Snorkeling in La Jolla: 5 Things to Know Before You Go

There’s a reason (okay, maybe several) that the La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park is one of the top ten places in the world for snorkeling. Together, the Park and Reserve span 6,000 acres of ocean bottom and tidelands, from Scripps Park across La Jolla Shores all the way to Torrey Pines. From the seven sea caves to the variety of brightly-colored sea creatures, the Underwater Park and nearby La Jolla Cove have become destinations for snorkelers and scuba divers from around the world. Here are just a few reasons why snorkeling La Jolla Cove and the Underwater Park/Ecological Reserve should beat the top of your bucket list!

1. You never know what you might see.

La Jolla is home to an incredible variety of sea creatures and provides a rare opportunity to see marine life up close and personal. The warmer-than-usual water and protected cove attracts fish and mammals from all along the coast; snorkelers and divers have reported seeing Garibaldi, octopus, urchins, dolphins, sea turtles, leopard sharks, sea stars, shovel nose guitar fish, schools of fish big and small; and of course, playful seals and sea lions.

2. You can snorkel through some pretty magical sea caves.

Where else in San Diego can you actually swim through an entire sea cave? La Jolla Cove is home to seven caves, the biggest of which is Clam Cave (just offshore from Goldfish Point Cafe); when the tide allows, visitors can delight in snorkeling or kayaking through it to the other side. The other six are viewable from the water, and there is usually a plethora of marine life clustered near the caves at any time; which makes for some great snorkeling!

3. Leopard sharks: thousands of them!

Between the months of June and December, snorkelers can experience swimming among the largest annual gathering of leopard sharks along the coast of California. Each year, thousands of pregnant female sharks migrate to the beaches near La Jolla Cove, where the warmer, calm water helps their young develop faster. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that you can’t find anywhere else in California – it’s an absolute must-do if you enjoy snorkeling!

4. You can explore one of the region’s only underwater canyons.

Within the Ecological Reserve, the bottom takes a sudden and drastic 500-foot- plunge into the La Jolla Underwater Canyon (which reaches depths of up to 600 feet!). It’s exactly these unique features that make snorkeling in La Jolla such an incredible experience! Fun fact: a giant concrete map of the underwater park was completed in 2008 at La Jolla Shores; you can find it near the boardwalk between the restrooms and the children’s play area at the south end of Kellogg Park.

About La Jolla Underwater Park: it was created by the City of San Diego in 1970, and both the Ecological Reserve and the Marine Life Refuge lie within it. The Reserve is federally protected, and fishing or collecting of any kind is outlawed; because of this, marine life has flourished over the years – which makes for some fantastic snorkeling!

5. And there’s a secret underwater graveyard!

Two underwater canyons, two artificial reefs, and a kelp forest all span 6,000 acres underwater, making the Park and Reserve visually beautiful and geographically fascinating. There is one feature of the underwater canyon, however, that is especially unique: a secret underwater graveyard! Just beyond the coastline, about 100 yards out from the La Jolla Cove Bridge Club and 35 feet underwater, lies an eerie underwater memorial is unofficially known as “Tombstones.”

There are no bodies as the name implies, only several markers that are dedicated to fallen spear fishermen and members of the “Bottom Scratchers,” the first documented diving and spearfishing club in North America. Over time, markers have been placed for other fallen free divers and locals. The tradition began all the way back in the 1940s and has continued up to present day.

Snorkeling La Jolla Tour Information

So the next time you’re in La Jolla, we definitely recommend snorkeling around La Jolla Cove and the La Jolla Underwater Park/Ecological Reserve! You can venture out on your own if you feel comfortable doing so (rentals are available from shops at La Jolla Shores), or you can take a guided tour with experienced professionals. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try a combination kayak/snorkeling tour – it’s the best of both worlds!

Interested in more water activities while you’re here? Scuba diving and kayaking are also great ways to explore the underwater world of La Jolla!

It’s Grunion Run Season! 5 Things to Know Before You Go

They flop around, surf the waves, and make sweet love under the moonlight: the season of the grunion run has begun! On beaches all throughout Southern California, you’ll get the chance to experience these strange little creatures up close; and La Jolla has some of the best seats in the house. Just grab your flashlights, a few beach chairs and, if you don’t mind staying up late, get ready to watch them run!

So, What Is a Grunion Run?

Each spring, from April to May or June, thousands of these little silvery fish wash ashore to partake in a strange mating ritual under the moonlight. While on the beach, female grunion bury themselves half-way in the sand to lay eggs, while males wrap themselves around the females to fertilize their eggs. The females will lay anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 eggs. Then, as the next round of waves wash in, the fish simply float back to sea. Some may call them the original bodysurfers!

1. Grunions runs are unique to Southern California.

That’s right – because grunions are only found off the coast of Southern California, from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, and in Northern Baja, Mexico (just north of Punta Abreojos), we Californians are the sole witnesses of this incredible event every year.

2. They usually ‘run’ on wide, sandy beaches.

Ergo, La Jolla is the perfect grunion run destination! La Jolla Shores, to be exact. If you’re a newbie and you want the full experience, we recommend going with the expert naturalists at the Birch Aquarium during, or just after, a full moon. They host guided visits of grunion spawning areas at La Jolla Shores throughout April-June, which includes a full rundown on these mysterious creatures as well as a demonstration of hatchlings emerging from their eggs in a vial of seawater.

Birch Aquarium Grunion Run 2018 schedule:

Wednesday, May 2: 11:00pm – 1:00 am
Thursday, May 31: 10:30pm – 12:30am
Friday, June 1: 11:00pm – 1:00am

3. You can even catch the grunions – but only during specific periods.

If you’re in the market for some fresh seafood, you may want to check out a grunion run this year! While April and May are off-limits to fishing or catching the fish while they’re onshore (this is their prime mating period and are therefore protected), you are allowed to do so in March and June – and only with your hands. No nets, buckets or other gear is allowed, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Additionally, people over 16 need a fishing license to participate, and while there is no official bag limit, it is illegal to waste them. Digging holes in the sand as traps is also forbidden.

4. For the best runs, look for the fish after new or full moons.

These silvery little fish are most likely to surface after the highest tides during a full moon, and the largest numbers of grunions usually wash up about an hour after the ‘run’ begins. Try to avoid using flashlights, as the illumination can scare away the fish, and if you do, limit their use to times after the waves have receded. Do remember to tread carefully; you never know what you may be stepping on, and the vibrations of your feet will often scare the little guys away.

5. Though unlikely, be prepared for a no-show.

As with any creatures, there is an element of luck to our ability to witness them; and while grunion can hit the beach by the thousands, they can also decide not to show up at all. It’s disappointing, but not altogether unusual. And, at the very least, you’ll be enjoying a peaceful moonlit walk along the beach – what could possibly be more Southern Californian than that?

A few grunion run tips and things to remember:

  • Do not touch or or interfere with spawning during closed fishing season (April and May).
  • Walk quietly and don’t shine a flashlight directly on the water
  • Leave your furry friends at home
  • Wear waterproof shoes, or at least shoes you don’t mind getting wet. Same goes for clothing, as well.
  • What to bring: a flashlight, a beach chair, a bucket to put your grunion in, and a fishing license if you are planning to take them.

Above all, have fun – and happy grunion running!

Basic Tips for First-Time Beachgoers

First-time beachgoers are unsure what to expect when they visit the coast. The best way to ensure that you and your family can stay safe in the surf and sun is by following a few safety guidelines. That way, no matter which of the many beautiful beaches in La Jolla or the surrounding area you choose to visit, you’re sure to have a great time.

Learn How to Swim

If you plan on visiting a beach or someplace else close to a large body of water, the most important thing you can do is teach your children how to swim. Even children as young as six months old can learn how to swim. You can use your backyard swimming pool or join swimming classes. No matter what age your children are, make sure you to teach them the basics before you visit the beach.

Protect Your Tech on the Beach

If you intend on spending a day at the beach with your brand new iPhone Xs Max, then make sure to shop for iPhone Xs Max cases and screen protection prior to your arrival. The goal is to protect your tech from the sun, saltwater, and sand.

Keep all of your additional electronics like cameras in Ziploc bags when not in use, so they don’t get as soaked. Remember that tech can also overheat in the sun. Store all of your small devices like your smartphone and MP3 at room temperature, if possible. If this isn’t possible, then place your devices in a cooler that’s free from ice or liquids.

Swim Near a Lifeguard

Trust the lifeguards at the beach. They can protect you from potential rip tides or currents. If you’re unfamiliar with the water conditions, ensure the safety of you and your loved ones by swimming near a lifeguard station. Follow their directions and don’t ignore them when they whistle in your direction.

Never swim alone, for safety reasons. If you get in trouble in the water, call out and wave for help. Learn about the potential dangers of rip currents and riptides. Educate yourself on what you and your family can do when in trouble. And, never turn your back on the water. You’ll never know when a large wave is coming your way.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun as well. Use SPF 15 (or higher) before you head out to the beach. Reapply every hour or so, especially if you spend most of the day in the water. Speaking of water, use waterproof sunscreen so you don’t have to reapply as often.

Don’t Trash the Beach

Don’t bring glass bottles to the beach, since glass and bare feet make a bloody combination. Instead, bring plastic bottles and dispose of them properly. Watch out for trash and other signs of pollution. You can also help out by clearing any trash you see in your area.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and to wear sunscreen before your beach trip. You should also protect your tech if you plan to bring it with you. Keep you and your family safe at all times. With these simple tips in mind, you’ll have a successful beach day.

Complete Guide to Beaches in Del Mar

With stunning ocean views from historic coast Highway 101, wildlife reserves, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, oceanfront parks, and plenty of shopping and dining, the cozy community of Del Mar is among the most picturesque in all of San Diego County. The quaint yet upscale charm of this seaside village in San Diego’s North County is a perfect complement to Del Mar’s two miles of beautiful, sandy coastline. The area offers both family- and dog-friendly beaches where you can relax, have a picnic, and kick off your shoes. Here is your complete guide to the best beaches in Del Mar!

Del Mar City Beach

Del Mar City Beach North starts at 15th Street/Powerhouse Park and runs all the way to Dog Beach. This is definitely our pick for the best and most family-friendly beach in Del Mar. It is known for its good swimming, intermediate surf, and easy access at every block. Parking can be difficult on weekends, but you will usually have some luck if you go a block or two south to the residential areas.

Get an early start to enjoy this beautiful beach for the entire day; bring a picnic and then watch the sunset. Note that at high tide the beach can be narrow – if you walk south from Powerhouse Park you will be on South Beach tucked below steep colorful eroding bluffs.

Parking can be a challenge, especially during the busy spring and summer months. Street parking in commercial (usually metered) and residential neighborhoods are your best bet. There are a few parking lots available in downtown Del Mar’s shopping district, but be watchful of signs for spots reserved for patrons of restaurants and shops. Metered parking is also available, so be sure to bring plenty of quarters!



Popular activities at this Southern California beach include swimming, sunbathing, beach walking, picnicking, and surfing. The water is usually calm enough to swim here, and there is always a lifeguard on duty. Jogging and bicycling along the coast, south of 15th Street, are also quite common, as is volleyball. Sunbathing is best at the Del Mar City Beach around 17th Street.

Amenities here include a large grassy park, picnic tables, a kids’ playground and play area, a lifeguard tower, restrooms, and several benches.

Directions to Del Mar City Beach: From freeway I-5 exit Del Mar Heights Road or Via De La Valle and head west. Del Mar Heights leads to the south end of Del Mar at Pacific Coast Hwy and 4th Street; Via De La Valle meets Pacific Coast Hwy on the extreme north end of Del Mar at the Rivermouth. To find the main Del Mar City Beach area, follow the Coast Highway to the intersection of 15th Street and Coast Boulevard, midway between these two points. All of Del Mar’s beaches are named after its numbered streets, so finding any specific spot referred to here is as simple as locating the same street.

The dog policy here is somewhat strict compared to North Beach (Dog Beach). Dogs are not allowed at all from June 16th through Labor Day, but they are allowed leashed from the day after Labor Day through June 15th.

Powerhouse Park: Right above this sandy beach, you’ll find Powerhouse Park. This is a great place to start your day in Del Mar: you’ll find public restrooms, picnic areas with tables and benches overlooking the ocean, and a large children’s playground. You’ll also find a snack shop and several restaurants walking distance.

Del Mar North Beach (Dog Beach)

Del Mar North Beach, affectionately known to locals as Dog Beach because of its lax dog policies, runs from 29th Street north all the way to Solana Beach. Dogs can run freely all along this beach, except during the summer months (between June 16 through Labor Day), when they must be on-leash. Dog beach extends north for nearly ½ mile, and includes the area around the mouth of San Dieguito River.

The main part of this beach is on the north side of the San Dieguito River Lagoon entrance next to Camino del Mar. There is a short hiking trail that leads up to an overlook at James Scripps’ North Bluff Preserve, above North Beach, and is definitely worth exploring.

Parking is all free street parking along Camino Del Mar, behind the beach, as well as at 29th Street.

Popular activities at this beach include volleyball (there are usually several volleyball courts set up in the wide flat part of the beach), surfing (surfers can find breaks on sand bars near the river mouth and reefs north of it), dog walking, and fishing.

Amenities at this beach include volleyball courts, hiking trails, a beach overlook, lifeguard tower, and restrooms.

Directions to North Beach: Del Mar North Beach is located at 3200 Camino Del Mar. From freeway I-5, exit Via de la Valle and head west. Turn left onto Camino Del Mar, and the beach will be a little ways up on the right side. Look for parking anywhere on the street or a block north.

Del Mar South Beach

South Beach in Del Mar runs from the south of Powerhouse Park all the way to 6th Street at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach. This beach is less popular than Del Mar City Beach, but is a common area for locals to walk along the beach at low tide. South Del Mar Beach can be narrow at high tide which can put a damper on sunbathing and other beach activities here.

Parking can be found near Powerhouse Park or Seagrove Park. There is also free parking on the street near the west end of 13th through 6th Streets, but you’ll have to cross the railroad tracks and then find a route down the steep cliffs to the beach. The safest route down the bluff to the beach is at 11th Street, but it’s easy to park at any of the numbered streets and walk along a dirt path next to the railroad tracks to get there.

Popular activities at this beach include sunbathing, beach walking, beachcombing, and surfing.

There are few amenities at this beach, but there is a trail and a small grassy park above the beach at Seagrove Park.

Seagrove Park is a beautifully landscaped park with benches and unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean, which is perfect for whale watching season from December through April. There are public restrooms here, and do note that they close just before dark.

Directions to Del Mar South Beach: South Beach is located at Stratford Ct & 11th Street in Del Mar. From Freeway I-5, exit Del Mar Heights and head west. Turn right onto Camino Del Mar. Look for residential street parking near 11th Street or 13th Street, and find access down to the beach via the trail at 11th Street.

Torrey Pines State Beach North

North Beach at Torrey Pines State Beach is on the north side of the lagoon entrance at Los Peñasquitos Marsh Natural Preserve. Like Torrey Pines South Beach across the marsh entrance channel, the North Beach has a large parking lot with easy access and nice facilities.

When the water is deep enough you can swim in the saltwater at the channel, but it’s often hardly a trickle; just deep enough for children to splash around in. When conditions are safe, you can play in the surf here too, but the waves can be high and are often better suited for surfing. There are lifeguards on staff in the summer months. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is on the hill above the beach and has hiking trails to many great vista points. The downtown area of Del Mar is just a few minutes’ drive north.

Parking can be found in a large parking lot to the east of the freeway, or along Torrey Pines Rd. next to the beach (there are several designated parking spaces, but they fill up quickly).

Popular activities here include bird watching, hiking, fishing, swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and beach walking.

Amenities at this beach include a lifeguard tower, public restrooms, and public showers near the parking lot.

Directions to Torrey Pines State Beach North: From the I-5 freeway exit Carmel Valley Road and head west to Torrey Pines Road south (aka Pacific Coast Highway). Look for roadside parking along the southbound shoulder of PCH, or find the North Beach Parking Lot and pay a small fee. You can then walk across over to the beach.

Tip: While there is a lifeguard tower here, there is no permanent lifeguard supervision anywhere below the bluffs at Torrey Pines. Lifeguards will sometimes be present, but it is often a swim- at-your-own-risk zone and the area can be known for powerful surf and strong currents. Exercise caution when you are swimming here, especially with small children.

Looking for more beach options in San Diego? Visit our complete guide to the beaches at Encinitas, or browse our picks for the top La Jolla beaches!

The Best Beaches in Encinitas

Running parallel to historic Highway 101, the beaches in Encinitas are some of the best hidden gems in San Diego’s North County Coastal region. From soft white sand to picturesque rocky bluffs and legendary surf spots along the coast, the beaches in this quaint surf town in Southern California offer a little something for everyone. An eclectic mix of ‘60s-inspired beach culture combined with boutique shops, contemporary restaurants, and yoga studios, Encinitas is a vibrant beach town where the traditional SoCal surf scene still flourishes. Here is your guide to the best beaches in the city of Encinitas! Then when you’re hungry or ready for happy hour, check out our list of Encinitas bars that are worth checking out. 

Popular Activities at Encinitas Beaches

  • Surfing
  • Paddle boarding
  • Boogie boarding
  • Sunbathing
  • Beach volleyball
  • Body surfing
  • Swimming (in designated areas)

The Best Beaches in Encinitas

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach is the gem of Encinitas’ beaches, and is one of the most popular among local families. With easy access, free parking, great facilities, lifeguards, volleyball courts and a sandy beach, Moonlight is almost always packed with people. Recent upgrades and the addition of a snack shop have definitely helped the beautiful beach stand out as the best family destination along this section of the coast, so feel free to bring the dog and kids.

Amenities include restrooms with showers, picnic areas, a playground, bonfire rings, and a lifeguard tower. During the summers, this particular beach gets packed; while parking is plentiful, you’ll have the best luck looking along Highway 101 rather than at the beach itself.

How to get there: Moonlight State Beach is at the west end of Encinitas Boulevard from I-5. After crossing Highway 101 Encinitas Blvd becomes B Street. There is a paid parking lot with an entrance on C Street, but first look for free street parking in the area. You might have to walk a ways to the beach on sunny days, but there is a drop-off area next to the sand on B Street.

D Street Beach

D Street ends at a nice viewpoint looking out over the ocean where surfers ride in on long rolling waves. A large wooden staircase leads down the bluff to the beach, which is wide and sandy. Parking is usually plentiful and relatively easy to find along neighboring surface streets and residential areas.

While there are no facilities or amenities at this beach, it’s close enough to Moonlight Beach to head up there for restrooms and food. Lifeguards are on duty here every day during the summer months.

How to get there: head one block south of Moonlight State Beach and find parking along Highway 101.

Swami’s Beach

Swami’s Surf Beach is a famous surfing mecca at the southern end of Encinitas and is considered by many to still be a premier surfing destination. The park at Swami’s Beach is a great vantage point for watching surfers, and has shaded areas to enjoy a picnic on the grass as well. When the tide isn’t too high, you can walk south for quite a distance down into San Elijo State Beach. A parking lot (with spaces for about 30 cars), picnic area, and restrooms are located there. More parking can be found along the highway shoulder. A ramp and stairs lead down to the beach.

Several cafes, including the famous Swami’s Cafe, and other restaurants are just a short walk north on Highway 101. There is a long stairway that descends the steep bluff from the parking lot to the beach. If the parking lot is full you will have to park along the highway outside of the park entrance. During low tides some tide pools can be found at the point north from the bottom of the stairs.

How to get there: Access the beach off South Coast Highway 101 at Swami’s Seaside Park (1298 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA).

Stone Steps Beach

Stone Steps Beach is a locals’ beach in Encinitas that is a little off-the-beaten-path. The city has signed it as “Stonesteps Beach Access,” but most people refer to it as Stone Steps. True to its name, you’ll find a large concrete and stone stairway with nearly 100 steps that descends the steep bluff to the narrow beach below.

This is a great beach for surfing or for walking along, but be aware that high tides will cover the entire beach in certain areas. Walk north and you’ll get to Beacon’s Beach and walk south and you’ll reach Moonlight Beach.

How to get there: head west on El Portal Street from Highway 101 then veer left onto S El Portal St to the end. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer.

Encinitas Beach

Encinitas Beach doesn’t have its own access, so it’s a great spot if you’re looking for a more secluded section of the coast. The tall walls that prevent erosion for the expensive homes up on the bluff also provide a space to sunbathe that is not visible from above. Encinitas Beach consists of a narrow strip of sand, and makes for a great beach walk when the tide allows.

At high tide Encinitas Beach can be impossible to access, so be sure to check the tides before heading here. Surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers like the area, away from the busier stretches of beach in Encinitas. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, but there are no other facilities.

How to get there: you can reach Encinitas Beach by walking north from Stone Steps Beach. Park along surface streets.

Beacon’s Beach

Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas is technically “South Leucadia State Beach” because it’s the southern beach access of this state park, but the city-run beach has been called Beacon’s by the locals for decades. The beach here, just like Grandview Beach and nearby Stone Steps Beach to the south, is tucked below the bluff where homes and condos are densely packed.

A narrow trail with three switchbacks descends the bluff face. Beacon’s Beach has a small parking lot on Neptune Avenue between Jasper Street and West Leucadia Boulevard a couple blocks west of Highway 101 in the Encinitas neighborhood of Leucadia. However, the lot is often full and getting a parking spot near the beach access is usually a problem; you may have to park along a surface street and walk a ways.

Surfers and sunbathers are the main users, but if you just need to take off your shoes and walk on a beach this one is great! Just be aware that during high tides the beaches in this area are very narrow or all wet. Once again, lifeguards are on duty during the summer, but there are no other facilities here. It is a favorite destination for surfers and can often be crowded out on the water.

How to get there: the beach is located at 948 Neptune Avenue, where you’ll find the parking lot. Park here or on a nearby street and take the stairway down to the sandy beach.

Boneyard Beach

Boneyard Beach is located below a very steep cliff between Swami’s Beach and D Street Beach in Encinitas, CA. Boneyards is a dry sandy beach at medium and low tides, and is only accessible by walking from the neighboring beaches (easier and safer from the D Street stairway access). There are no facilities or amenities here.

At low tide the beach is wide so you can walk out a long ways to look back at the homes high on the bluff. Because of its seclusion below the bluff, Boneyard Beach is popular with surfers when the conditions are right.

How to get there: head to Swami’s or D Street Beach, and when you get to the bottom of the stairs head north or south respectively.

Cardiff State Beach (North)

North Beach at Cardiff State Beach is located at the entrance to San Elijo Lagoon in the Encinitas community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea. This is a day-use facility, but you’ll find San Elijo State Beach Campground across the lagoon if you want to camp overnight. The north end of Cardiff State Beach is also called “Restaurant Row” by locals because of the series of restaurants next to the beach on Highway 101. The North Beach parking lot is much smaller than the one at the south end of Cardiff SB, so plan to get here early. Amenities include lifeguards on duty, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbecues. Swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and beach walking are popular activities here.

There are some parking spots along Highway 101 just south of the restaurants. Surfers congregate just offshore near the channel entrance in an area called Cardiff Reef. There are strong rip currents in some areas, especially at the lagoon channel, so be careful swimming here or check in with a lifeguard before you swim.

How to get there: the beach is located at 2500 S. Coast Highway 101; find parking along Hwy 101 and head over to the beach.



Cardiff State Beach (Seaside Beach)

Seaside Beach is a sandy beach in Cardiff State Beach at the border between Solana Beach and the Cardiff-by-the-Sea area of Encinitas, CA. Cardiff State Beach is the long sandy strip along the west side of San Elijo Lagoon a large wetlands and ecological reserve. If you want to see the lagoon, they have a visitor center nearby on Manchester Avenue.

The parking lot at Seaside Beach is on Highway 101 just north of the city of Solana Beach. You’ll see surfers enjoying the waves that break over the reef known as Seaside Reef, Cardiff Reef, or Tabletops. Seaside Beach itself is narrow especially at high tide. When the tide allows you can walk south on the sand to the beach at Tide Beach Park below the high bluffs of Solana Beach. Rip currents exist, so be careful where you swim while at Cardiff State Beach.

There are many restaurant options just up the highway behind the North Beach of Cardiff State Beach. Amenities include restrooms and showers, and there are always lifeguards on duty. Surfing and swimming are popular activities here and it is dog friendly.

How to get there: Head north from Solana Beach and find Seaside Beach at 2504 S. Coast Highway 101. The parking lot is on the highway.

For more information on local and nearby La Jolla beaches, view our other beach guides!

Average Water Temperature in La Jolla

La Jolla, Southern California boasts some of the best year-round weather in the world. In La Jolla, the summers are short, warm, arid, and clear and the winters are cool and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 50 degrees F to 77 degrees, and is rarely below 46 degrees or above 90 degrees.

The key to all of this great weather is La Jolla’s mild Mediterranean climate; it keeps average temperatures even and generally provides warm weather throughout the year, creating the perfect environment for locals to swim and surf. The average high temperature stays between the mid-60s and high 70s, with occasional spikes during some months. August and September are usually the warmest, and December and January the coldest (and also when we see the most rain).

Morning fog and coastal clouds are typical, especially during May and June – the area has a healthy dose of “May Gray” and “June Gloom” nearly every year, although full-on storms are rare. Clouds almost always burn off by mid-afternoon, allowing plenty of time for outdoor outdoor activities and enjoying the sunshine!

The summer months are usually very dry and arid, with little to no rainfall.

water temperature in la jolla, ca

Water Temperature in La Jolla

The water temperature in La Jolla isn’t known for being mild – even during the summer! While the cool water temps help to provide some of the mildest air temperatures along the coast throughout the seasons, the water is, indeed, quite chilly most of the year. That’s why (out of necessity), water sport companies began the modern day wet suit designs that allow visitors, locals, and surfers to enjoy the waves anytime.

La Jolla Cove water temperatures peak in the range 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit in September, and are at their lowest in February – in the range of 55 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit.

Actual ocean temperatures close to shore at La Jolla Cove can vary by several degrees compared with these open water averages. This is especially true after heavy rain, close to river mouths, or after long periods of strong offshore winds. Offshore winds cause colder deep water to replace surface water that has been warmed by the sun. Air temperature, wind-chill and sunshine should also be considered before deciding on the kind of wetsuit needed to stay warm when surfing at La Jolla Cove.

water temperature in la jolla

Best Time To Visit La Jolla

Average temperatures of around 57 Fahrenheit in January rise to 77 degrees in August. The best time of year to visit La Jolla for general outdoor tourist activities is from early June to mid October, with a peak score in the third week of August. The semi-arid climate during these months is pleasant and warm, though the beach can be covered by a marine layer in the morning (particularly in early summer).  Surfing and swimming are popular, as well as other outdoor activities such as paddle boarding, windsurfing, snorkeling, and kayaking.

During this month, the water temperature reaches its warmest point of the year; it averages around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually during these warmer summer months, swimmers and surfers can comfortably be in the water without a wetsuit.

See Also: 8 Photos That Prove La Jolla Has Great Weather Year-Round

La Jolla Shores Water Temperature

La Jolla Shores is a stunning crescent shaped, sandy beach that is backed by dramatic, picturesque cliffs. The beach is a popular spot for swimmers, families, scuba divers, and kayakers; and even at night, when the glow of bonfire pits can be seen for miles. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography Pier is a terrific photo op, and children can play in the sand or enjoy a wide variety of marine life on show at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Interestingly, on August 2nd, 2018, researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego logged the warmest sea surface temperatures at Scripps Pier since records began in August 1916. The record high of 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit followed a string of days during which individual daily records of sea surface and seafloor temperatures had been set at the pier. It surpassed the previous record of 78.4 degrees set on July 30, 1931 during an unusually warm period that year. The warm water experienced during these summer months attracts marine life such as sea lions and leopard sharks who gather in breeding grounds off of the coast of the La Jolla shores.

Scripps researchers have taken ocean temperature and salinity readings at the pier since 1916. In 1925, they began taking seafloor water temperature measurements as well; one of the first research institutes to do so in the United States.

Fun Facts About La Jolla Water Temperature & Weather

  • The highest recorded temperature in La Jolla was a whopping 107 degrees in October of 1961.
  • It has actually snowed in La Jolla! The date was December 13, 1967, and it was the last time that snow stuck to the ground.
  • The coldest day in La Jolla (and in all of San Diego, in fact) has been recorded at just 25 degrees in January of 1913.

Though temperatures and water temperatures do vary, there is really never a bad time to visit La Jolla!

Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in La Jolla

The La Jolla coastline is nothing short of wondrous. Its miles of sandy shores along the Pacific Ocean are divided up into several of the best beaches in San Diego, each with its own personality and benefits.

After countless hours of beach exploration and research, we’ve put together the ultimate list of “The Best of La Jolla Beaches.” No matter what activity you want to conduct on the San Diego shoreline, we want to make sure you get to the right spot.

Best for Surfing:

Windansea Beach & Black’s Beach

Celebrate the Southern Californian passion of surfing at this La Jolla beach!

Windansea Beach is local favorite and isn’t recommended for beginners, but it’s known as one of the best surf spots in San Diego. The secret is not just knowing where to go, but when! The variety of reef formations around the Windansea and Bird Rock areas, just south of downtown La Jolla, create conditions that are difficult to predict. The waves vary with the tides and best left to be surfed by advanced surfers who know them well. Look for the famed Windansea Surf Shack here; it’s a local staple and gets rebuilt every summer with palm fronds from nearby trees.

Black’s Beach has been a prime surf spot since the ’60s, when it was discovered by four famous pro-surfers. The submarine canyon directly offshore funnels extra-powerful waves onto the beach, making this another spot for more experienced surfers.

beaches in la jolla

Best for Hiking:

Torrey Pines State Beach

In the northernmost part of La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Reserve sits tucked away behind Torrey Pines beach. It is a large reserve, filled with trails, beautiful Torrey Pine trees, plenty of wildlife, and an unparalleled ocean view. The staggering cliffs are home to six trails that vary in difficulty; do just one, or complete them all for a serious workout!

For those who want to truly feel the burn, hit the Guy Fleming Trail for its intense hill climb. If you’re looking for something a little less strenuous, try out the easier Razor Point Trail for a 1.3-mile adventure and the Beach Trail for a path that lands you directly on the sand (one of our favorites and definitely the most popular trail at Torrey Pines). Make a day of it and grab a picnic – check out our complete one-day itinerary for Torrey Pines here.

Directions to Torrey Pines Beach: Located just north of La Jolla along historic Highway 101. Since it’s owned by the state park system, there is a day use fee for using the parking lot. Fees are paid at the South Beach kiosk where there is a small parking lot as well as the parking lots at the top of the mesa in the park. You may also find free parking along Highway 101.

Black’s Beach

If you’re looking for a more difficult, strenuous hike, try Ho Chi Minh Trail down to Black’s Beach. It’s a well known “surfer’s trail,” and has guided San Diego swimmers and surfers alike down to its sandy beach for decades. This is a lovely trail that makes for some epic views of the shoreline on the way down – but it will definitely test your endurance! Always exercise caution here, especially after it rains; the mud and rocks can get quite slippery. This La Jolla Beach trail is recommended for more experienced hikers and isn’t ideal for younger children or those with disabilities.

Best for Families:

Children’s Pool

True to its name, Children’s Pool is a great place for children who are new to swimming. The seawall creates a calm grotto without waves or a big tide. You can even try scuba diving with older kids and teens. Those who prefer to stay dry can explore the ever-popular Sunny Jim Sea Cave. An added bonus is always the adorable seals and sea lions, but please respect their habitat and stay a safe distance away from the sea life. Here are some helpful tips when visiting the La Jolla Cove seals.

Directions to Children’s Pool: 850 Coast Blvd, at the end of Jenner Street. You’ll see a long seawall and steps down to the beach.

Parking at Children’s Pool: Street parking is your best bet; most are timed for two hours, but you might get lucky with an untimed spot in one of the adjacent neighborhoods.

La Jolla Shores

Families with young children want to make sure they’re going to one of the beaches in San Diego with calm surf, lifeguards, room to picnic and, of course, bathroom and shower amenities. These can all be found at La Jolla Shores! As an added bonus, there’s a big playground at the adjacent Kellogg Park, complete with a big grassy area and plenty of activities for the younger ones. Because this is such a wide, open beach, the waves never get very big which makes it an excellent choice for families.

It also makes it a fun spot to try surfing or stand-up paddle boarding–unlike more advanced areas like Windansea Beach, the surf is pretty predictable here. There is always a lifeguard on duty (from morning until sundown). If you’re in the mood for roasting some marshmallows, there are several fire pits here; plan a great day out with the family at a beach bonfire with our helpful guide. You can even stay on the shores–the La Jolla Shores Hotel and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club offer luxurious accommodations and dining with an incredible ocean view. Staying at the Beach and Tennis Club even guarantees access to a private stretch of beach.

Directions to La Jolla Shores: 8200 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla. The easiest way is from Torrey Pines Road and a right onto La Jolla Shores Drive. There is a small parking lot at La Jolla Shores park, but there is also some street parking in nearby neighborhoods.

Best for Tide Pools:

Shell Beach

Exploring the coastal tide pools is one of the most popular activities in La Jolla, for people of all ages. Although there are several spots in San Diego to go tide pooling, Shell Beach boasts a colorful array of sea anemones and sea stars all within an easy-to-access area. It provides the opportunity to experience the beauty of aquatic life, without having to dive underwater or pay an aquarium fee!

How to get to Shell Beach: This beach is located at the intersection of Coast Blvd. and Ocean Lane; at the south end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove. You’ll see a long set of stairs that takes you from the grass park down to the sand at Shell Beach.

Wipeout Beach

From here down to Hospital Point lie some of La Jolla’s best and most active tide pools. They are a bit more off the beaten path and tucked away, which means there are almost always fewer crowds – a bonus if you really want to experience some wildlife. Here, you’ll also spot those round, curved little pools that are so popular to photograph and put on Instagram! Go here for some tips on tide pooling and info about what you might see at this beautiful beach.

Always wear close-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting wet when adventuring to the tide pools. The surf is unpredictable, even at low tides.

How to get to Wipeout Beach: 745 Coast Blvd. It’s a sandy beach south of Children’s Pool, along Coast Boulevard.

Best When in the Mood for Something to Write Home About:

Black’s Beach

Feel like you’re in Europe without leaving the country by coming to Black’s, America’s first legal nude beach. Whether you bare it all or not, it’s a great place to watch some great surfing or just relax. It also has a super interesting history – impress your friends with your San Diego beach knowledge!

There are a few different ways to get to Black’s Beach. While some routes are easier than others, each does involve a steep climb and/or stairs. You can walk along the beach from La Jolla Shores, which is only an option during very low tide; you can hike down from the Torrey Pines Glider Port parking area; or you can walk down Salk Canyon Road, from La Jolla Farms (right across the street from University of California-San Diego). Decide which route is best for you before you go, and make sure you know how to get there.

Once you do make it down to the beach, you won’t be disappointed! A long stretch of sand plus gentle waves that are easy to swim in makes this a truly lovely area to spend the day.

Directions to Black’s Beach: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr. There are four different hikes down to the beach; for details go here.


How to Enjoy a Beach Bonfire in La Jolla

There’s nothing quite like a bonfire on the beach; especially a La Jolla bonfire! They are a great way to enjoy the beach any time of year. Unfortunately, they are not legal on all beaches in La Jolla, and the ones that do allow them still have some strict regulations. We’ve picked out which beaches in San Diego allow bonfires and broken down everything you need to know about enjoying a La Jolla bonfire!

Before You Go

Before you head to the beach, it’s a good idea to prepare!

  • Pick up some wood or charcoal to burn in the fire pit (burning anything else is prohibited)
  • Pre-bonfire picnics are popular, as well as (of course) s’mores!
  • Don’t forget gloves – they’ll come in handy when you’re handling wood or hot coals
  • Prepare to arrive very early to secure your fire pit
  • Read up on other safety guidelines outlined by the City of San Diego

Also, plan on how you’re going to dispose of the coals or burned material once you’re done. The remains of clean, untreated wood do not have to be removed from your fire pit, but coals in other containers should be deposited in receptacles specifically marked for hot coal disposal. Dumping coals in a regular trash can could result in a fire.

La Jolla Shores

There are 6 fire pits available at La Jolla Shores, and they are available on a first come, first served basis. They do fill up quickly, especially on holidays like the 4th of July and Memorial Day – some arrive as early as 6am to secure their spot! Weekdays are less crowded, but if you’re planning on a weekend bonfire, we do recommend getting there quite early to secure the pit. The ordinance for officially reserving a fire pit in San Diego requires that at least two adults are in the vicinity at all times, so keep this in mind as well.

Here are a few general guidelines courtesy of (these apply to all fire pits in San Diego):

  • Fires are not allowed between midnight and 5am
  • The burning of rubbish is prohibited.
  • Only wood, charcoal or paper products may be used as fuel
  • Fuel for the fire may not exceed a height of more than twelve inches above the upper edge of the fire pit
  • Open beach fires outside of the provided pits are prohibited at all times
  • All fires must be extinguished before leaving the beach. Coals must be removed or deposited in hot coal containers
  • Overnight camping is prohibited here

Once you’ve secured a pit, a great way to kill some time is to go swimming! La Jolla Shores is the perfect beach for swimming and surfing, and there are designated areas for both. The Shores is also a popular place for scuba diving and kayaking. There are always lifeguards present at the Shores between 9am and dusk. Don’t forget to call ahead to check surf conditions!

Tourmaline Beach

Officially known as Tourmaline Surfing Park, this spot is a longtime favorite of local surfers. Swimming is largely prohibited here, as it’s primarily for surfing; but it makes for some great sightseeing! Take a look at the park’s monument up close and you’ll see surfing legends called out by name, a testament to some of the greatest innovators in the sport of surfing.

A few things to know about this location:

  • Parking is free (there’s a big lot available)
  • During April through October, dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach before 9:00am and after 6:00pm.
  • Other amenities include: restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbecues, and lifeguards for your safety and convenience needs.

As always, the fire pits are first-come, first-served, so arriving early is also advised.

Ocean Beach

This beach is perpetually crowded because of the popular Pier, but fortunately there are numerous fire pits here – your odds of getting one are pretty good provided you arrive early in the day.

  • Other amenities include volleyball courts, picnic tables, a lifeguard, showers and a fishing pier
  • Lifeguards are staffed year-round from 9am til dusk
  • Dogs are not allowed here, but they are allowed at the 24-hour Dog Beach just adjacent to this beach
  • Overnight camping is prohibited

Coronado Beach

If you’re looking for a more luxurious bonfire experience, this beach is for you! The fire pits at Coronado are spread out across the sand and easy to spot, which makes this an extremely popular location for families.

Coronado Beach starts at the Hotel Del Coronado and continues north. Access to the main Coronado Beach is from the area near the “Hotel Del” where there are free parking spaces all along Ocean Blvd. This wide family-friendly beach gets crowded, but it is wide enough that you can find a place to spread out comfortably. Keep an eye out for the elaborate sand castles for which this beach is known!

  • Get here early to park nearby and secure a good spot on the sand
  • Other amenities include picnic tables, BBQs, restrooms and the gorgeous Hotel del Coronado nearby
  • If you head south from the Del, you’ll find a beach below tall condo buildings called Coronado Shores Beach which has a free public parking lot.
  • Fun fact: The Hotel Del can one-up your bonfire experience! Make it gourmet by renting one of their fire pits and roasting s’mores on the beach or other yummy treats (hot dogs and a charcuterie board are on the menu).

Before You Leave

Fire hazards are a big risk in Southern California, especially during the summer months. The best way to reduce hazards from beach fires is proper disposal of the coals, and that begins with putting out the fire.

Begin the process 45 minutes to an hour before leaving to make sure you have plenty of time to put the fire out. Cover the fire with sand to douse the fire, then pour water over it to cool the coals. You can leave anything that isn’t burned inside the pit.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the La Jolla Children’s Pool

Children’s Pool Beach is one of the most well known (and loved!) beaches in La Jolla, California. Built in 1930, it was one of the many gifts that philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps gave to the community of La Jolla. Originally heralded as a “wonderful improvement” by the press and local residents alike, the concrete seawall and the beach it protects became the setting for controversy and debate just sixty years after it was finished. Here are a few things you may not know about this La Jolla beach!


1. It was briefly transformed into a movie set in 1977.

A World War I battlefield set, to be exact! Not many people know that the Children’s Pool Beach was the location for a 15-minute beach battle scene in the movie The Stunt Man, starring Peter O’Toole, in November of 1977. The movie also filmed scenes in Coronado (at the Hotel del Coronado) and in East County near Flinn Springs. A large crane was brought in for the scene, as well as several other wartime props and even airplanes. Fun fact: In that scene, O’Toole is transported by a crane from the Children’s Pool to the veranda of the Del; only locals know how geographically impossible that scenario is!

2. The entire project took a total of ten years.

From the initial survey and design to the final changes completed by the contractor, the breakwater was truly no small feat. Years of extensive planning, a tedious permit and approval process, and construction filled with numerous delays and obstacles were the project’s biggest enemies. On May 31, 1931 a dedication ceremony occurred at the breakwater to celebrate what was then (and still is, by most standards) a massive accomplishment.

3. At its highest point, the seawall stands at a whopping sixteen feet.

As it extends towards the open ocean, the wall gets gradually higher; going from ten feet to sixteen. This gradual incline was very much intentional, and was constructed in order to preserve its aesthetic look and not detract from the natural scenery surrounding the pool.

4. The breakwater required a total of almost 3,200 barrels of concrete.

The 3,125.5 barrels of Riverside Concrete arrived by railroad cars, along with 31 tons of rail from Los Angeles by the Shannahan Brothers Company.

5. Efforts have begun to get the Children’s Pool placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The a potentially historic place’s connection to important persons; in this case, Ellen Browning Scripps, who was the benefactress for the project, and Engineer Hiram Newton Savage, because he really was never fully recognized for accomplishing one of La Jolla’s biggest architectural marvels. Savage, who died three years after the Pool was opened, is credited with planning what would be San Diego’s water development and supervised the construction or expansion of some of San Diego’s dams.

Interestingly, the seawall’s architect, William Templeton Johnson’s contribution and involvement will also be highlighted. Johnson designed the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, La Valencia Hotel, San Diego National History Museum, and several other buildings throughout the area. He had a fascination with Mission Revival and Spanish Eclectic architecture; not surprising, given that his proposed design for the Children’s Pool was utilitarian, unobtrusive, and consistent with the organic principals found in the breakwater’s design.

The Children’s Pool is still very much loved by locals and tourists alike today; in fact, it’s probably one of the busiest beaches in all of San Diego! Though the local seals and sea lions have taken over in recent years, it’s still a beautiful place to watch the wildlife or go scuba diving. How many of these fun facts did you know about the Children’s Pool?

Kayaking in La Jolla: Everything You Need to Know

La Jolla Kayaking

If you love the ocean and revel in exploring it, kayaking in La Jolla will be a magical experience for you. This activity is incredibly popular and is definitely one of the top things to do in La Jolla when you’re visiting. The local tour companies are experts, and know exactly where to take you and how to get you there so you get the most out of your experience. There are all kinds of things to explore; from venturing inside Clam Cave to the chance to see some wildlife, there is nothing quite like kayaking in La Jolla!

Whether it’s your first time out on the water or your fiftieth, here are some ways to get the most out of your kayaking adventure.

The La Jolla Underwater Park

This vast area of sea goes all along the La Jolla Coast and includes the ocean bottom and canyons that extend from it. 90% of this is protected as an Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve, meaning there is no fishing or scavenging of any kind and all wildlife and plant life is being preserved. This is part of their mission to protect the local, aquatic wildlife. In total, the park encompass approximately 6,000 acres. It’s particularly interesting because of its wide variety of landscapes; deep submarine canyons, rocky reef shallows, kelp bed, sand flats are all visible to snorkelers and on clear days, kayakers!

At times, the water will be crystal clear and provide you incredible views below the water’s surface; this is your chance to see all kinds of fish (especially the state fish, Garibaldi), leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish, and more.

Learn more about which areas you want to explore by kayak below:

The Seven La Jolla Caves

The timeworn cliffs of this coast have, over their 75 million years, had caves carved into the sandstone. Weather permitting, coast into these caves for a breathtaking experience. These seven caves are, from east to west:

White Lady
Little Sister
Shopping Cart
Sea Surprize
Arch Cave
Clam’s Cave
Sunny Jim Cave

All of the caves can only be explored by kayak, except for Sunny Jim, which you can hike down into. There is a small tunnel leading down from the Cave Store that you can go through by foot. During the 1920s Prohibition, it is said that illegal smugglings happened through here! Clam Cave is the only cave you can actually kayak into, but you can pass by the other caves quite closely and really see their beauty up close.


The Ecological Reserve

Tours run by companies like La Jolla Kayak often leave from this area, which can be accessed from La Jolla Shores. You can see buoys near the shoreside of Scripps Park, at the northeast point of La Jolla Shores and more again out into the canyons. Try to make out the invisible path between each of the buoys, and you have the perimeter of the reserve.

What plants and creatures can you look forward to seeing? There are often leopard sharks, dolphins, whales and, of course, sea lions hanging out here. Spot them swimming amongst the kelp and the reefs of the ocean arena.

The Marine Life Refuge

Head north of the reserve, and you’ll find yourself in the Marine Life Refuge. This space was set up in 1929 by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for research purposes. Though academic work is conducted here, you are also allowed to fish and play in its perimeters.

As with the Ecological Reserve, get ready to coast on the water and look down to sites of leopard sharks, garibaldi, sea lions and, depending on the day, dolphins!

Kayak Tours & Rentals

To learn the area and valuable kayaking techniques, there are certified guides ready to take you on your La Jolla kayaking adventure. We recommend booking as far in advance as possible, especially during the summer months. There are several companies that provide kayaking tours, and some are even combo tours (bike and kayak, snorkel and kayak, etc.). Some of our favorites are La Jolla Kayak, Everyday California, and Bike & Kayak Tours of La Jolla.

If you’ve already kayaked before, you may only the equipment and not a full tour. These companies, and local shops, also rent out kayaks and other equipment. For more information, check out our complete La Jolla Shores guide!