Hermosa ("beautiful" in Spanish) is an accurate description of this city's beach, which is also flat, sandy, and long; ideal for sunbathing, beach volleyball, surfing and paddleboarding. The city itself is only about 15 blocks from east to west and 40 blocks from north to south, with the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to the locals) running down the middle. Situated on the Pacific Ocean, Hermosa's average temperature is 70 degrees in the summer and 55 degrees in the winter. Gentle westerly sea breezes take the edge off what can be high summertime temperatures in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the county. The same breezes help keep the smog away 360 days of the year.
A paved path, called The Strand, runs along Hermosa's beach from Redondo Beach in the south approximately twenty miles north to Santa Monica. A typical day on this path will see thousands of people on foot, bicycle, skateboard, rollerblade and stroller enjoying the sun and surf. A live image of the Strand and surf can be seen here.
Surfing is a key element of the South Bay lifestyle year-round. Powerful winter storms in the Pacific Ocean can turn typically placid and rolling South Bay waves into large and occasionally dangerous monsters, a natural draw for the local surfing population. The Summer provides warm water and typically smaller waves for beginners to learn.
Beach volleyball is another important aspect of Hermosa Beach's lifestyle. Hermosa Beach has been referred to as the Beach Volleyball Capital of the World. The wide and flat sand beaches provide the perfect venue for the sport. Permanent poles and nets are maintained by the city year-round.
THE EARLY HISTORY of HERMOSA BEACH, CALIFORNIA by Fern Rhein
Hermosa Beach was originally part of the ten-mile Ocean frontage of Rancho Sausal Redondo. In the year of 1900 a tract of fifteen hundred acres was purchased for $35.00 per acre from A. E. Pomroy, then owner of the greater part of Rancho Sausal Redondo. Messrs. Burbank and Baker, agents, bought this land for Sherman and Clark who organized and retained the controlling interest in the Hermosa Beach Land and Water Company,
In early days, Hermosa Beach like so many of its neighboring cities - Inglewood, Lawndale, Torrance - was one vast sweep of rolling hills covered with fields of grain, mostly barley. During certain seasons of the year large herds of sheep were grazed over this land, and corrals and large barns for storing the grain, as well as providing shelter for horses and farm implements were located on the ranch between Hermosa and Inglewood. The Spanish words, Rancho Sausal Redondo, mean a large circular ranch of pasture of grazing land, with a grove of willows on it.
Old time residents claim that the climate in early days was much pleasanter than at present, being warmer and having less fog; but much sand was always blowing from across the sand dunes. Mrs. Dorcas Ingram, early resident and author, wrote a pleasing bit of verse about Hermosa in which she describes the beach wind in these few lines:
"But my inmost being shrank
From the greeting chill and dank
Of a wind forever blowing
O'er the sand dunes of Hermosa."
One can visualize those early uninhabited sandhills as they stretched along the coast in dreary wastes of fine white sand, and a wind forever blowing it in clouds across the gentle slopes of green hills beyond. We can imagine, too, the gold of sand flowers blooming and the purple wild verbena trailing their flower wreaths over every mound from one sand dune to another.
It must have made a beautiful picture for one who stood on the hills beyond the dunes on an early morning, looking at the panoramic view of the distant Santa Monica Mountains pushing their way far out into the sea on the north, the green Palos Verdes hills on the south, and perhaps, if the day was clear of haze, see Catalina Island in the distance. Directly in front lay the boundless Pacific lashing far distant shores of the Orient as it, at the same time, drove its mighty cavalcade of "sea horses" with white manes flying, dashing across the gleaming sands in rolling breakers that washed the level beach reaching for ten miles from Santa Monica to Redondo.
We can easily understand why those early pioneers, far visioned, planning for a future prosperous, home-loving city, named it Hermosa, meaning "beautiful." Only this softly accented Spanish word could express their delight in its natural beauty; and always to those pioneers who are still living, has it remained not only "home" but "hermosa."
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