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Rumor goes that the tunnel used to lead to a house, but has since been closed off and the entrance to the house covered. Having been inside, I can see where the tunnel most likely took you to and it is not to a house. Check out these photos of what Sunset Cliffs used to look like:

There is a lot of rubble in this area, my guess is it the rubble of the ruins that used to be there. My point is things looked much differently than they do now. I have heard that there used to be homes directly along the cove. There most likely used to be a home that lead to the tunnel that no longer exists. Now all that remains is a closed up hole by the city leading to this amazing spot and broken rubble below. 

Here are some stories I was able to get off the internet:

“Smugglers from Mexico would navigate their dinghies up the little tunnel to a small underground elevator. This is a story I heard from my Grandparents and Uncles (who relocated to Ocean Beach after the war.) The tunnels are said to be all blocked off these days. I myself as a child would go hunting for these Prohibition Era caves.”

“When I was in the navy in the late 1980s, my home port was in the San Francisco bay area, every so often we would fly to San Diego for training at a naval facility just north of Point Loma. Some nights we would go to the cave to light a fire, drink, and relax, this was 1988. I remember a skull carved in the wall that had candles in its eyes. I carved Van Halen logo, and my nickname, the Sappster. I wonder if those are still there.”

“I was just in there last night with a couple friends, needless to say it’s a sketchy experience. I fell 15 feet down a hole into a pool of stagnent water. pitch black. couldn’t see anything. I had to swim under water to get out to the ocean, and find my way to shore so I could climb up to the main road and meet up with my friends again. sketchiest moment of my life.” My advice: DON’T GO AT NIGHT!

“So i was showing those cave pics to a friend of mine(older guys)…great shots by the way joe and thanks for posting them…great memories…”i wonder if anybody has seen them that well lit up before in about 80 years or so”… and my aunty(hanai) says…”oh yeah…thats my grandfathers cave…WHAT?!?!…yeah the tunnel comes out under my old house and my grandfather used to smuggle booze through there…it got walled up many years ago before we sold the house…i doubt the new owners even know its there or where it was…”

Personal Experience: If you find it, come prepared with proper safety gear, good traction shoes, flashlight and candles to light the hallways! There was a draft the day we went so our candles kept blowing out. There are dangerous areas where you could fall into the water or back down to the bottom of the cave. Be very careful.

Other than that, it’s like San Diego’s own little Goonie’s cave! There are multiple hallways that have been carved out with candle holders for the smugglers to see their way through. It sure is a trip to know this little secret is right below an area that thousands of people walk over monthly!

One of 3 entrances to this cave:

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It’s hard to tell from this photo, but that is a steep drop if you accidentally fall. This was the scariest part for me:

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15 Reviews

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15 Reviews


  • Mitch Hull
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    Native Obeachen, when I was 8 years old in 1964 I first found this cave. Over the years I’ve heard some stories. Here are a few. The cave was a perfect starting point for the rum and gun runners at that time. Upon entering the cave from the water and walking up the steeps you would steep into darkness, and during the knight is when the runners came in. They could not use light as to not be found out, so they had to know there way. The stories say that the holes were much larger and deeper then and had traps in them. One of these traps was a cage that would let your leg go through and get cough in downward spikes.You could get killed if you did not know your yay. These people were not playing around. Half way through the cave I myself found where the tunnel was filled in that went under the road to a house that is no longer there. People came from as far as 50 miles to receive booze and guns from that house. Also women were taken away to boats for trade. Now hears the creepy part, there was a cave in during a knight run that exposed there traffic and they lost two men inside the cave that were never dug out. Then the rest was filled in by the police without this knowledge. We will never know unless the tunnel is re-dug out. Maybe you can look into this some more. Ether was I feel we all know much less about the people the boats and all the circumstances around this mystery than we could find out. Sounds like a movie in the making. As far as your explanation and insight on this site, I appreciate your poetic and artistic twist. Very nice, keep it up. However I’m more into the mystery. Thanks MITCH

    December 4, 2014

  • To AJ
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    It was cemented shut long before we knew about it.

    March 8, 2015

  • Aj
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    It was ur fault it got cemented closed. Every dope spot in san diego gets destroyed because of this stupid love website

    March 8, 2015

  • Jessica
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    Is this place permanently closed down? I have directions to here ,but when I go to the location I can’t find it. Not from the small hole to crawl in through ,but by the shore when it is low tide.

    March 31, 2015

  • pink house
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    my grandparents live in the pink house across the street. yes there was a tunnel for this purpose and it has been closed off.

    May 1, 2015

  • Dani
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    I believe there’s really only two ways to get to these caves. You either jump off the cliff and swim over, or climb down the “dangerous cliff” side and make your way around. I jumped off and swam over without knowing there was a cave system. I’m glad I know the history of it now. Since it’s summer now, I believe a lot of people have been getting caught by the popo, so I don’t recommend doing that at this time.

    June 26, 2015

  • Juan Soto
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    ‘m sorry to burst all your bubbles but it is not a prohibition rum runner cave entrance to anything… Albert Spaulding of Chicago purchased the cliffs and created a wonderland of bridges and platforms with Ocean Views and he also created “Spalding’s Pool” which is what we locals today call “The Arch” It is a right of passage for a lot of us…those who were brave enough to enter the cave underneath entered a passage created for the wealthy’s leisure… yeah possibly there was an odd boat bringing prohibited liquor from a anchored ship.. Possibly…. but if you look at the layout, from the top they carved out a spiral walkway that lead to the right for the cave and the sand accessible at low tide or to the left that lead to the POOL which is now full of rotten seaweed for they filled it with riprock to save the cliffs above from the constant bombardment of the ocean waves… That’s it! Sorry..

    September 11, 2015

  • Drew McGill
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    Nice article. I shot that video at the bottom of the article. Super neat cave system.

    December 24, 2015

  • Jade Meneguel
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    Omg. this is awesome! have to check it out! 😀

    March 19, 2016

  • Pam Pendarvis
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    I was in this cave with by bro Jonny when we were children. Our father told us these cool stories. So cool to find this website to prove truthfulness.

    August 26, 2016

  • karin
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    That was awesome reading about the Rum Runners cave, I had no idea, been here forever! Thanks!!!

    October 5, 2016

  • Manni
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    This is great! I’ve always heard about this place but never been.

    October 6, 2016

  • Anna
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    John P. Mills built the “Pink Mansion,” and my father, Dr. Joseph A. Ryan M.D., and I went to visit John before his death. He was living in Tarzana, Ca with his lovely wife of that time. In his own words he told us all the “truths” of creating the caves and building the wonderful “Pink Mansion. He also supplied us with photos never been seen before. We believe it is wonderful to have some mystery remainong around the caves and the Mansion. Bottom line, prohibition didnt stop some wonderful parties in the Mansion and the rum wasnt bootlegged on the property! Enjoy folks enjoy!

    December 31, 2016

  • Donny
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    When I was in high school in the early-80’s we would go to Sunset Cliffs to party in the caves. Back then you could access the caves by jumping over a 6′ chain link fence that surrounded what looked like a hole on top of the cliffs. Somehow I vaguely remember talk of several caves there, but we only went in the one that had the skull carved in the wall that also had carved niches in the walls for candles. We always went at night and there were always other kids around partying……..cops never seemed to bust us or break up the parties.

    February 6, 2019

  • Miro
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    Not telling you how to find it, must be invited, it tis the way.

    December 1, 2020

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