Beach party in San Diego

How to Throw an Epic Beach Party in San Diego

Who doesn’t love a good beach party? Especially if you’re in La Jolla, how can you not love a good beach party in San Diego? With so many beaches at our fingertips, you can easily throw a party to remember. Of course, there are so many things to think about – the theme, the food, the music, the invitations; heck, you could even throw your party on a nude beach if you wanted. While coming up with beach party ideas is hard sometimes, let’s aim to make that a little easier. 

Are you ready to throw an epic beach party in San Diego?

You may fancy yourself capable of throwing the best beach party in San Diego, but there’s more to consider than just the locale. Just because you’re in one of the most idyllic ocean towns in the world doesn’t mean it’s going to be a breeze. You’ve got to consider the time of year. Is it a New Year’s Eve beach party in San Diego? Consider the age range of the guests; this determines what accommodations you need to buy or rent. Considering who will be in attendance and the time of day will also influence the best beach snacks for the type of event you’re aiming to throw. 

These are just several things to consider – time, place, attendees, and the other factors mentioned above. So, if you think you are, in fact, ready to throw a beach party in San Diego, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

What are the best reasons to throw an epic beach party in San Diego?

First on the list of best reasons is location, location, location! You couldn’t ask to be in a more beautiful place in the country and arguably the world. The climate of scenery makes La Jolla an ideal place to throw birthday parties, weddings, bat mitzvahs, really any celebration – including work events! 

  • Birthday Party Ideas – When throwing a beach birthday party, there are unlimited ideas, because individuals are unique. You want to make sure that you send out birthday greeting cards and invitations that match your theme, so pick one first. Many people opt for a luau-type theme for birthday parties, and you can go in a ton of directions to keep it age-appropriate.
  • Weddings – Tons of couples decide to tie the knot on one of the many beaches in San Diego. Your wedding theme is, of course, up to you two as partners and any planners and designers you’ve hired, but remember, drinking on public beaches is not permitted in San Diego, so you are limited in that capacity.
  • Work Events – Work events are a great way to build team morale and keep the company’s values in line amongst employees. A simple picnic or buffet style will work for this type of event. Depending on your company’s budget, however, you can hire a planner depending on the size and scale of the event.

How to Prepare for Your Beach Party?

Throwing any party, let alone a beach party in San Diego, takes some prep work. You must enlist the help of friends or hire planners, designers, and decorators based on the size of the event you are throwing. The list doesn’t end there, and you’ll need caterers and even possibly permits. If your party is more elevated, an ice sculpture will obviously melt, but you could even hire a professional sandcastle builder if you’re trying to make a statement. Try to remember events you went to in the past that are similar to what you’re trying to achieve and build on that. You don’t want to plagiarize someone’s party (especially if they’re on the invite list) simultaneously; however, imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

Maybe you went to a Pacific Beach San Diego party in the last few years that had everything you were looking for – the right location, it was during the evening, and the caterer was on point. Either source the same caterer or one that serves a similar style of food. Keep in mind that you need to have a way for guests to quickly dispose of utensils, cups, and napkins that could blow away in the wind and become litter (unless you’re going more sustainable or have hired a crew to wait on guests as well). 

Locations

Just like where you decide to buy your home, start your business or throw a party – location is everything. So, picking your location is one of your top priorities. Let’s dive into some of the options our fair city has to offer.

Downtown, Harbor, and Coronado

Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand is great for kids and wheelchair accessible if some of your guests require such amenities. It has ocean and bay shorelines as well. 

Pepper Park 

Pepper Park is a park a little over five acres large. There’s a playground there as well as restrooms, picnic tables, and a boat launch. This is a good option if you need tables but don’t feel like spending your budget on rentals. 

Coronado Beach

Coronado is a more urban beach, which would be great if you’re planning a livelier party. Most people come here for the swimming, sunbathing, or surfing options, so if you don’t want to contend with crowds, this may not be the spot for your party. 

Waterfront Park

Waterfront is an excellent option for a young or middle child’s birthday party. There are tons of areas and equipment for children of all ages to play with and spray fountains. There are also large grassy areas for a picnic-style party. 

Harbor Island Park / Spanish Landing

This park is a beautiful public space overlooking the bay. While it does have a path for walkers and bicyclists that could distract a larger party, the scenery is idyllic and would be an excellent fit for a more intimate gathering. 

Shoreline Park

Shoreline Park is a mile long, and the views are breathtaking. Almost always full of sailboats, the perfect backdrop for any number of parties. Another cool thing about Shoreline is the public art, so there’s always a conversation starter there if many of your guests will be meeting each other for the first time. The park also has a beautiful promenade. This place makes for a great beach party in San Diego.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

The name says it all when it comes to this locale. The cliffs are simply breathtaking, and you could throw an elevated event here. You would want a planner to help you figure out its logistics, but it’s a majestic setting. 

Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, and Mission Bay

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

Throwing a birthday party for your beloved pet? A mixer for singles who “Must Love Dogs”? This is your spot. Ocean Beach Dog Beach allows dogs to be freely off-leash. Obviously, it will be a casual party, but you can have a lot of fun here with your pet and your pet-loving pals.

Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay Park is wildly popular as a place to swim and sunbathe, even surf, so expect a crowd. It is wheelchair accessible and friendly, which is something to consider. Mission is also super kid-friendly, so another place you should put on your list if your party is geared towards children.

Fiesta Island

I mean, come on, it’s in the name – Party! Fiesta is a pretty big island off Mission Bay and boasts 27 miles of beaches. There are fire pits that could make for a wild party or really intimate as well. As we said, it’s in the name, and this should be on the top of your list while planning. 

South Mission Beach

South Mission Beach is adjacent to lots of shops and other things going on. This is a good suggestion for a quick event and probably pretty casual. But, the beach is lovely and wide, so you could easily set something up if you went with it as your locale. 

Mission Beach Boardwalk

What’s in a name? What’s on a boardwalk? Mission Beach Boardwalk has an old-school feel to it and even an amusement park. You could throw a nostalgic themed party here for older adults in your life or go in plenty of other directions. It will be busy, though, so this isn’t the way to go if you want something quieter. 

Ski Beach

Many locals love this beach for a good reason; the beach is flat, and there are many good places to have a fire pit. It’s busy but never overrun. Ski Beach is a perfect spot if you have a medium-sized party where you want to be able to expand on a theme.

Crown Point Park

If you don’t have much budget or throw something together last minute, Crown Point Park is a fantastic option. There are plenty of picnic tables, grills, bonfire rings, and a giant grassy park where kids can play, or you could set up games like badminton or corn hole—a very casual spot, which frequently makes for the most memorable parties.

Fanuel Street Park

Another actual kid-friendly location, but the views are stunning enough for the adults to appreciate amid the mayhem. Fanuel Street Park has a playground, BBQ grills, a huge grassy park, and bath amenities (helpful if your children are young enough to be prone to accidents and messes).

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Though Pacific Beach is definitely busy during the daytime, the spectacular views make it an excellent place for an evening beach party. It has a great, long pier, and the white sandy beaches are perfect for party pictures.

Law Street Beach

The beachline here is backdropped by grassy cliffs, which would make it a picturesque wedding party locale. It’s known for good surfing and jogging so the evening would be a better bet. 

Tourmaline Beach

Tourmaline Beach is a beautiful oceanside like most San Diego beaches, but parking is a bit tough at this beach. So, you would need to plan on traveling as a group, or it could work for people within walking distance or a more intimate gathering.

Calumet Park

Overlooking a bluff, Calumet Park is a grassy and serene location. It’s lined with benches which could be suitable depending on the type of event you’re throwing or a distraction. 

Birdrock & La Jolla

Birdrock Viewpoint

Considered by many as one of the best seaside views in San Diego, Birdrock is beyond beautiful. This is a very relaxing and serene environment that lends itself to all types of parties. 

Windansea Beach

Known mainly for its iconic palm-covered surf shack, this is a popular surfing site. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t host an epic BBQ or luau here, though! It’s worth noting there are no public restrooms available at this beach.

Marine Street Beach

The clear water at Marine Street Beach makes it an easy place to throw a relaxing affair. This location would be great for day or evening events. There are no restrooms or parking; however, street parking is sometimes difficult to obtain. If you’re throwing a significant event here, you’re going to need a shuttle!

La Jolla Cove

This beach, while quaint, is always manned by lifeguards during certain hours. This site offers restrooms as well as showers, so if you’re throwing a proper beach party where you’ll be swimming and building sandcastles, it’s a great pick. Not to mention, there are picnic tables!

La Jolla Shores Park

La Jolla Shores Park isn’t directly on the ocean, but a mere two blocks away, which is beneficial if there are babies at the party. They have a playground which is great for children of all ages, but you’re a short walk to sand and waves if you want them!

Blacks Beach Park

Trying to kick your party up a notch? Well, Blacks Beach gives you the option to go nude if that’s what you’re looking for. You decide what kind of party you want to throw here. Blacks Beach can be difficult to get to since it’s located under the Torrey Bluffs, but it’s worth the visit. Whether you’re going in the buff or not, it’s a beautiful view.

North County Coastal: Del Mar, Encinitas, Cardiff, Carlsbad, and Oceanside

Torrey Pines State Beach

TPSB is an excellent spot for fishing, surfing, and swimming. Additionally, it’s an easy place to throw a beach party! The beach is nice and wide, and there are pre-set-up picnic areas as well. 

Powerhouse Park & Del Mar Beach

Powerhouse Park sets above a beautiful and large sandy beach, making it ideal for a large outdoor party. Guests have the option of relaxing in a gorgeous grassy setting or spending time on the beach. If you’re throwing something black-tie, this is worth checking out. You can go low-key if that’s more your party’s vibe as there is a playground and small picnic area.

Fletcher Cove

The beautiful park at Fletcher Cove even has a viewing deck, which makes it a great spot if lots of photos are taken. It also has picnic tables, playgrounds, and a nice grassy park. Oh, and did we mention basketball? Yeah, for a casual beach party, this place checks a lot of boxes. 

Tide Beach Park

The backdrop of this park is stunning cliffs lined with gorgeous homes, but there’s so much more. The beach is full of perfect white sand and is known for its serene and calming atmosphere. Tide Beach could easily host a beautiful wedding ceremony or just a casual hang-out on the beach.

Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area

If you want your beach party to be in a very natural environment where guests can sneak off and explore to find new favorite places, add this to your list of considerations. The beach is small but clean, and there’s a beautiful little tide pool. 

Cardiff State Beach

This beach is protected as it’s part of a state park system. Cardiff could be a fun location for a wedding where your out-of-town guests want to stay in RVs since there’s a campground nearby. It’s beautiful and definitely worth checking out.

San Elijo State Beach

This beach is big! It’s over two miles, kind of big! It’s best known for its campground and picnic availability, so it’s an option for more relaxed get-togethers. But maybe that’s how beach parties should all be!

Swami’s Beach

Free parking! Dog friendly! Beautiful beach! This place is an easy one to host virtually any event at. The sand is nice and soft at Swami’s, and the sunsets are to die for. 

Encinitas Beach County Park

While not everyone loves a pebbly beach, it could be just what you envisioned for your event. Encinitas Beach County is a beautiful park with lots to offer. 

Grandview Surf Beach

This beach lies at the base of cliffs; it offers parking up above the cliffs, making it easy to access as an event locale. The beaches are beautiful white sand beaches and the view, well, it’s grand!

Ponto State Beach Jetty

The Jetties at Ponto State Beach are nice and tight together, making them easy to walk across if your guests are likely explorers. This beach is spacious, and the jetties give it a natural feel you could be looking for.

South Carlsbad State Beach

Not only do they have a cliffside campground where you could quickly turn your party into an all-nighter, but they’ve also got picnic grounds and a gorgeous scenic beach. This beach is known best for swimming, fishing, and diving. Lots of fun to be had at SCSB.

North Ponto Beach

Backed by some pretty sharp bluffs, this beach is sand and pebble, so that it would be great for a fire pit. Walking along the beachside here is beautiful as well. 

Tamarack Surf Beach

This beach is right on the border with a neighborhood, so getting super rowdy is not an option. It’s also a stunning ocean view with a laid-back vibe—an excellent choice for a day party. 

Oceanside City Beach

Oceanside City Beach is almost always crowded, so keep that in mind in your party planning. But, it’s an absolutely gorgeous beach with a great pier. There are almost always food vendors nearby, so you could even forego catering and buy everyone’s lunch!

Oceanside Harbor Beach

This beach is an excellent spot for all age groups, so you’re not limited by that while planning. The waves are almost always mild, and there’s not a ton of seaweed – which can be a real turn-off for some—super long pier, which is enjoyable. The beach is a favorite with locals, and there’s also a lot to do in the surrounding area if partygoers want to keep hanging out after you’ve shut down the main party. 

Invitations

As mentioned earlier, after picking a theme, invitations are one of the first party planning steps you need to conquer. You can send out invites indicating a theme before getting all your other ducks in a row. Some people work better under pressure, so it’s good to do it this way. Ways to come up with a great invitation are using free services online to send email invites – not only is this a more sustainable way of sending invites, but it’s also easier for people to get their RSVPs to you quickly. 

If you’re working towards a more formal event and want to send a nice thick cardstock version of an invite, you can either work with a planner that has connections to get them done for you, or source someone local to design, print, even address the invites for you. It’s generally agreed that your invitations need to include obvious things like date, time, and location, but take it a step further if you have expectations on things like preferred attire, parking instructions, and whether or not you want children included. 

If it’s a children’s party, this could be a fun project for you and your kid to do with one another. Can you think of anything sweeter than getting a homemade invitation by the child for whom the party is for? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Decorations

When it comes to decorating for a beach party, there’s a little more to keep in mind than you may have to for a party you’re throwing indoors. Firstly, you need to keep in mind the wind, and you’ll want decorations that aren’t going to fly away, not very environmentally conscious. Consider using a pop-up tent or renting a giant tent if you’re hosting a wedding or more significant event.

If you have a tent, you can quickly secure any type of decorations you’re using for it. You can also connect your decorations to picnic tables and chairs. If you’re inclined to go the DIY route, filling mason jars with beach pebbles and tying decor to them could look beautiful. Also, be mindful if you’re utilizing candles as part of decorations. They must be in a glass container that cannot be blown over and are heavy enough to stay in place. 

When it comes to what you’re going to decorate with, think – garlands, pom poms, balloons, oversized faux flowers from a craft shop. If it’s within your budget, fresh local flowers are always a show stopper. Just make sure that you or a designated crew of people are in charge of responsibly cleaning up any decor you’ve chosen for the event. Please utilize these items responsibly and one more emphasis on candles or anything else that could be a fire hazard (like sparklers or fireworks). 

What Should You Serve at Your Beach Party?

What you should serve at any party is always dependent on many variables: location, age of attendees, budget, and others. It would be best to remember that most people have specific dietary restrictions due to lifestyle choices or food sensitivities. So you’re going to want at least one vegan and a gluten-free option of every course. 

For hors d’oeuvres at a beach party, keep things simple with things like cut fruit and vegetables, or you can serve them kebob style. Simple bowls of healthy chips and nuts are excellent options, and no one ever goes wrong with a beautiful charcuterie board, do they? 

Your main course is going to be dependent on the same variables. If you’re using a catering service, let their chef absolutely handle this. It can be overwhelming to come up with mains, especially if the party is large. Since you’re going to be oceanside, go with easy eats like bbq (with all the fixings set out for guests to build their sandwiches how they like them), pizza is always a crowd-pleaser. Many of the locations mentioned above come equipped with grills, so if you fancy yourself a “grill master,” you can’t miss burgers, hot dogs, or other sausages and grilled veggie kabobs or fresh grilled corn on the cob. Remember your non-meat-eating friends, though, and have black bean burger options for them too! 

When it comes to dessert, let’s face it, though the weather is idyllic in San Diego, it’s going to be a little warm out, so you want to keep things cool. However, frozen desserts may be out of the question unless you have a way to keep them completely frozen until it’s time to serve. Something like a parfait, a simple apple cake, or even two-bite cupcakes are perfect. There’s also beauty in the simplicity of a tray of cookies. That way, guests don’t feel pressured to partake in dessert, or on the flip side, they can indulge in a ton if they want!

When you’re planning your party, drinks are a fun way to incorporate your theme; some hosts even opt to name drinks specifically for the event. However, you may be bummed to hear this, but alcohol consumption is not permitted on most beaches in San Diego, and you can’t drink at all on the beach at Pacific Beach. While all San Diego beaches worth visiting are so beautiful, it’s easy to get past this, and it does limit you as far as the drink menu is concerned. If you are dead-set on serving alcohol at your event, you can easily apply for permits, though. 

Therefore great alternatives are sparkling waters like Topo Chico, Spindrift, Waterloo, or good old Pelligrino. Making your own cucumber or lemon water is always a refreshing treat if you have the time and inclination. Make sure you’ve got a cooler full of ice and display the drinks artfully while propping your cooler or drink container. 

What Should You Do at Your Beach Party?

What shouldn’t you do at your beach party in San Diego? First of all, you’re in one of the most beautiful places you can be, so celebrate the simplicity of your awe-inspiring surroundings at your event and let them guide your activities planned – if you even want to go that route. If the party is for adults only, you could arrange some games on any part of the spectrum, from corny to risque. You do, at minimum, want some music (as simple as a BlueTooth speaker and curated playlist or hire a quartet if it suits you). If you and your guests are a little athletically inclined, badminton or beach volleyball are always fun. 

If the party is for children, you do need to have some fun plans up your sleeve. Good things for a beach party for children are the same in many ways as indoor parties. But you could have water balloons or squirt guns, a bubble machine, a sandcastle building contest, and the list is endless. But, no matter the age of the people in attendance, favors are always fun, so don’t forget them.

For adults, souvenirs from the party can be specific to the theme (a bottle of pink nail polish if it’s a baby girl gender reveal party, a bottle of wine for any adult that isn’t dry, even gourmet chocolates, even better if they’re local chocolates). For children, favors are easier. Most children are particular about what the theme of their party is going to be, so just stick with that – if it’s a “character” party, favors are easy. If they want a dinosaur or mermaid party, you may have to do a little bit more in-depth shopping, but you get the idea.

The main thing to remember when planning your perfect beach party is to try not to sweat it. You’re in La Jolla, life is easy, and the weather is undoubtedly breezy. Make sure you develop a theme that makes sense for you and the type of event you’re throwing, and the rest will fall into place. Focus on being a good host, and your friends and loved ones (or coworkers) won’t notice the little details that go wrong – and some will go wrong. But, it will be a smashing success if you follow the outlines mentioned above. Cheers!

About the author: Kara Housdan is a professional stylist and freelance writer who focuses on wellness, motherhood, minimalism, and fashion.

Best Instagrams of July 4th 2021 In San Diego

San Diego’s known for its epic beaches, fireworks, and rich military history so where better to spend a 4th of July with your friends and family. 

 

Take a scroll to see our top pics from all around San Diego during this year’s celebrations! 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Even big-time Instagram influencers like Addison Rae got into the action with a Fourth of July post.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cove Fireworks Cancelled : Our Top 4 Firework Recommendations for Locals Seeking A New Spot

Happy 4th of July! 

Due to the recent development at the La Jolla Cove, there will be no firework show there tonight leaving many locals scambling to find a new spot to watch. Luckily, we did our homework this time and got you covered with our top 5 spots that aren’t our beloved La Jolla Cove….

 

Short Drives North & South

1) MISSION BAY
SeaWorld fireworks: SeaWorld San Diego start their firework show at 9:30 tonight. If you’re close enough or in the park, you will be able to hear a patriotic soundtrack to go along with the blasts. Prime viewing of this show can be found away from Seaworld anywhere you can see the bay such as…

  • Kate Sessions Park 
  • Mount Soledad 
  • Bay Ho
  • Crown Point Park
  • Mission Beach
  • Anywhere along the Mission Bay Bike Path 

 

 

2) Del Mar
Del Mar Fairgrounds fireworks: The Del Mar Fair’s annual grand finale is the fireworks on 4th of July. They start popping tonight at 9pm. All can purchase tickets to see them from the fairground themselves but other free viewing points include….

  • Del Mar Beach
  • Solana Beach 
  • Del Mar Plaza 
  • Northside of Crest Canyon Hiking Trails 

 

Towards Downtown 

1) San Diego Harbor
Big Bay Boom: the largest of all firework shows in San Diego begins at 9pm from four barges parked in the harbor. Some areas to consider for watching include …

  • Shelter Island 
  • Harbor front (think near the Midway Museum)  
  • Mission Hills (think anywhere you can see the airport from above) 
  • Spanish Landing 
  • Cesar E Chavez Park 
  • Anywhere along the Harbor Bike Path 

 

 

2) Coronado Island

Glorietta Bay fireworks: From Coronado most should be able to see the Big Bay Boom, but at 9pm there is an independent show from Glorietta Bay, south of the bridge and near the backside of The Del. Most viewers will need to be on the Island to get an upclose and personal show but they should be visible from….

  • National City
  • Chula Vista
  • Stingray Point 
  • Logan Heights

Bird's Surf Shed, one of San Diego's best surf shops

Surf Shops in San Diego

Looking for surf gear? These are the best surf shops in San Diego for those looking for some wave riding action.

Whether you are a tourist, local, or new transplant, chances are that at some point you will find yourself asking “Where can I buy a surfboard in San Diego?” It might be the great surf breaks, the warm water, or the draw of the city itself, but whatever it is, San Diego has become one of the West Coast’s preeminent surf meccas. San Diego surfboard companies have sprung up everywhere and the number of surfboard shops in San Diego has exploded as well.

The Best Surf Shops in San Diego

It is this very popularity that makes it all but impossible to navigate the hundreds of surf shops in San Diego, so if you are wondering “where can I find some surf shops near me?” you are not alone. Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of the best surf shops in San Diego. Below you can search for shops that meet your needs and are in your neighborhood.

Mitch’s

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mitch’s Surf Shop has just about anything you could possibly need to have a great time on the beach. Their expertise extends well beyond just surfboards in San Diego. The La Jolla surf shop even has paddle boarding and spearfishing gear. Both locations offer rentals too, so if you just want to try something out or if you are just in town for a few days, they have you covered. Finally, Mitch’s has a great selection of blanks and resin shaping supplies for all you San Diego surfboard shapers out there.

  • La Jolla: 631 Pearl St., La Jolla, CA 92037.
  • Phone: (858) 459-5933
  • Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., closes at 5 p.m. on Sundays

  • Solana Beach: 363 North Highway 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075.
  • Phone: (858) 481-1354
  • Hours: Solana Beach 10:15 a.m. – 5:45 p.m., closed on Sundays

Bird’s Surf Shed

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Bird’s likes to say that it is “way more than a surf shop. It’s a San Diego surf destination.” And, in this case, that is not just hyperbole. Bird’s has been around for decades and is a cornerstone of San Diego surf culture. They even have surf film premiers and hands-on board shaping clinics from the best in the business. The store is covered with surfboards – from floor to ceiling… literally! They have boards all the way up the walls and all over the ceiling.

  • Bay Park: 1091 W. Morena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110.
  • Phone: (619) 276-2473
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., closes at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays

PB Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Pacific Beach Surf Shop is not quite like the other surf shops in San Diego. Yes, they have boards, wetsuits, and everything you would find at any other shop out there, but they also run one of the most affordable surf schools in the San Diego area. The shop (and school) are well-established, to say the least: they have been open since 1962 and show no sign of closing any time soon.

  • Pacific Beach: 4208 Oliver Ct. San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 373-1138
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. all week long

Clairemont Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Clairemont Surf Shop is definitely not a newcomer to the San Diego surfing scene. This family-owned and operated shop has been helping people enjoy San Diego’s breaks since 1976. If you need something, they will probably have it. No matter what their shelves look like when you visit, the one thing that they are 100% certain to have is expertise.

  • Clairemont: 6393 Balboa Ave. San Diego, CA 92111
  • Phone: (858) 292-1153
  • Hours: Mon-Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Weekends: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Mission Surf

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Here is a surf shop that really thinks outside of the box. Other surf shops can offer you what you need to surf, but Mission Surf can also help you be where you need to surf. The shop rents two Airbnb apartments out directly over the store. You can roll out of bed, get everything you need for the day downstairs, and be out the door and on the beach faster than you could say “surf store San Diego.” From there you can choose to surf right on Mission Beach or head up a few minutes north to Tourmaline Beach. You really can’t go wrong.

  • Mission Beach: 4320 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 292-1153
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

Solana Surfboards

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This surf shop is a bit of an outlier insofar as it is an online surf shop. All the same, Solana is local and makes extremely high-quality custom hand-built surfboards. If you want the best and are willing to pay for what you get, this might be the place for you.

  • Torrey Hills: 11211 Sorrento Valley Rd Ste. H San Diego, CA
  • Phone: (858) 876-2120
  • Hours: Online sales only, so no hours listed

South Coast Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This shop has a strong local history and dates back to 1974. Its local charm and its business success have led to it opening four sister stores scattered across San Diego. They have a great online store and are very well-stocked.

  • Ocean Beach: 5023 Newport Avenue Ocean Beach, CA 92107 
  • Phone: (619) 223-7017
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

  • Pacific Beach: 740 Felspar St., San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 483-7660
  • Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. all week long

Sun Diego Boardshop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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These guys have way more than just surfboards; actually, if you can think of anything that ends in the word “board,” they probably have it: surfboards, skateboards, paddleboards, and even snowboards! They have three locations, so be sure to pick the one closest to you.

  • Belmont Park | Mission Beach: 3126 Mission Blvd. Suite A, San Diego, 92109
  • Phone: (858) 866-0108
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. all week long

  • Fashion Valley: 7007 Friars Rd #844 San Diego, CA 92108
  • Phone: (619) 268-2295
  • Mon-Thurs: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sun: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

  • Westfield UTC 4465 La Jolla Village Drive Suite #H-14, San Diego, 92122
  • Phone: (858) 646-0632
  • Mon-Thurs: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sun: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Rip Curl Surf Center

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Rip Curl is one of the most recognizable names in surfing and has tons of stores and outlets around San Diego, but the best is the surf center in Pacific Beach. If it has anything to do with surfing, chances are that Rip Curl will have it. They also have an extensive line of clothing for all ages and genders.

  • Pacific Beach: 4287 Mission Blvd. #A CA Pacific Beach, 92109
  • Phone: (858) 273-8070
  • Everyday Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. all week long

Surf Diva Surf School

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This school is run by the experienced surfers (and twin sisters) Izzy and Coco Tihanyi. They have won a bevy of awards for their work, and have done a great deal to introduce women and girls to surfing over the years. Regardless of your gender, however, if you are looking for surf lessons in La Jolla, this is your place. The school doubles as a surf boutique that is filled with surf-related knick-knacks, and you are sure to find something that strikes your fancy inside. If you are interested in La Jolla surfing, this is the spot for you.

  • La Jolla: 2160 Avenida de la Playa, San Diego, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 454-8273
  • Hours: Mon-Thu: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Fri-Sun: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Cheap Rentals

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you are looking to rent any kind of surf-related gear, this is the place to go if you want to save a few bucks. Don’t let the name fool you though; even though it says “cheap,” the store gives off a classy and fun vibe and the things they rent out are all in good shape.

  • Mission Beach: 3689 Mission Blvd., San Diego, California 92109
  • Phone: (858) 488-9070
  • Hours: Mon-Sun: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Surf Ride

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The two locations for this shop are both in the Solana Beach/Oceanside area, so if you live a bit north of downtown San Diego, this could be the place for you. In addition to stocking all of the latest accessories, boards, and brands, they also run a popular surf camp.

  • Oceanside: 1909 South Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054
  • Phone: (760) 433-4020
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

  • Solana Beach: 325 North Highway 101 Solana Beach, CA 92075
  • Phone (858) 755-0858
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

Emerald City

 

 
 
 
 
 
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They call themselves the premier surf shop of Coronado for a very good reason: they are. Named after Coronado’s evergreen barrels, the shop opened in 1988 and has been going strong ever since. They have everything you could ever want to buy, as well as a large selection of rentals if you are just in town for a few days. If you are looking to buy, however, they have a price matching guarantee that can save you the trouble of having to shop at all the surf shops in San Diego to find a great deal.

  • Coronado Island: 1118 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
  • Phone: (619) 435-6677
  • Hours: Mon–Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Sun: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Atacama Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The shop chose the name Atacama after the driest place on the planet earth: the Atacama Desert. The people who have lived in and around the desert have had to use ingenuity and creativity to eke out an existence in that hostile terrain, and the store holds these same values. They pride themselves on constantly innovating. Their central location allows them to partner with all kinds of local San Diego businesses, and the result is that they always have something new and exciting going on.

  • Harborview: 2165 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 795-6178
  • Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Weekends: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

One of the great perks of living in San Diego is access to some of the best surfing beaches you can find. Luckily, surf shops in San Diego can be found in nearly every neighborhood and can cater to all levels of surfer. If you are just starting out, then you might want to gravitate towards one of the shops that offer lessons and rentals. If you are an experienced surfer, then head on over to an old-school surf shop where you can hang out and learn about new breaks from other surfers. Whatever your skill or interest level, if it has to do with surfing the surf shops in San Diego have got you covered.

About the banner photo: This IG photo of Bird’s Surf Shed is courtesy of @lightspeed_outdoors

Bioluminescence in San Diego

Bioluminescence in San Diego

Imagine how cool it would look if someone emptied out a million glow sticks into a swimming pool. Now imagine that a mad scientist found a way to make the glow sticks inactive until the water was disturbed – in other words, the water would look like normal water until something moved it. Drop a penny in the pool, and it will glow like a comet all the way to the bottom. Well, nature is better than even the maddest scientist out there, and has, over the course of millions of years, cooked-up a natural phenomenon just like the spectacle described above… but on steroids and sprinkled with fairy dust.

The Bioluminescent Waves & Beaches in San Diego

A bioluminescent beach in San Diego, La Jolla
A bioluminescent beach in La Jolla. Photo by BommaritoArt.com.

These natural phenomena are called bioluminescent waves, and if seeing these waves in person is not on your bucket list then you either do not know what they are or you are more boring than Ben Stein giving a lecture about the impact stamp collecting has on liquidity in the municipal bond market. Fortunately, you do not need to travel the world over to experience this awe-inspiring site for yourself because it is right in your own backyard. It is not that hard to find a bioluminescent beach in San Diego.

What Is Bioluminescence in San Diego?

Chances are, that even if you have never been to a bioluminescent beach in San Diego, you are already familiar with at least one bioluminescent phenomenon: fireflies. Bioluminescence simply refers to any organism that produces light. There are many different organisms that are capable of bioluminescence, and they can be quite different from one another – for instance, the bioluminescent plankton in San Diego are entirely different from the bioluminescence of fireflies. People travel the world to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon, but the chances are that there is a bioluminescent beach in San Diego near you right now. Before we get into that, however, let’s start with the basics.

What Is a Natural Phenomena 

First, the grammar nerd in me is just screaming to point out that, even though most people say “a natural phenomena,” it should actually be “a natural phenomenon” because “phenomena” is the plural form of “phenomenon.” Okay, I feel better now that I got that out there. In any event, regardless of how you choose to say it, there is still the question of what exactly natural phenomena are.

The dictionary definition is that a phenomenon is simply something that can be seen, heard, felt, etc.; however, in practice, it usually means something that is exceptional or unusual that can be seen, heard, felt, etc. So natural phenomena are simply things that occur in nature that are interesting and exceptional – think a solar eclipse, a cicada emergence, or a tornado.

Is There Still Bioluminescence in San Diego?

The short answer is “it depends.” The presence of bioluminescent algae in San Diego can change drastically from even one day to the next, but they are most common during the spring and summer months. To get an exact answer as to if you can see them right now, your best bet is to look at resources that are updated from one minute to the next. Places like Reddit, news outlets, Facebook, and surf cams are all good bets. Another resource that might be helpful is UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute. They study red tides (which cause bioluminescent waves) and are even working on a forecasting tool so that soon they will be able to predict when the next one will be near you.

 Where to See Bioluminescence in San Diego?

When the San Diego bioluminescent waves are in town, you can likely see them along most of the coast. That said, the best place to see bioluminescence in San Diego is at a beach with as little man-made light as possible. The darker out it is, the better you will be able to see the bioluminescent lights San Diego style. Some good spots would include Torrey Pines, State Beach, Sunset Cliffs, and Solana Beach in San Diego’s North County.

If you would like to learn more about the beaches near you, these links have oodles of information that will help you figure out just where exactly you would like to have your mind blown: La Jolla beaches, Del Mar beaches, Coronado beaches, and Mission beaches.

Bioluminescent waves in San Diego
Bioluminescent waves in San Diego. Photo by BommaritoArt.com.

Are Bioluminescent Algae Still in San Diego?

Well, the fact is that there are always some bioluminescent algae in San Diego – it is just that there are not usually enough to put on a show. The kind of algae we want are called dinoflagellates, and, just like all plankton, they are much happier when there is plenty of food and nutrients around for them to gobble up. The nutrients they like can come from currents, upwellings, storms, and even man-made waste.

When the algae find a source of food, they reproduce like bunny rabbits. Their numbers increase so rapidly that they frequently turn the water a reddish color, and for this reason when their population explodes people call it a “red tide.” There are a number of websites that track the water quality of local beaches, and these will tell you if there is a red tide in the area. If there is a red tide, the odds of finding bioluminescence in San Diego go through the roof.

What Is the Best Time to See Bioluminescence in San Diego?

The spring and summer months are the times when it is most likely that you will be able to see bioluminescent waves in San Diego. Bioluminescent algae like warm water, so if you want the very best chance possible, shoot for late summer.

How Long Does Bioluminescence Last in San Diego? 

The length of time the bioluminescent algae in San Diego stick around depends on how long the nutrients they like to munch on last, which, depending on their source, can be anywhere from a week to a month or more. 

How Often Does Bioluminescence Occur in San Diego?

Bioluminescence in San Diego usually happens once every few years. There have been times, however, when bioluminescence in San Diego has happened in sequential years. Though this used to be a rare occurrence, the odds of it happening are actually increasing quite rapidly because of climate change. It is kind of like the consolation prize we humans get for doing such a great job of ruining our atmosphere.  

Bioluminescence is a natural phenomena in San Diego
Bioluminescence is one of many natural phenomena in San Diego. Photo by BommaritoArt.com.

A Few Tips

While it is almost impossible to not have a jaw-droppingly memorable experience if you get a chance to witness bioluminescence in San Diego, there are a few things that you will want to consider before heading out. Chief among these is safety. Remember that you are going to purposely try and find beaches that are dark and isolated. 

To make sure that you know where you are going, it is a really good idea to scout out the area you plan on visiting ahead of time in the daylight. Many of the paths along the shore with the best views also just happen to be terrifyingly close to cliffs and bluffs. Just because you put seeing bioluminescence in San Diego on your bucket list, that does not mean that you want to kick the bucket right after you see it! Scouting the area will also help you get to know the best route to take so that you do not get lost.

Assuming you figure out where you are going and how to safely get there, you will almost certainly want to take pictures. I mean, let’s be honest – if you are going to go around telling people you saw the ocean come alive, sparkle, and turn neon blue in the middle of the night, you will probably want proof. 

To get a good picture, you will need to do better than just using the standard settings on your phone. While almost any bioluminescent beach in San Diego is likely to be absolutely spectacular in person, the amount of light that the bioluminescent waves put out is less than your phone is meant to capture. Ideally, you will be able to bring along a standalone digital camera, but whatever you use to take the pictures, the key will be to use a longer-than-normal exposure time. This will allow the camera to collect enough light to truly showcase the beauty of the bioluminescent waves. Just be sure to keep your camera as still as possible because the longer exposure time makes it very easy to get a blurry picture if your camera moves even the slightest bit.

Bioluminescent waves in San Diego are the kind of natural phenomena that people spend thousands of dollars and travel the world to see, so don’t under-appreciate just how lucky you are to get the chance to visit a bioluminescent beach in San Diego. Take your time and soak it in. It is a spectacle that will not only leave you in awe of its beauty, but will also remind you just how amazing this world we live on truly is – and that is something we could all use.

About the author: Ethan Margolis is an academic research librarian and freelance author. He is also a lifelong musician who loves writing and playing all types of music, and especially enjoys the classical guitar.

Photo credit: The beautiful photos of San Diego bioluminescence, including the banner photo, on this page are from local photographer Jeff Bommarito. Check out his website at BommaritoArt.com.

San Diego is still beautiful during Covid, with lots of things to do

Things To Do in San Diego During Covid

The current pandemic situation has surely taken its toll on our lives, from how we learn to our traveling habits. Many counties were under lockdown for quite some time, including San Diego, until just recently when the regional stay home order was lifted and San Diego moved to Purple Tier. Because of this, you might ask yourself, “What to do in San Diego?” After all, there’s only so many times you can refresh your social media feed or try to find out if you have any unclaimed money or check to see if anything good was released on Netflix today. Well, businesses have been allowed to reopen with some restrictions.

Save up to 60% on San Diego Activities

 

 

The following restrictions are currently active in the state:

  • Restaurants are open for outdoor dining and take-outs.
  • No indoor use of libraries.
  • Movie theaters, family entertainment centers, and casinos are closed down unless they are outdoors.
  • Indoor hair salons and barbershops are closed.
  • All indoor recreational facilities are closed.
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums are closed. They are permitted to operate only outdoors.

Basically, indoor activities are still forbidden. Nonetheless, these restrictions should not keep you from having a fun-filled vacation. Going on vacation and finding things to do in San Diego during Covid is perfectly safe if you follow all the safety guidelines against covid-19 transmission

What To Do in San Diego During Covid?

Luckily, most of the fun things to be done in San Diego are outside, which is excellent against the spread of coronavirus. So, let’s move on and see what fun activities can be done in San Diego, even during the covid-19 pandemic. 

Enjoy a picnic on one of the many beautiful beaches in the area. Restaurants may be closed for indoor dining, but they are still open for take-out, so you can still enjoy your favorite meal in an even better setting than a restaurant.

Go hiking. Go cycling. Go off-roading. Go kayaking. Go fishing. Do yoga on Sunset Cliffs. Watch the sun set into the ocean. There are plenty of alluring beaches in the area, so we’ve made a list of the most popular ones:

Hotel del Coronado. Photo By BommaritoArt.com.

Coronado Beach

Located on Coronado Island, this gorgeous beach is also close to the Hotel del Coronado. The hotel dates back to the 19th century and is a popular destination for royalty and celebrities. It contains four beach areas, including Coronado City Beach, Tidelands Park, Glorietta Bay Park, and Centennial Park. Tidelands Park and Glorietta Bay Park both have picnic areas, grassy fields, and play areas for children. All the beaches have glittery sand due to the presence of mica, which makes it sparkle under the sun, making it look like gold. You can easily reach this beach by public bus, car, private shuttle, or taxi via San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. 

 

 

 

La Jolla Cove Beach

This beach is located at the northeast end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla. From the grass park above, two stairs lead you down to the beach. For a little after-meal adventure, you can explore the tunnel at the south end of the cove that will lead you to some pretty cool tide pools. This if you are willing to hop around on large boulders.

Save up to 60% on San Diego Activities

 

 

 

 

Solana Beach

Solana Beach is a secluded spot in San Diego’s North County with many hidden coves (accessible by staircase on nearly every street corner). Solana is also a great place for antique and vintage shoppers, being home to the Cedros Design District.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach, most commonly known as “The Strand,” is a two-mile stretch of beach and one of the top destinations in San Diego, drawing crowds every season of the year. It has an abundance of shops and restaurants along its north end where you can grab a delicious bite to enjoy on the beach. 

Enjoy a North County Staycation

North County San Diego is the perfect place for a relaxing staycation. You are conveniently close to downtown San Diego where you can find whatever you may need, and there are plenty of beautiful places in nature where you can enjoy a breath of fresh air. Here you can find some great ocean view rentals for the best staycation experience.  So what activities can you still enjoy, even during the coronavirus pandemic, here in North County?

 

Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla
The PGA comes to La Jolla. Torrey Pines Golf Course. Photo By BommaritoArt.com.

Visit Torrey Pines Natural Reserve

The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park is one of the most beautiful places to see in South California & one of the top things to do in San Diego during Covid. With desert landscapes, breathtaking coastal sights, pine forests, sandstone canyons, rugged cliffs, and hiking trails on the bluffs that offer gorgeous views of the ocean that will make your trip simply unforgettable. From the high viewpoints on the bluffs, especially the ones that stick out into the ocean, you can have a novel experience watching migrating gray whales from December to March.

Spend a Day at the Famous Swami’s Beach

Swami’s Beach is an internationally known surfing spot located in Encinitas that draws up surfers from around the world, especially during the fall-winter seasons when waves can surpass 10 feet. On days like that, surfers line up to catch their big wave, and people gather on the cliffs above to watch the surfers tackle the ocean’s waves. The beach also has a spiritually rich history. It gets its name from Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian monk, yogi, and guru that chose the grounds of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram, built in 1937, to overlook this reef point.

Visit the Historical Oceanside Pier

Standing 1,942 feet long, the historical Oceanside Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks of Oceanside city. Its first piling was driven into the sand 125 years ago, and the remnants of that first pier are still there, occasionally making an appearance during low tides and low sand levels.

Go on a Wine Tasting Tour

San Diego North County offers plenty of choices when it comes to wine tasting. More than 60 grape varieties are grown commercially throughout the county, from Albariño to Zinfandel, with small, often family-owned wineries producing a wide range of whites, reds, and rosés, plus sparkling, port, and dessert-style wines.

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Check Out the Local Surfing Spots

If you want to enjoy the ocean view and experience the waves, the San Diego area surfing scene is abundant and colorful, and you can surely find the most suitable waves for your surfing skills. Here are some of the best surfing spots in North County:

  • Swami’s Beach, Encinitas
  • Windansea, La Jolla
  • Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado
  • Imperial Beach Pier, Imperial Beach
  • Ocean Beach, San Diego
  • Cardiff Reef, Cardiff-by-the-Sea

 

 

 


We know it’s hard to plan for a vacation and find things to do in San Diego during Covid within these restrictive times we live in. Still, you deserve a relaxing, recharging break, and we hope that the information we provided in this article will help you make the right choice for a perfect vacation, even during the pandemic.

Photo Credit: Banner Photo by BommaritoArt.com

San Diego Outdoor Activities

San Diego is known as one of the most active, fit, and outdoor living communities in the whole country. When the weather is this nice all the time, who wants to stay stuck inside? Over the year's LaJolla.com has had the privilege of covering some of the best outdoor activities in all of San Diego. Take a look at our favorite articles and let us know in the comments what your favorite activity is or which ones we're missing!

 

Best Beach Activities for Families Visiting La Jolla

In the San Diego area, one of the best beaches to visit and bring your family to is La Jolla. There are a ton of activities that the area provides. No matter how old your kids might be, there is an adventure to be discovered at La Jolla. This article will discuss five beach activities that you can do at La Jolla with your family.

1. Beach Volleyball

For families who like a little bit of competition to go along with their fun, beach volleyball is an excellent activity to try. While bringing your own ball is a no-brainer, it’s also a good idea to bring your own net just in case. Packing a couple of Cobra volleyball nets means getting to play no matter what. Many of the beaches in and around La Jolla have designated areas for volleyball that include two permanent poles for stringing up a net, but sometimes the net isn’t there.

2. Building Sandcastles

There are actually quite a few sandcastle competitions in San Diego. Your family can start honing your skills early by building sandcastles at La Jolla. Even the humble castle should be considered a great achievement. It’s no easy thing making sand stand up on its own and hold its shape. Your family can experience a great team-building exercise as you hurry to and from the water to keep your sand moldable. It’s also a great way to encourage your child’s creativity.

3. Scuba Diving

One thing that La Jolla offers is scuba diving lessons. These you typically have to sign up for, so it’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time to find out when the best time to sign up is. Once you’re in the program, however, you and your family can suit up and learn how to use the oxygen tanks and other equipment. Once you’ve been trained, you’re able to do a bit of scuba diving in La Jolla and look at some of the sea life of the Pacific Ocean. Children will likely love seeing the colorful fish in their natural habitat, but note the minimum age is 10 years old.

4. Sea Lion Watching

La Jolla has a lot of sea lions and seals on the beach at certain parts of the day. While you should never encourage your children to touch them–no matter how furry they might look–you can enjoy watching their antics. Usually, they like to just sleep around. However, once they’re active, sea lions can be quite fun to watch. They play, fight, and try to outswim one another. Your children will love watching sea lions on the beach.

5. The Children’s Pool

One part of La Jolla is an area where the tide is quite low and becomes shallow. This is a perfect area for children to swim and enjoy and has since been called The Children’s Pool. This area is almost considered family-friendly except that it does have some potentially dangerous wildlife. Sea lions and seals have been known to make the area their hangout spot. If the area is clear, however, The Children’s Pool is an excellent place for families to swim and look at sea life with their smaller children.

La Jolla is an incredible beachfront community offering an abundance of activities for families. Whether you like to swim and be active or just relax and watch the local wildlife, this beach is for you.

Snorkeling in La Jolla: 6 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.

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Here are just a few reasons why snorkeling La Jolla Cove and the Underwater Park/Ecological Reserve should be at 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 this unique map near the boardwalk between the restrooms and the children’s play area at the south end of Kellogg Park.

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5. The La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park is federally protected and provides fantastic snorkeling.

The La Jolla Underwater Park 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. With this added protection, marine life has flourished over the years – which makes for some fantastic snorkeling!

6. 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 that 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

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 with a partner on your own if you feel comfortable doing so. Make sure to rent a mask and snorkel for a full day so you have plenty of time to explore. You can take a guided tour with experienced professionals if you prefer. 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!

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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 or up on the cliff walking trails high above the sea near the train tracks. 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 which can be used for a fee or if you have a California State parking pass. Public parking can be found at the bottom of the hill 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 looking for things to do. 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.