point Loma, and the waterfront homes make up some of the most expensive real estate in the city. The Cabrillo National Monument, one of the most visited monuments in the US, boasts the most breathtaking views of the entire city.
Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive; 619 557 5450; open 9am–5pm daily; adm $10 per vehicle, $5 per person (cyclists and walk-ins); tickets last for 7 days and visitors can return as many times as they like; www.nps.gov/cabr
The spot where Cabrillo stepped ashore is on a spit of land downhill at Ballast Point. This statue is a worthy tribute to the brave explorer and his men who traversed the seas to claim new territory for Spain.
This Cape Cod-style building was completed in 1855. Unfortunately, coastal fog often hid the beacon light, so another lighthouse, the New Point Loma Lighthouse, was built below the cliff.
Now protected by law, starfish, anemones, warty sea cucumbers and wooly sculpins thrive in their own little world.
A 2-mile (3.2-km) round-trip hiking path runs on an old military defense road. Signs on the way identify over 300 indigenous plants such as sage scrub and Indian paintbrush.
A path runs along the edge of these spectacular 400-ft (122-m) high cliffs, but signs emphatically warn of their instability. The beach is accessible from Sunset Cliffs Park.
Once a yoga commune, much of the original architecture of this Christian university is still intact.
After the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, many felt that San Diego would be the next target. The exhibit explores how the military created a coastal defense system and the largest gun in the US.
Pacific gray whales migrate yearly to give birth in the warm, sheltered waters of Baja California before heading back to Alaska for a summer of good eating. January and February are the best times to spot whales.
The southern end of Point Loma belongs to the military installations of Rosecrans Fort. Innumerable crosses mark the graves of more than 100,000 US veterans, some of whom died at the Battle of San Pasqual in the Mexican-American War.
Browse through the center’s outstanding books about the Spanish, Native Americans, and early California, or enjoy the daily film screenings. Park rangers are on hand to answer questions.
After participating in the conquest of Mexico and Guatemala, Juan Cabrillo was instructed to explore the northern limits of the West Coast of New Spain in search of gold and a route to Asia. He arrived at Ballast Point on September 28, 1542, claimed the land for Spain, and named it San Miguel. Cabrillo died a few months later from complications of a broken bone. Spain saw the expedition as a failure and left the territory untouched for more than 200 years.