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La Jolla Beaches – La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove and Beyond!

8200 Camino del Oro
La Jolla, CA 92037

Region: La Jolla

Buried treasure on the sands of San Diego's central coast.

Known as "The Jewel" of San Diego, La Jolla features luxury homes, fine dining and upscale shopping that rivals Rodeo Drive. But the real jewels in La Jolla are the beaches, which are freely available for visitors and locals alike. The La Jolla coastline varies dramatically - from 300 foot sea cliffs, to rocky reefs, to golden sand coves, exploring La Jolla’s beaches is an exhilarating and inspiring experience.

Where to Go:

  • La Jolla Shores is a mile long crescent of prime sand beach favored by active beachgoers of all interests.  Anchored by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier, this is a busy swimming area popular among families and surfers alike. Shielded by La Jolla Bay, it is also used as a launching ground for scuba diving and kayaking.  At night it's alive with the glow of beach fires and the nervous energy of young adults socializing. 
  • Fortified by 300 foot sea cliffs is Torrey Pines City Beach, home to Black's Beach, is located at the northern most point of La Jolla. Difficult and hazardous to access for the public, this spot is favored by local surfers and body boarders.  And although nudity is prohibited by law in California, Black's Beach is frequented by those who prefer to enjoy the surf and sand in the buff.
  • La Jolla Cove is the north facing point on the seaward end of the cliffs that form a small deep water bay here. The cliffs are riddled with sea caves of special fascination to kayakers who paddle over from La Jolla Shores Beach. La Jolla Cove itself has a fine little beach, on busy summer days, visitor and locals will flock to the area for terrific swimming and snorkeling afforded by The Cove's sheltered waters and abundance of bright orange Garibaldi fish and other tame marine life (The Cove has long been protected from fishing of any kind). Scuba divers and ocean swimmers use The Cove as a safe point of entry and exit. No surfboards, boogie boards or rafts of any kind are allowed. There is an excellent grass park adjacent to The Cove with bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, a paved pedestrian walkway and several public gazebos.
  • The Children’s Pool, located close to downtown La Jolla, is a small cove protected by a concrete breakwater wall originally built to create a safe swimming area for children. Now, however, the area is a protected area frequented by seals and sea lions who beach themselves on the sand with their young.
  • If you continue south, you'll arrive at Hospitals, which is a great reef but a poor beach. At low tide there are wonderful tidepools and great shelling all along the coast here. The conditions don't often cooperate, but when they do, it's the best dive site in town, with dramatic undersea arches and ledges chock full of lobster. At the south end by the gazebo is the Hospitals surf spot, the northernmost of La Jolla's reefbreaks.
  • The road leaves the coast between Horseshoe and Windansea, which prevents most people from ever finding Marine Street Beach, the prettiest, whitest beach in all of San Diego. As such, the beach here is dominated by teens and locals. Marine Street's claim to fame is its wicked shorebreak otherwise known as 'womp.' Bodysurfers and bodyboarders get short, deep tube rides as the waves hit the steep shelf and unload onto the shore. There are several nameless surfbreaks on the reefs at either end of the beach - all fickle, all dangerous, all heavily localized, but also very, very, very good when they're on...
  • Windansea is the next beach traveling southward. Made famous by Tom Wolfe's story 'The Pump House Gang,' Windansea was and is all about fitting in. The break is an easy left/right peak that breaks on any tide, any swell and practically any day of the year. It's accordingly crowded, and the crowd accordingly competitive. Swimming is best on the south half of the beach between Kolmar Street and Big Rock Reef. Lifeguards supervise near the grass shack at the end of Bonaire Street in summertime.

Parking

  • The parking lot at La Jolla Shores is big but not big enough to handle summer crowds. Most people arrive at noon and leave around 4:00 pm. Come early for the beach or late for the sunset and you're almost guaranteed to find a spot.
  • Most beaches rely on street parking in designated spots and neighborhoods, so come early if you want to find a spot.   

Bathrooms & Showers

  • Restrooms and shower facilities are available at La Jolla Shores Beach.
  • Restroom facilities available at the Children’s Pool.

Lifeguards

  • Lifeguard stations at La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool are staffed year-around, starting at 9:00 am until dusk.

Popular Activities

  • Surfing, boogie boarding and body surfing at La Jolla Shores and Black's Beach.
  • Swimming at La Jolla Cove, and other designated areas.
  • Scuba diving and snorkeling
  • Jogging, walking and biking along boardwalks in La Jolla Shores and paved trails from La Jolla Cove to the Children’s Pool

Directions to La Jolla Beaches

  • From the northbound 5 FWY exit La Jolla Parkway west to La Jolla Shores Drive. Turn left at Avenida De La Playa, right on Camino Del Oro two blocks to Kellogg Park.
  • From the southbound 5 FWY exit La Jolla Village Drive west, then left on Torrey Pines Road and right on La Jolla Shores Drive. Turn left at Avenida De La Playa, right on Camino Del Oro two blocks to Kellogg Park.

What to Love

  • La Jolla Cove is, hands down, the best place for snorkeling in San Diego. Book a guided tour or rent gear on your own. A good point of entry to the cove is next to the restrooms at Scripps Park.
  • Guided kayak tours are offered from around La Jolla Shores, for an up-close and personal experience with marine life and a view of the caves and rugged coastline.
  • Scripps Park, just above La Jolla Cove, is a great place for romping and picnicking while enjoying magnificent views of the Pacific.
  • For $4.00 ($3 for kids 16 years and under) you can descend a spooky tunnel in the basement of the old Curio Shop (on Coast Blvd, just off Prospect Street) to Sunny Jim's Cave.

What to Know

  • The Children's Pool is a great place to walk out on the sea wall to observe the seals and sea lions up close, but please do not try and interact directly with these protected animals.
  • Black's Beach is tricky to get to and many people have died, become injured or hopelessly stuck trying. Swimming here is also hazardous and there are no lifeguards on duty.
  • During the summer months, the tight streets of La Jolla become crowded with pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Be very careful when driving and parking.

Browse the articles and listings below to discover more things to do in "The Jewel" of San Diego!

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