Collage of Imperial Beach
Portwood Pier Plaza

“Surfhenge” consists of four 16-20 foot high surfboard shaped arches, weighing up to three-quarters of a ton each, which are believed to be the largest colored acrylic moldings ever cast. Alluding to giant surfboards stuck in the sand, the huge colored shapes of Surfhenge pay homage to the proud surfing heritage of Imperial Beach. Surfhenge and the refurbished IB Portwood Pier Plaza were dedicated in July 18, 1999. Photo courtesy of the Port of San Diego

Location: Seacoast Drive at the foot of Evergreen Avenue
Hours: 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Map to Portwood Pier Plaza


  • 12 Picnic Tables
  • Tot Lot
  • Access to Pier
  • Off Street Parking
  • Grass Area

At Portwood Pier Plaza, you will find grassy expanses, picnic areas, a tot-lot, entertainment stage, access to the pier and beach and many tributes to Imperial Beach’s long history as a surfing destination. This surfing history began just south of the park

in an area called the Tijuana Sloughs. The Sloughs’s big waves were first surfed by the legendary waterman Dempsey Holder in 1937. Starting in the 1940s, these waves became the testing ground for mainlanders going to Hawai’i. Surfers from all over Southern California made the journey to Imperial Beach to surf the then-biggest waves off the continental United States. One of these surfers was Bob Simmons, “Father of the Modern Surfboard”, who applied the principles of hydrodynamics to surfboard design and forever changed the sport of surfing. In 1950, he moved to Imperial Beach.

The history of Imperial Beach’s big wave surfing can be explored through the colorful collection of surfboard benches at Portwood Pier Plaza. A tribute to the history of surf board design, each bench bears a plaque that tells the story of how Imperial Beach’s big waves had an impact on the surfing pioneers from 1937 to the 1950s. The crowning piece of the plaza is Surfhenge – a towering colorful public art monument to surfing.

(text based on “Legendary Surfers” by Malcolm Gault-Williams)

Currently, Air Jumps are not permitted at Portwood Pier Plaza

Currently, parks are on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you plan to have 50 people or more at your event, you will need to complete a Special Event Application with the city and pay all required fees and deposits.

If you have questions about Special Events, please contact 1+619+4238223.

Back to Beaches, Parks, and Recreation Main Page

Home | Feedback Form | Online Payments | City Council Agenda | City Events | City News | Emergency Preparedness | Employment | Forms & Applications | General Plan | 2018 RIB CAP/LCP/GP Update | Municipal Code | Sea Level Rise | Zoning Map / Information | Site Map | Resident | Government | Business | Visitor | Contact Us
powered by