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Watch The Grunion Run: You Won't Believe It!

San Diego run of the California grunion

San Diego is one of America’s great cities, full of world-class urban charms. But there’s more to the town than great restaurants, theaters, theme parks, historical sites, and shopping districts: We’re also part of a unique Southern California ecosystem with its own miraculous—and primordial—happenings.

For example: One linchpin of the San Diego year is the spring-to-summer run of the California grunion, an unassuming-looking fish that puts on an absolutely spectacular show when spawning. It’s the kind of natural wonder that must be experienced firsthand to be believed.

The Extraordinary Grunion

Grunion are small and short-lived fish renowned for their outsized nocturnal spawning theatrics on Southern Californian and Baja Californian beaches.

For several nights shouldering the new and full moons—when high tides are particularly pronounced—the grunion thrash their way onshore to dig nests and lay eggs. The sight of a female grunion drilling through glistening sand with her tail to make a nursery for her brood is an astonishing sight, as is the impressive agility of the male as he wraps around her to fertilize the eggs.

Then multiply these tiny scenes by the hundred and you have the true majesty of the grunion season: A nighttime visitor to a spawning beach sees twisting, flopping fish of silvery sheen everywhere in the briny swash—truly a sight to behold!

Come Experience a Natural Wonder

While the grunion run typically lasts between March and August, now’s the peak time—and San Diego area beaches offer prime viewing opportunities. You may even see some grunion hunters, who, properly licensed, must obtain their slippery, fast-moving quarry by hand.

These dramatic beach hijinks of the California grunion can’t be seen anywhere else in the world except our stretch of sublime coast. Our tough little fish have been enacting this reproductive ritual since time immemorial, and it’s a privilege to see in person—a reminder of a more ancient clock still ticking away here in bustling, cosmopolitan San Diego.

Book a room at the Sofia Hotel—just blocks from the Pacific—to take part in this special annual event: Come cheer the grunion on under the Southern California stars!