Exploring the Resurfaced SS Monte Carlo in Coronado, California


On New Years Eve in 1936, a huge storm caused the anchor chain of the S.S. Monte Carlo to snap, setting the ship adrift. After a few frantic hours, the ship ran aground on a Coronado beach, and there it was left, eventually being buried by the waves and sand, returning every so often when the weather and tides line up.

The Monte Carlo started its life as an experiment. With metal shortages due to the first World War, the government wanted to test alternative ship building materials, and ended up making a small number of ships out of concrete.

After a decade as a civilian oil tanker, in 1932 the Monte Carlo was turned into a floating casino, to be anchored off the coast of California in order to evade the state’s authorities. The ship was called the finest pleasure ship on the seas, where you could find gambling, alcohol, and women. Business was good.

Despite being off shore, that didn’t keep the authorities away, and over it’s life, the Monte Carlo had several run ins with authorities, and one run in with pirates, leading to one of the largest acts of piracy in California history.

Eventually the ship was moved to the San Diego area, to be anchored offshore at Coronado, in order to take advantage of the city’s more lax attitude and Navy presence, little did they know the ship would never leave.

With some of the lowest tides of the year lining up with a large storm just days before, we had the rare opportunity to visit the shipwreck of the Monte Carlo.

The Monte Carlo is located at 32.67428086999125, -117.17318625228116

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