Sunset Pier Walks Return to Birch Aquarium

The Scripps Pier, which is usually closed to the public, will open for tours with Birch Aquarium naturalists.
Beth Downing Chee

On September 15, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is kicking off its annual Sunset Pier Walks, giving guests the opportunity to experience breathtaking sunsets while taking a stroll on the iconic Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier. 

During Sunset Pier Walks, guests will join Birch Aquarium naturalists on an exclusive walking tour of the Scripps Pier — which is normally closed to the public — and learn about fieldwork being conducted by Scripps Oceanography researchers. The 90-minute tour features hands-on science stations where guests can scoop up plankton, examine samples under the microscope, dissect a squid and learn about local shark research. 

Guests will also have the opportunity to watch surfers and keep an eye out for wildlife — including dolphins, sea lions and leopard sharks — from this unique vantage point. 

“Fall has arrived and there’s no better time to get outdoors to learn about our local area,” said Cari Paulenich, program manager of public engagement. “The 1,090-foot-long Scripps Pier is an active, working research pier and we’re making that research accessible to the San Diego community through our Sunset Pier Walks.” 

Sunset Pier Walks run on select Saturdays and Sundays from September 15 to December 10 and cost $30 for aquarium members and $35 for the general public.  Tour times will vary with sunset times. Advanced registration is required as Pier Walks typically sell out. 

The tour requires guests to walk the length of the pier and all participants must be ages 9 or older. Participants are encouraged to dress in layers and wear comfortable walking shoes. Tours meet at the base of the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier and do not include aquarium admission. Please visit the aquarium’s website for the complete list of dates, times and details.