Shipwreck Hike: Wreck of the Greek Dominator in Rancho Palos Verdes

Before I heard about this hike, I never realized there was a ship wreck that I could hike to only an hour from my house. I set out to instantly rectify that, and for a short hike like this it is pretty amazing to have such a unique reward at the end. If you are OK with uneven terrain the entire time then you really need to go explore the ruins of the SS Dominator.

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  • 2 miles round trip
  • 150 feet of elevation
  • Bring good hiking shoes


In 1961, due to both fog and problems with the navigation of the ship, a Greek freight ship ran aground on the coast of California right near the city of Rancho Palos Verdes. For days the coast guard and others tried to get the boat back into the water, but the weather that had grounded it there also kept it from being freed. Mother Nature then ran its course and continued to beat upon the ship turning it into the remains that it is today. Here is an image of the ship when it crashed taken from Wikipedia.

The Hike

If you look this up on Yelp they will tell you a very different starting area then I am, I did this because when I was there on a weekday the parking situation was horrible. One side of the street is no parking 8-11AM and the other side is no parking 11-5PM. I saw a parking enforcement person giving out lots of tickets, so we looked for a different way to the ruins.

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We parked at the first place you could head down after the initial trailhead which for us ended up being on the corner of Paseo del Mar and Avenida Mirola. This area is a beautiful bluff that you can just relax at as you take in the ocean and cove below, or you can hike down the steep incline like we did and start the trail.

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Be very careful if you walk down from here!¬†The incline here is very steep and doesn’t have a lot of protection from slipping so make sure to watch your step and do not attempt if you don’t feel comfortable. You can see the path in the photo below

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When you reach the bottom you will proceed North, which is to the right. initially we went to the left but ended up walking for like a mile and seeing nothing so we returned and went the correct way, which was to the right. This is a beautiful area with lots of amazing views.

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This trail walks for pretty much the entire time on loose rocks. Hiking shoes are a must as they will hopefully keep your ankles from giving out as you cross.

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We saw a lot of things on our walk from a dead seal to sea urchins. We also saw a seal frolicking in the water and a few unique birds.

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The trail continues around the cove and when you reach the bend you will see a small little seating area cut out of the cliff, if you see this you are going the right way.

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From here continue around the next bend and you will see the wreckage.

The Wreckage

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The wreckage itself is a lot more than I anticipated. I figured it would only be scattered pieces on the ground, but it has a couple large pieces of the hull and an old crane that you can explore.

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The juxtaposition of the ruins and the water was very interesting and I took a lot of pictures of it. Here are some of my favorites.

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One of the most unique parts is the old crane located at the end of the wreckage. It is very well preserved and super strange to see in the area. Be careful if you get near this stuff as it is very rusty and sharp.

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It is in good shape as well and you can actually walk around the entire piece still.

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I can’t pass up the picture that everyone on social media said looked like a fish too!

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After that you simply walk back and up the steep hill you came in on. Here is a video I made that should help you understand the area better.

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have been on this hike make sure to leave them in the comments.

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About JoshMc

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