Alexis in California PT 3: Volunteering at the Oceanside Beach Cleanup

Most of you might not know this, but when I first launched this blog in July 2015, it wasn’t named after me. It was called Volunteer. Write. Explore. Those three words listed my priorities at that point in my life, in exact order.

Unfortunately, when I moved to Atlanta, one complication after the next made it impossible for me to continue my volunteer work here, though I did continue to work with animal rights organisations.

While planning my trip to California, I found out about the Morning After the Mess Beach Cleanup at Oceanside Pier, and saw the perfect opportunity to get my hands dirty. While the guys weren’t too thrilled about the idea, at first, they nonetheless threw their full support behind the plan once we got there.

Sign Up

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It took some time to locate the tent and the volunteers, but once we had, it was time to sign up. They even had forms for us to track what kind of trash we picked up that day.

They then issued gloves, bags, and sent us on our way.

Location. Location. LOCATION!

3 Morning After the Mess Beach Cleanup Sign up Ericson Quero.jpg

Of all the places to go volunteering, the beach definitely tops the list. Beach cleanups benefit a lot of animals that often go unseen and unremembered. Remember that video on Facebook where a poor turtle had a straw stuck up its nose? A beach cleanup could have prevented that.

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But there are less altruistic reasons for doing beach cleanups. Put simply – it’s beautiful.

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Busting Our Buns

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We didn’t let the beach distract us too much though. We had a job to do and we got right to it.

The tourists and residents were encouraging. Every so often passers-by would honk, or wave, and throw loud thanks outside their car windows.

“You’re doing a great job, guys! Thank you!” was something we heard every few minutes or so, while we picked up metal rods, candy wrappers, cigarettes, straws, gum, beach toys, and  tattered clothes.

Tristan O'Bryan and Ericson Quero Morning After the Mess Beach Cleanup Oceanside Pier.jpg

Our most mysterious find was what originally looked like a car mat lodged between rocks. As we started to clear the rocks to pull it out, we realised the mat was really wedged under there with some metal wiring.

We still have no idea what it was, and whether it should be there or not… Have you guys ever seen anything like this at the beach, before? I certainly never came across anything like it in Jamaica, or anywhere else.

Tally Time

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Once we were done cleaning up, it was time to tally up our “scores” for the garbage we had collected. I think they collect the information to better understand what pollutes the beaches in California.

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We have to hand it to the Californians though: their beaches are clean. While we definitely found garbage once we kept a keen eye out, and peered beneath rocks, garbage was by no means just laying about on the beach.

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I was impressed, to say the very least. I wish Jamaica would take a page out of their book. Unfortunately, volunteering isn’t a big part of Jamaican culture. Time is money, and in the third world where money is harder to come by, people are stingy with their work time, especially when it’s not paid for.

If you’re too busy in your regular life to volunteer, and get the opportunity to give your time charitably while traveling, then go for it. It’s a really satisfying feeling to leave a place slightly better than it was when you got there.

The Reward


Needless to say, we worked up quite the appetite on the beach. Sun, salt, and work is always a recipe for hunger.

We first considered eating out, but then Ericson – a former chef at a fancy Italian restaurant in Vegas – suggested we make something at home instead.

We headed for ALDI, bought everything we needed and then went home to play music and make a mess of the kitchen. And what a delicious mess it was! Ericson is an excellent chef! Check out our spread. Yum!

After dinner, the itis took hold of us, so we had a relaxing day and cancelled our snorkeling trip to La Jolla. We would pay for that the following day. But that’s a story for another post – same time next week!

When was the last time you volunteered? What kind of volunteer work was it? Have you ever taken on a volunteer project on vacation? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Alexis Chateau Black Cat

My trip to California was sponsored by Alexis Chateau PR and booked by our in-house travel agents. Is there a country or city you’ve always dreamed of seeing with your own eyes? Then stop dreaming, and start traveling.

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10 thoughts on “Alexis in California PT 3: Volunteering at the Oceanside Beach Cleanup

  1. Last summer we found a dead whale on a Nova Scotia beach. Once in Oregon, I found a dead cow among the driftwood. Thank goodness I didn’t have to clean either one up.

  2. Wow – that food looks amazing. Also, all the beaches I’ve been to on the West Coast have been remarkably clean. That includes locations in Northern Cali and in Seattle. Unfortunately those places have all been too cold to the beaches seem like fun destinations.

    1. It tasted as good as it looks for sure. Best home-cooked meal I’ve had in a while.

      So it’s not just San Diego that’s clean? That’s awesome. The only litter I saw was seaweed at La Jolla.

      The beaches are really cold. It’s best to go on a very hot day. 😂

  3. Wow! That sounds amazing, Alexis! Who’d have thought of volunteering on vacation, but it sounds like it was a very rewarding experience and it’s nice to hear that beaches on the West Coast are so clean. It truly is a shame the same can’t be said for other locations, but maybe the idea will spread. 🙂

    1. Leave it to me to think of volunteering on vacation! 😂 I’m definitely glad I did.

      I don’t know about the whole west coast, but the ones we went to in San Diego were clean, for sure.

      Kudos to them for managing to keep that up, with so many people using the beach!

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