Remember When is a series of photos and stories of South Orange County; what it was like growing up here and the stories that shaped our lives. There is much history and individual stories that make up the fabric of the communities we live in. We welcome new stories and pictures from any of you that were fortunate enough to have grown up in an area where there was open space at the end of every street and an adventure just around the corner.
Shark Attack at San Clemente Pier

San Clemente Pier was a magical place. There was always alot of activity with the charter fishing boats coming and going, the restaurant at the end of the pier and the town square feel. My parents had been living in San Clemente since the 30's and it was exciting each and every day as a kid.

I was surfing near the pier in the mid 60's and the fishing boats were in full swing. The Dana Point Harbor had not been built yet, so all the fishing boats would load and unload on the lower dock attached to the pier on the southside. I remember it was always interesting, if not downright entertaining trying to board the boats under the pier. You would wait on the creeky old stairs for the big swells to pass and time your boarding perfectly. Otherwise you were going head first into the boat.

As I was having a great day surfing I could see all the activity of the boats and fishermen on the pier. I went to step off my board and I put my foot right into a shark's mouth. I had put my full body weight into it so the teeth immediately punctured my foot. As I pulled it up it was a bloody mess. It was a good sized shark and I yelled for the lifeguards.

As there was no Dana Point Harbor, everything happened at the pier. Not only did the boats launch from the pier and anchor outside for the night, but the fisherman would often "clean" their fish at the pier as well. As I hobbled over to the lifeguard stand I was picturing this big shark that had just attacked me...but I knew it was only the head that had been carelessly discarded by one of the fisherman at the Pier.

The lifeguards looked in earnest for the shark head in the waves, or even the fisherman that had caught it. This was to no avail as I was transported to the emergency room at the South Coast Hospital in Laguna Beach (pre-San Clemente Hospital).

by Barry Berg

If you have a story you would like to share with our readers or add to this San Clemente Pier story please send the words to with a picture if you have one. Thanks goes to those that have documented this magical place.
Other Stories:

Coming Soon, stories of (you can add to any of these stories click here):

  • Poche's Rites of Passage where the older guys initiate the younger guys by throwing them in the "pit"
  • The Wall where Steve McQueen, Malcolm, Bruce Browne and others attempted to reach the top
  • The Giant Octopus that was king of Seal Rock outside Dana Point
  • Hanging out at the Folgners (the old Villa Hotel)

South Laguna History El Camino Real 1957
Del Mar 1958 San Clemente Pier 1927