Scripps Pier


Scripps Pier Highlights

Location: Scripps Institute of Oceanography
La Jolla, San Diego CA (map)
Phone: (858) 534-3624
More info: Website

Located in La Jolla, CA, Scripps Pier spans 1,090 feet, built of reinforced concrete.

The oceanographic research pier was built in 1987-88 to replace the old Scripps Pier built in 1915. Scripps Pier is a familiar landmark located between La Jolla Shores and Blacks Beach, and next to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which owns and operates the pier. Best visited at low tide, Dike Rock Tide Pools is a rocky area just to the north of Scripps Pier in La Jolla. The pier and surrounding waters is located within the La Jolla Underwater Park.

The Scripps Pier Cam, sponsored and powered by, provides a streaming HD video feed of surf north and south of the pier. Find it at

Private Research Pier

The pier is lit up at night and can be seen for miles. As one of the world’s biggest research piers, Scripps Pier, not a public-use pier, is used by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography for boat launching and a variety of experiments. Data on ocean conditions and plankton taken from the pier since 1915 provide an unparalleled source of information on changes in the coastal Pacific Ocean.

The research pier also provides a supply of fresh seawater, a critical resource for a marine institution, to an array of laboratories and aquaria, including Birch Aquarium. Seawater is pumped up from the end of the pier, then filtered and stored in holding tanks. Scripps pumps about 1.8 million gallons of seawater each day.

Diving Facility and Training

Halfway down the ramp north of Scripps Pier is the Diving Facility, used since 1958 by Scripps divers to house their compressors and equipment for recharging scuba tanks and as a site for inspection and maintenance of diving equipment.

The training program for scientists using underwater breathing apparatus began at Scripps in 1951; it is the oldest program of that kind in the country, and has established many of the rules for safe diving with underwater equipment.

Pier History

The original Scripps Pier, built in 1915-1916, was a 1,000-foot-long facility for acquiring clean seawater for the campus laboratories and the public aquarium.

Ellen Browning Scripps provided all of the money ($36,000) for its construction. Scripps Pier, well built for its day, of reinforced concrete pilings and a wooden deck survived many years and storms, but extensive repairs were made to Scripps Pier in 1926 and 1946.

Major concerns about the soundness of the old Scripps Pier finally led to its total replacement. The new one, which is 1,090 feet long, was built of reinforced concrete alongside the original Scripps Pier, which was then removed.