After visiting the Santa Monica Pier, I did learn a few things. For one, the Pier's wood creeks and you can easily step onto a bolt and trip. It almost happened to me. Second, the water in September is extremely cold. I did not see a single swimmer in the ocean. Third, there is an amusement park there.
I would love to return to the beach during the summer. However, the 20 minutes I spent at the Santa Monica Pier during the freezing month of September was enough to satisfy my curiosity, at least for now.