Not know by many tourists, due to the unbelievable amount of things to see and do in San Diego, but it is awe inspiring to see the view from the old Point Loma Lighthouse parking area. The entire city skyline is before you as well as the North Island Naval Air Station with the Coronado Bridge behind beckoning you come explore this beautiful city by the bay. Start right here by checking out the Lighthouse and the history it holds. Then see if you can spot a submarine coming into the harbor below your perch in the sky.
The Visitor Center is on the same level as the parking lot and you must see the displays of Juan Cabrillo and his journey to the west coast. The look inside the center shows you what the old ships that sailed looked like and there is a theatre that shows movies. The show I saw was of the humpback whales migration. Out front, with the ocean as a backdrop is a statue in honor of Juan Cabrillo.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to explore what is now the west coast of the United States. Cabrillo departed from the port of Navidad, Mexico, on June 27, 1542. Three months later he arrived at "a very good enclosed port." That port is known today as San Diego bay. Historians believe he anchored his flagship, the San Salvador, on Point Loma's east shore near Cabrillo National Monument. Cabrillo later died during the expedition, but his crew pushed on, possibly as far north as Oregon, before thrashing winter storms forced them to back to Mexico.
This area offers some wonderful breath taking views. It was really neat to visit it again and taking in the wonderful beautiful day. Gosh, we love the ocean. The boys had a great time!
Daily: 9:00 - 5:15. Open until 6:15 p.m. during the summer, July 4 through Labor Day. Winter and spring are especially good times to visit the park.
There are two light houses. The first was complete in 1855, keeper James P. Keating lit the oil lamp for the first time and keeper Robert Israel was the last that had served 21 years here. It was in serviced for 36 years with 11 keepers and 22 assistant keepers including two women Eliza Jenkins and Maria Israel who keep the light glowing welcoming sailors to safety into San Diego harbor.
Eventually another was built closer since the other was 422 feet to high, since fog was closer to the shore, so the newer one was built closer in 1891 so the ships could see the newer light house better.
You can go inside and see the interior behind secure door with viewing glass. It is nice to see to so you can understand the hardships and yet the comforts during this time period. There is a really neat spiral wood stair case that takes you to the top quarters. Be careful because it is steep and narrow.
Saturday and Sunday, March 1 - 2, and March 15 - 16
Bird Watching Tours – Mendocino Coast Audubon Society
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Daily
California Historical Landmark NO. 51 OLD POINT LOMA LIGHTHOUSE and on the National Register of Historical Landmarks
The assistant keeper had their own quarters and was constructed at the same time as the lighthouse. It now serves as the Lighthouse Exhibit. It is filled with some really nice information about the keepers and what they endured. Please don't miss it. Take the time to explore and read some of the wonderful features and facts. Some really nice displays.
22 assistant keepers had lived here and two of those assistant keepers where including two women Eliza Jenkins and Maria Israel who keep the light glowing welcoming sailors to safety into San Diego harbor.
Here you will find a wealth of information about the park. The books store offers many publications about the local area, plant life, wild life, and the military history that still abounds here. There are snack machines and restrooms too. Take the time to stroll around the building and enjoy the beautiful vista views of the bay, sailing ships, and awesome San Diego.
Here at the center you will find restrooms and vending machines too.
Cabrillo National Monument is open 365 days a year, including all weekends and holidays, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the exploration of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo to California. The park is open for day use only (9am - 5:15pm) and charges an entrance fee of $5.00 per car for a 7-day pass and $2.00 for pedestrians and cyclists. The highlights of the park include it's sweeping views of the bay city and neighboring Mexico, as well as the Cabrillo statue, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the whale overlook, walking trails, and the tidepool area (to which you must drive to). This is a great spot for photo opps and just admiring the beautiful city that is San Diego.
The Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to land on the west coast of America and discovered Point Loma peninsula in 1542.
Atop Point Loma stand the star attraction, the four and half meter high, sandstone Cabrillo statue by Alvaro de Bree, a gift of Portugal to the state of California. The statue had long been sought by San Diegans, particularly by the Portuguese community, as one of their own.
The actual spot where Cabrillo stepped ashore is on a spit of land downhill at Ballast Point. This magnificent statue is a worthy tribute to the brave explorer and his men, who ventured across uncharted seas to claim new territory for Spain.
The original sculpture has been badly damaged in the salty ocean air and was brought indoors for restoration. An exact replica from denser limestone was dedicated in 1988.
At the highest point of the park stands the Old Lighthouse providing a panoramic view of the harbor and coastline, On clear days you can see the downtown, Mexican border and far out to sea. From here, you can watch as boats and ships go in and out of the harbor. With luck, you may even see the Marines practicing airborne or amphibious assaults, or Navy warships patrolling the coastline. It is an ideal spot for solitude and contemplation.
In the visitor center you can find a museum, bookstore, gift shop, some vending machines offering snack food, and a small theatre, showing films about the history of the park.
Open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. For security reasons, the main gate is closed at 4:45pm, and all visitors have to leave by 5:00pm.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the west coast of the United States, 50 years after Christopher Columbus landed in the US. He sailed north from Mexico with three ships, the San Salvador, the Victoria and the San Miguel. Much of his life is unknown, it is uncertain if he was Spanish or Portugese, no one knows where he is buried or how he died and his navigational logs were lost. The land here was set aside for a National Park in his honor in 1913, it is one of the most visited national monuments in the US, I suspect more for the view of the surrounding area and the tide pools than to pay homage to the explorer. I had never heard of him before coming here so it wasn't something taught in my schools here in the midwest part of the country.
I visited the tidepools first, then drove up to the Visitor Center to see the Point Loma Lighthouse and have a brief stop at the Visitor Center. There is a statue of Cabrillo near the Visitor Center and a nice view over the San Diego Bay, the Naval Air Station and you can even make out the blue bridge going from downtown San Diego into Coronado.
The Visitor Center has an auditorium where you can watch a movie on Cabrillo or the area, during grey whale season they also run a movie on them. You can also visit the "Age of Exploration" exhibit if you want to learn more about Cabrillo.
Admission to the National Park is $5 per car and is good for 7 days, $3 if you walk, bike or ride a motorcycle. The National Park is open from 9am-5pm.
While at Cabrillo National Monument, you can visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Park in the parking lot for the Visitor Center and walk up the hill to get to the Lighthouse, don't confuse it with the Point Loma Light Station closer to the tidepools, I was looking for parking down there but it is part of the US Coast Guard station and there is no access.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was the 1st lighthouse in San Diego and was operational from 1855-1891 when they built the other lighthouse at the lower elevation. The Old Lighthouse's serious flaw was that it was built at 422 feet above sea level, the fog and low clouds made the old lighthouse difficult to see.
You can visit the interior of the lighthouse which has been restored and furnished to look like it would have back in the 1880s when the Israel family lived there and imagine what it would have been like to live in such confined quarters. Inside the assistant keeper's quarters you can see the French made brass and crystal light that was used to guide ships.
The tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument were a bit of a disappointment for me, I had really wanted to see the tide pools so I looked up to see when low tide was and headed over for the afternoon low tide so I could see the creatures that hang out in the tide pools when the tide goes out. If I had read the website more carefully I would have realized that I wasn't going at the right time, the low tide should be a negative number for optimal viewing and this happens most frequently during daylight hours in the winter but also at certain times of the month depending on the cycle of the moon. So I didn't get to see any sea creatures at all. If you do hit low tide you should be able to see crabs, starfish, sea urchins and maybe even a squid.
Check either the salt water tides site for the time of low tide or the projections on the NPS website, remembering that the tide pool area is only open between 9 am-4:30 pm and the National Park closes at 5pm. For my visit, the really low tide was at 6am, at the other low tide at 4:30pm it was still at 2 feet which wasn't low enough to see anything.
The view from this monument is one of the best in San Diego. The monument is named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who stumbled upon San Diego Bay in 1542.
Aside from the statue commemorating Cabrillo, another notable landmark is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse that stands tall amidst the park. There's views of a naval station, Coronado Bridge as well as the rest of Coronado Island, the Pacific Ocean, and even Mexico.
Cabrillo National Monument, located at the tip of Point Loma, is a great place to get panoramic views of much of San Diego County and into Tijuana, Mexico. The monument is at the top of a hill and on very clear days, you can see the local mountains about 40 miles inland to the east and the Coronado Islands to the south (part of Mexico). This national monument is named after Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who led the first European exploration of the West Coast of North America. Legend has it that he stepped ashore at what is present day Ballast Point, which you can see below you when you are at the visitor's center. You can also visit the old Point Loma Lighthouse, a 19th century lighthouse that guided ships into San Diego Bay until a more modern lighthouse was built closer to the water. There are also several nature hikes you can take at the Monument, and you can also visit tidepools. To get here, you'll have to drive through a US Naval Installation, and you'll also pass by Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. There is a visitor's center with historical information, as well as a gift shop. Parking is free but there is an entrance fee to get into the national monument - the fee allows you to return as many times as you'd like within one week. They are open 365 days a year but just be aware in the late spring (May and June), views are often obsured by the marine layer, which are low lying clouds that roll onshore from the ocean in the afternoon and are affectionately referred to by the locals as "May Gray" and "June Gloom."
Each winter (late December through mid-February), Pacific Gray Whales pass through Point Loma on their annual 12,000 mile migration. So if you love to whale-watch, the best spot for you to view the whales is from the western overlooks of the national park. Just DON'T forget to bring your binoculars!
Having guided ships through San Diego Bay for 36 years (1855 - 1891), today, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse serves as a little reminder of San Diego's maritime past. The interior of the lighthouse has been refurbished to its original appearance and is open to the public for viewing. Come see how the lighthouse keeper and his family use to live and work in such small quarters. The reason why the old lighthouse was eventually abandoned was because of its elevation; the fog and low clouds obscured the light that helped maneuver the ships into the bay. The new lighthouse was built closer to the shore.
Named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to explore California, sailing under the flag of Spain. Cabrilllo, is believe to have been born in Portugal,he took part in the exploration of Mexico under Hernan Cortez. Cabrillo commanded 2 ships to explore the Pacific Coast. And in 1642, he sighted San Diego, the San pedro bay, San Cataline Island and Santa Monica Bay.In 1543 he died from complication of a serious fall and broken leg, he is believe to have been buried in the Channel Islands.
Today, you can find Cabrillo Monument overlooking San Diego Bay, the view is spectacular!. There's also a light house,walking trails, whale observation, a visitors center with a small museum about Cabrillo explorations, great views of the city over the harbor, that are the best part.
Fee: $ 4 per vehicle, $2 per person walking or bicicle.
Whale Season (Dec. 15 - March 1)
Others: Rattlesnakes are sometimes seen specially on the trail. Pets are not Allowed.