San Diego’s Fiesta Island wasn’t always the cyclist’s paradise you see today.
As recently as the 1990’s, the peninsular park marooned inside Mission Bay housed 130 acres of sewage sludge drying beds – you know, the stuff leftover once wastewater has been pumped through a treatment facility. In 1989, then-chairman of the Sierra Club’s conservation committee Alan Sakarias went so far as to call the area “San Diego’s toilet.” Gross.
Thankfully, time has been a boon for the little island that could. Along with much of Mission Bay, it’s been transformed into a natural respite for city dwellers, complete with public beaches, hidden coves, bonfire rings, a youth camp, and of course a glorious 4-mile cycling loop.
If wide swaths of flat, nearly car-free beachside biking tickle your fancy, Fiesta Island is a must-ride. There is no technical bike lane to speak of since cyclists are legally permitted to occupy the entire roadway, and because the loop is one-way headed in a counterclockwise direction you’ll never have to worry about oncoming traffic (except for the wind, which can admittedly get brutal at times).
Find the Perfect Ride for Cycling the Fiesta Island Loop:
Just a few notes worth remembering: the speed limit around Fiesta Island is 25 mph. While you’re unlikely to encounter many John Q. Laws waiting atop the dunes to snag speeding cyclists, it’s never a bad idea to keep things legal. Also, the loop is a favorite for local cycling clubs, so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon one of the races, time trials, or circuit practice rides that take place here with relative frequency.
Last but not least, if you’re looking to extend your ride there are no shortage of bike paths/lanes throughout the surrounding Mission Bay area. Nearby Mission Beach is a staple of the San Diego scene, and as good a place as any to replenish your fluids after a few hard laps around one of the city’s most surprisingly enjoyable cycling destinations.