Dead fish are scattered all across Bombay Beach

Day Trip: Weird and mysterious curiosities at the Salton Sea

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

As I get older, I’m noticing that all of my vacations and trips require balance. Before, trips would be an overload of shopping, drinking, or sightseeing. Now, I don’t find balance until I spend a few hours walking around town and shopping, exploring natural wonders, sipping on some craft cocktails, and indulging in a spa treatment or some personal time. My last trip to Palm Springs was just as balanced: shopping, eating, sunning, and making the long trek to the Salton Sea for a weird afternoon.

Abandoned houses near the shoreline of the Salton Sea

While the entirety of Palm Desert is packed full of things to do and see at every price point, one of Southern California’s weirdest wonders is just an hour drive away. Here’s the gist if you have no idea what the Salton Sea is: an enormous and incredibly salty lake at one of the lowest elevations.

The only fish that can survive in the highly salty water are tilapia

Wikipedia says the sea was accidentally created by a flood in 1905 and is the largest lake in California. Initially, settlers want to make the Salton Sea a resort town in the 1950s before soon realizing that the water wasn’t so silky or ideal for the average beach goer.

Dead fish are scattered all across Bombay Beach

Today, Bombay Beach seems to be the big attraction with its “unique” beachfront residences and the carcasses of dead fishes that have washed up on shore. I’m pretty sure that the grainy sand is also part pulverized fish bone as very few fish species can survive the hyper salinity in the sea water.

Destruction and abandoned homes at Bombay Beach

Most of the residences have been abandoned and are now covered in spray paint and graffiti. I walked up to one and almost went inside before realizing that the dirty mattresses and trash were probably my cue to head in the other direction. There’s something eerie about Bombay Beach and if you’re into weird American culture or travel destinations, this is definitely your place.

You should definitely make a stop for the Bombay Market, which seems to be the only grocery/convenience store for miles for the couple hundred of residents in town. Take your pick at canned pastas, pickled pigs feet, boxed wine, Four Loko, TV dinners, and the like. The man at the counter was super friendly and gave us recommendations for other things to check out during our visit.

Don’t forget your souvenirs when you visit Bombay Beach!
The wine aisle at Bombay Market
Booze for days at Bombay Market

If you’re running out of things to do in Palm Springs, I recommend setting a morning aside and driving out to the Salton Sea. Talk to some locals – if there are any even out and about – get a history lesson and investigate. You’ll find it either entirely creepy or totally fascinating.

Until next time!


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