I’m all about discovering new places, especially when hikes are involved! The Palos Verdes shipwreck is just off of the peninsula between Redondo Beach and Long Beach, about an hour from Downtown Los Angeles. I can’t believe I’ve never visited until now because the entire area is a gem! There’s relaxing coves to swim in, clifftop views of the coastline, and a lighthouse to admire on top of numerous coastal hikes. Although the shipwreck hike is definitely a unique Los Angeles adventure, I wouldn’t recommend making a trip out here just for the hike alone. It’s cool, but not all that.
The Palos Verdes Shipwreck
The SS Dominator got trapped in shallow water off of Rocky Point in the 60s and has been sitting off the California coast ever since. The Greek freighter was transporting wheat and set to refuel in Long Beach, just around the point, but ran aground. It’s now reduced to a huge pile of rusty metal, most of which is underwater. The pieces that have washed ashore over the decades now span around half a mile of the rocky coastline.
Though not the nicest of wrecks I’ve seen, some of the metal hunks are really interesting to look at. At first glance, one large piece looks like an old tank and another one resembles a fish.
So this isn’t an actual hike like most people are used to. It’s more of a walk over boulders, which is kind of annoying. The shipwreck is located in an area that isn’t very accessible because of the steep cliffs. As far as I know, there are two ways to get there: the Drain Pipe Trail, and a hike across Lunada Bay. We chose to check out the bay and then hike to the wreck from there, which is actually the shorter of the two routes at around 1.5 miles.
Lunada Bay Trail
Park along Paseo Del Mar near Avenida Mirola in Palos Verdes Estates. You’ll find a short but steep trail down through Agua Amarga Canyon. Agua Amarga and Lunada Canyons are nature preserves and home to the endangered California gnatcatcher. There’s also lots of different types of birds hanging out along the cliff face and beach.
If it rained recently, there’s a lovely waterfall to admire on the way down. Once on the beach, walk north around the point of the bay and in about 30 minutes you’ll see the wreckage.
Drain Pipe Trail
If you want to take the other route, the start of the Drain Pipe Trail is directly off of Paseo Del Mar and Cloyden Road. The trail descends to the beach alongside a huge pipe as the name implies. This time you’ll be on the opposite side and approach the shipwreck from the north.
Be prepared for loose rocks – Nearly the entire hike is over loose rocks and boulders, so be prepared.
Wear appropriate shoes – Hiking boots are great, but we did just fine with normal sneakers.
Be cautious – There’s nothing worse than slipping off a rock into jagged shards of metal, and there are a lot.
Bring some water and a camera – Aside from the shipwreck itself, Lunada Bay and the views in the distance are definitely Insta worthy.
Don’t forget a swim suit – On calm days at low tide, there’s clear tide pools to lounge in. Just forget about surfing in the bay, locals here have a bad rap for being extra territorial.
Be quiet – See if you can spot any of the unique birds or seals that call the peninsula home.
Happy exploring! Don’t forget to leave a comment with your questions or thoughts about this hike.