The Coronado Islands Yacht Club offered gambling and liquor. (San Diego History Center)

Pirates, gamblers, and L. Ron Hubbard: the history of the Islas Coronados

Peer out to sea from the southernmost stretch of California coast, and you can catch a glimpse of four rocky isles. Many San Diegans are unaware of Mexico’s Islas Coronados, but their history and natural beauty are captivating. The rugged islands have attracted Mexican pirates, Russian otter hunters, Japanese fishermen, and American rumrunners.

In 1933, a San Diego lumber merchant partnered with a Mexican builder to open a casino and speakeasy on South Island. Al Capone, Errol Flynn, and Charlie Chaplin were said to have paid visits. Within a year, however, the U.S. had repealed Prohibition and Mexico banned gambling. The casino was doomed. About 10 years later, the captain of a U.S. Navy submarine chaser gave orders to shell the isles for target practice. The Mexican government angrily protested, and the officer was relieved of his command. His name: L. Ron Hubbard. S.D. Union-Tribune

Recently, some Spanish-speaking YouTubers toured the ruins of the casinoYouTube

This article is from the California Sun, a newsletter that delivers must-read stories to your inbox each morning . Sign up here.

Get your daily dose of the Golden State.