Adventures on the North County coastline

It’s hard to resist getting into the water here in North County. Surfers, swimmers and paddle boarders of all levels are drawn to Del Mar’s azure surges. Visitor guides list “best” spots for enjoying the water, but you can explore Del Mar’s coastal strand and easily find a favorite place not listed in any guidebook. The city’s prime location makes it easy for residents to branch out along the northern shores seeking new spots for adventures, such as exploring tide pools or taking out a boat out for fishing or a sunset cruise. Many North County residents find excitement navigating the calmer waters at the Carlsbad Lagoon, coasting on the glimmering blue via kayak, paddleboard, canoe or pedal boat. Those with a need for speed power wave runners around the lagoon, or spend their day wake boarding, water skiing and tubing.

Wandering south, La Jolla provides additional pristine waters for paddleboarding and kayaking as well as more colorful tide pools for visiting with underwater residents. The Birch Aquarium, run by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, can provide more close encounters with sea creatures and a chance to learn more about their vibrant habitats. For a closer look, take a trip under the sea at the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park or La Jolla Cove for more interaction. Snorkelers can float through this crystal-blue neighborhood to swim with leopard sharks, rays and other local ocean residents – or venture on their own into the aquatic scenery. Scuba divers intensify the experience, immersing into deeper shades of blue. Experts know where to go, and the less experienced can take lessons and then dive into Scripps Canyon guided by North County Scuba Center, or tour the La Jolla kelp forest with La Jolla Dive & Snorkel.

Along with this ocean swirling with life come those golden sands, setting the scene for a variety of fun.  Sun-worshippers speckle the oceanfront and volleyball competitors pound the grainy terrain. The Del Mar & Solano Volleyball group invites casual and serious players to join their meet ups at Dog Beach on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 4 p.m. Pups love Del Mar sands, and Del Mar loves its pups. Canine compadres have Dog Beach on the north side, but are welcomed at most others, with leash laws that change for the summer months. Hounds craving waves might be seen getting some paddleboard lessons or training for the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon in September. Then, there are those folks who prefer Downward Dog poses on the sand instead of bringing their furry friends. Valerie from Yoga Six invigorates and relaxes participants in a Vinyasa Flow class on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Del Mar Beach between the 18th Street and 19th Street entrances.

Want to step away from civilization and the summer influx of tourists? Disappear on a hiking trail at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

From a .5-mile loop to a 3-mile loop, each with its unique features and diverse terrain – native plants, groves, wildlife tracks, ocean vistas, coastal wildlife – this unspoiled coast is a lush escape.

Near the Torrey Pines State Beach is the Los Peñasquitos Marsh with its creek and lagoon accessible through the entrances operated by California State Parks or the Flintkote Trail off Sorrento Valley Drive. Another opportunity to escape includes the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, where visitors can explore the North County’s coastal native habitat. The reserve has seven miles of trails to trek, with guided day and evening walks, a nature center, and an observation deck.

Such beauty can only be sustained with considerate tending. Locals and visitors alike can help by being respectful to the land and can consider volunteering at a nature preserve or joining a San Diego Coastkeeper Cleanup event. The nThe Royal Dance Academy and the Royal Academy of Performing Arts offered an amazing production at the Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD, with four different recitals and over 600 student dancers.ext local event takes place at Cardiff State Beach on Aug. 8 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. – a perfect opportunity to help the area recover as the busy summer season winds down.

Another way to appreciate the many facets of Del Mar is to distance yourself from the crowded summer streets by soaring above the coastline. Getting up, up and away will put the wonder of the Del Mar environs into perspective. Local companies Skysurfer Balloon Company and Panorama Balloon Tours provide an enviable vantage point to appreciate the North County coastline. For thrills and excitement above Del Mar, a tandem paragliding or hang-gliding trip with Torrey Pines Gliderport guides can take you zooming over the Torrey Pines cliffs.

Concluding a day of North County adventure by watching an exquisite Del Mar sunset is not hard to do, no matter what season. The aural punctuation of the occasional train lacing through the coast or the multi-colored hot air balloons dotting the distant inland sky often get lost in the background of the evening grind. Not surprisingly, Del Mar offers unique settings for viewing the sunset.

Seagrove Park’s Coast Boulevard location makes it easy to grab some to-go nibbles at one of the nearby eateries, including those located on Camino Del Mar. A bench on the grassy bluff serves as a front row dinner “table” for the day’s curtain call.  The Del Mar Foundation Summer Twilight Concert series continues at Powerhouse Park, with most shows on Tuesday evenings. An early dinner at The Poseidon or Jake’s can precede a walk to the park for enjoying the sunset. The Foundation’s First Thursday’s Music series kicks off Sept. 3. Those who were lucky enough to get season tickets before they sold out can head to the Powerhouse at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy wine and cheese at sundown.  The vantage point from Scripps Bluff Preserve serves as a reward for making the climb up from North Beach.

Facing inland, you can see the sky progress through darkening shades of blue.

Facing the sea, you can enjoy the reds, oranges, yellows and pinks trailing our most famous star as it sets on the final moments of a Del Mar summer.