La Jolla Beaches
8200 Camino del Oro
La Jolla, CA 92037
Region: La Jolla
San Diego's Glimmering Central Coast
Known as "The Jewel" of San Diego, La Jolla is the place for luxury homes, fine dining and upscale shopping that rivals Rodeo Drive. But the real jewels in La Jolla are the pristine beaches and jaw-dropping, wave-crashing views.
The La Jolla coastline varies dramatically, from 300-foot sea cliffs, to rocky reefs, to secluded coves and wide golden sandy shores. Although La Jolla’s picturesque coastal landscape makes portions of the beach inaccessible, the views are beyond spectacular, as waves and whitewater break onto rocky outcroppings, as seals and sea lions gracefully navigate safe landing onto their protected cove.
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.
- At the northernmost point of La Jolla is Torrey Pines City Beach. Fortified by 300-foot sea cliffs, a nature walk along the bluffs through native vegetation—including the signature Torrey pine—leads to endless views of the Pacific. Here you’ll find long stretches of beach ideal for sunbathing and family fun adjacent to a large parking area. Further south is home to famed Black's Beach. Although difficult and hazardous to access, this spot is a favorite among local surfers and bodyboarders—and those who prefer to enjoy the surf and sand in the buff, despite California law prohibiting public nudity.
- La Jolla Cove is a small deep water bay, flanked by sea caves accessible to adventurers in kayaks and on foot, depending on the tides. The beach itself is small, but it’s usually tame waters are popular with swimmers and snorkelers hoping to see local natives like the bright-orange Garibaldi fish and other marine life. The Cove is easily accessible via maintained stairs and walkways, sitting just below a large grass park with bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, a paved pedestrian walkway and several public gazebos.
- The Children's Pool, located close to downtown La Jolla and walking distance from La Jolla Cove, is a small cove protected by a concrete breakwater wall. It was originally built as a safe swimming area for children but was claimed long ago by seals and sea lions who beach themselves on the sand with their young. Although now closed for swimming, the Children’s Pool offers a crowd-pleasing and often amusing view of these loveable marine inhabitants.
- If you continue south, you'll arrive at Hospitals, which is a great reef but a poor beach. At low tide there are wonderful tide pools for exploring 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 often full of lobster. At the south end by the gazebo is the Hospitals surf spot, the northernmost of La Jolla's reef breaks.
- Windansea is the next major beach traveling southward. Made famous by Tom Wolfe's story The Pump House Gang, Windansea is a popular family beach with access to rich tide pools during low tides. It’s also a well-known surf spot, attracting local crowds and its share of competition for waves. Swimming and bodyboarding are best on the south half of the beach.
- 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 p.m. Come early for the beach or late for the sunset for better parking options, including street parking in designated spots and neighborhoods.
Bathrooms & Showers
- Restrooms and shower facilities are available at La Jolla Shores Beach.
- Restroom facilities available at the Children's Pool.
- Lifeguard stations at La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove and the Children's Pool are staffed year-around, starting at 9:00 a.m. until dusk.
- 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.
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. However, please do not try and interact directly with these protected animals.
- Getting to Black's Beach is tricky and hazardous, with a steep, cliff-side descent. Swimming here is also hazardous and there are no lifeguards on duty.
- During the summer months, the tight streets of La Jolla can become crowded with pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.