Joe Ditler won fourth place competing in the Lorton Mitchell Memorial Longboard contest last November. Photo taken by Derek Enge, courtesy of Joe Ditler.

Almost every night, Joe Ditler plops a chair in front of what used to be called Shipwreck Beach (now referred to as Stan’s), props his feet up on the ledge, and watches the sun’s vibrant colors set over the water. 

He calls the area “poo park” for the dogs that frequent it’s grassy pad.

Maybe a vodka cran in hand, Ditler talks to passersby and listens to Tom Petty or the Eagles on a speaker. 

I tend to drift back to the soundtrack of my youth.”

-Joe Ditler.

“I tend to drift back to the soundtrack of my youth,” Ditler said. 

Ditler enjoying “poo park” with his feet up on the ledge. Photo courtesy of Joe Ditler.

“Coronado Confidential”

Open up the pages of Ditler’s 2019 book “Coronado Confidential,” and the reader will drift back to Coronado during the great age of rock and roll in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Soundtrack in mind, the book provides stunning and enthralling stories that leap to life off of the page, describing Coronado in the days before the bridge saturated the island with people. 

Ditler has an unending appetite for a good story.

Not just a good story, but a unique story, impossible to duplicate, a story that makes the listener go, “there’s no way that would happen in Coronado.” 

But it did.

And the truth is found in the pages of his book “Coronado Confidential,” where he captivates readers with the real descriptions of an era of Rock and Roll in a small town.  

Passion over paycheck

As Ditler says in his book, he chose passion over paycheck long ago, propelling him into a career of storytelling in all forms — writer, photographer, advertising salesman, editor and publisher, author, freelancer, ghost writer, speech writer and his latest endeavor, living obituaries. 

“I am grateful and I’ve been blessed to have interviewed and written about some of the great people in Coronado.”

-Joe Ditler.

“I am grateful and I’ve been blessed to have interviewed and written about some of the great people in Coronado,” Ditler said. “And I’m proud of that because there’s something that’s going to live on about those people whether they were famous or not.”

Ditler is a former writer with the Los Angeles Times, editor-at-large with SAILING magazine, past bureau chief with The Log Newspapers and owner of Part-Time PR.

He has 15 years of executive experience with museums and specializes in Coronado and maritime history.

From Muscoy to Coronado

He moved from Muscoy in San Bernardino County to the island at 15 years old in 1967, and he has lived in Coronado ever since. 

Young Ditler at his home in Muscoy before moving to Coronado. Photo courtesy of Joe Ditler.

“I came from an inland empire to a paradise on the beach and I’ve never not been grateful for that,” Ditler said. “I think some people have said, ‘You sacrificed what could have been a brilliant career because you stayed in Coronado.’ This place was heaven on earth to me. I hope I can afford to live here until I die.”

“The Coronado Storyteller”

Known as the “Coronado Historian ” and the “Coronado Storyteller,” Ditler’s ability to tell a good story is reflected in the plethora of stories he has of his own.  

His own experiences range from teaching scuba diving classes and covering celebrity tennis events, to organizing nautical film classic movies projected on the mast of the Star of India and being hired for a brief stint by popcorn legend Orville Redenbacher to write his book.
The list could go on, and at 72 this year, Ditler’s appetite for adventure is still going strong. 

Ditler won the Soul Surfer trophy at the Lorton Mitchell Memorial Longboard Contest. Photo courtesy of Joe Ditler.

In recent years, he still finds time to catch a wave, proven by the fourth place trophy he received in the Legend’s Division (60 and over) of the Lorton Mitchell Memorial Longboard Contest last November.

He was also presented with the Soul Surfer trophy for giving back to his community through the sport and his writing.

Due to a long bout with Covid, bad surf and heart surgery, Ditler has not surfed since that competition.

“I promise you, I will surf again,” Ditler said.

To read Ditler’s “Coronado Confidential” and hear more of his stories, contact him at

For those in Coronado, he will personally give them a book and sign something special on the inside.

“I wake up in the morning and I pray,” Ditler said. “There are visual blessings on earth, and here in Coronado we have more than our fair share. It’s hypnotic. I never get enough of it.”

Ditler never paddles out without first dropping a knee and thanking God. He said the shot captures everything important in his life. Photo taken by Donna Grace Alexander, courtesy of Joe Ditler.

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Sofie Fransen is a staff writer for The Coronado News. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University, majoring in English-Education and minoring in Journalism. She was the Opinion Editor of The Point student newspaper. In the summers, she has been commercial fishing for the sockeye salmon run in Alaska. She can be reached by email or at 360-527-5848.