Obscura Society LA: Sunken Ship Hike - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Palos Verdes Estates, California

Obscura Society LA: Sunken Ship Hike

Investigate the rusty ruin of a wrecked freighter.

Join Field Agent Erin Johnson as we explore the shipwreck of the S.S. Dominator, a 400-foot Greek freighter which accidentally ran aground on the rocky beach of Palos Verdes Estates in 1961.

A lot of mystery surrounds how exactly the Dominator got there – maybe lost on its way to fueling up at Long Beach or perhaps unable to see the approaching cliffside because of low visibility – but once it did get there,  it wasn't leaving. Today, most of the giant ship is still scattered over a half mile area, in increasingly smaller pieces as time passes – some underwater in the Pacific Ocean, and lots still on the rocky shore, never washed away by the tide. Among the wreckage on the shore are smoke stacks, a crane, and remnants of other equipment on the ship used to carry wheat from Portland to Algiers – as well as at least one large piece remaining from when the Dominator broke into two pieces.

While exploring the wreckage on the shore, we'll discuss the history of the S.S. Dominator and learn more about what happens to ships during their second life underwater. 

Notes for this adventure:

This a STRENUOUS hike. Attendees should be in top physical shape and ready for a challenging two mile trek without any shade.  We will access the shore via the Drain Pipe Trail, a very steep climb down the cliffs. The majority of this hike is along the shore, through loose jumbled rocks with poor footing.

Be prepared to work up a sweat and bring lots of water! We will be hiking at a moderate pace. Wear hiking boots or sturdy footwear and sun protection (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, etc). We are exploring during low tide and are not going into the water, but prepare to get a little wet.

We may encounter dead animals (seals, birds, etc.), bad smells, and bugs (flying, crawling, or otherwise).

We will NOT be climbing on top of or inside any of the wreckage.

Recommended for ages 16+

No dogs or other pets. 

Check weather conditions ahead of time: this is a beach walk that can be chilly, damp and windy in the morning even in the summer.

No restrooms / bathroom facilities at the trailhead or along the trail. Please go before you arrive!

Street parking is available on Paseo Del Mar, but limited and in a residential area. Please be respectful of the neighbors, and carpool if possible.

A signed liability waiver will be required from all attendees

Advance Tickets Only. No Refunds or Exchanges.

Stay connected! Subscribe to the LA Obscura Society newsletter and be the first to find out about upcoming events. 

The Atlas Obscura book is here! Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, “Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” celebrates more than 600 of the strangest and most curious places in the world. Pre-order and receive free enamel pin.