Avila Beach, the Hard Luck Village in Central Coastal California, USA
Once a foreign port, the old Avila Beach featured a railroad pier for unloading ships docked in the harbor. This, the original Custom House and much of the historical buildings are now gone due to a massive oil spill as a result of a leak from Unocal oil storage facilities in the 1990’s. After years of negotiation, Unocal agreed to pay for the cleanup, which required the demolition of many of the town’s home and businesses and excavation of the contaminated soil.
The new Avila Beach downtown received a second blow in 2003 to its new business, tourism, after a fatal shark attack. Fortunately it quickly recovered and with the ongoing construction of new luxury condominiums and upscale stores, it is one of the hidden jewels on California’s central coast.
Avila Beach is an unincorporated area in San Luis Obispo County, California, USA with a population of 797, located about 160 miles (257 km) northwest of Los Angeles. The town was established in the latter half of the 19th century, when it served as the main shipping port for San Luis Obispo. Although Avila Beach still has a working commercial fishing pier and the inland areas have extensive apple orchards, tourism is now the main industry.
The beach itself is less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long and sheltered in San Luis Bay, which is formed by Point San Luis on the west and Fossil Point on the east. Avila Beach faces south and is protected from the prevailing northwesterly winds by Point San Luis. It is therefore usually warmer than the other beaches on the Central Coast.
Avila Beach has three piers: Avila Beach Pier, 1,685 feet long, intended for tourist strolling and recreational fishing, Harford Pier, for commercial fishing boats to offload their wares, and the California Polytechnic University Pier, part of the university's marine research program and not publicly accessible. Avila is also known for its hot springs, which are used for resort spas.
My photos of Avila Beach are below.
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