There are definitely some negative aspects to Los Angeles' Dockweiler Beach. It's at the end of LAX's runway in Playa del Rey and sits directly below planes' flight paths, requiring beach goers to tune out and talk around low flying passenger jets.
In August 2000 an engine part actually fell off a 747 and landed on the beach. It's also adjacent to a sewage treatment plant that you can smell and overshadowed by electricity towers that you can see. Oh - and recently the beach has developed something of a gang problem.
All that said, Dockweiler remains one of LA's more interesting beaches. The west-facing shoreline's proximity to LAX also means that it's accessible by all the freeways that converge on the airport. It's got the requisite bike paths and volleyball nets. The parking lot has 2000+ spaces, more than most other state beaches.
And most importantly it has dozens and dozens of fire pits, drawing in everyone from high school kids to RV campers to weekend revelers.
The fire pits mean that Dockweiler Beach is the only place in Los Angeles County where it's actually legal to start a bonfire. The part closes at 10pm, but people who manage to get one of the pits on the "camping" side usually get to stay after closing time (at the very least, they're not actively shooed away by the local patrols). Whether you're interested in BBQ'ing on a beach or just creating some really big flames, this is the only LA location where you can do it.
Some "don't believe the anti-Dockweiler hype" notes: the beach has a reputation for poor water quality, but as long as the weather's been dry there's little to worry about. The sand is black because of natural minerals and not for any pollution-related reasons. And the locals are not nearly as scary as they seem. They might look a little rough but on the whole they're mostly salt of the earth live-and-let-bonfire types.
Know of a great beach for a (legal) bonfire? Let us know where to find it!
[Photo: kathy c. / Yelp]
· Dockweiler Beach [YYY]
· Los Angeles Travel Coverage [Jaunted]
· Beaches Coverage [Jaunted]