La Jolla Cove Tips from a San Diego Expert
A beloved landmark of both San Diego natives and visitors alike, the La Jolla Cove is home to more than Southern California’s millionares, it’s home to a large colony of Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions. Visitors can watch these animals and even swim with them at all times of the year.
Here, I’ve compiled what you need to know before you visit so you can make the most of the most visible group of seals on the California coast.
1. Finding Elusive Free Parking
If you’ve ever been anywhere in California, you know that parking is always a nightmare! What is the key, you ask? PATIENCE.
… and this map where I’ve circled your destination and highlighted the lesser known parking spots. You’re welcome.
2. Snorkel in the Swimming Spots
There are 2 main locations in La Jolla Cove for swimming, scuba diving, or snorkeling; the Children’s Pool Beach and the Cove itself. Children’s Pool is much less crowded, but there is a lot more seaweed to wade through.
My usual swimming spot is in the cove. It is shallow enough to walk into most of the way. You only need to get about 10 feet out into the water before you can look down and see bright orange Garibaldi fish, green sea bass, and if you’re lucky, a seal!
If you need it, rent snorkel gear from one of the shops near La Jolla Shores for about $10/ day.
3. Find the La Jolla Cove Caves
Cave #1: To the left of the cove beach stairs, there is a little cave entrance that usually goes unnoticed. Take off your shoes and clamber over the rocks out onto the other side where you’ll find lots of crabs and shallow pools of water that the smaller seals play in less than five feet away from your toes. If you go late at night, you might even be able to find an octopus.
Cave #2: (video below) From the Cove, walk uphill along Coast Blvd. until you reach The Cave Store. Turn left in front of the store and follow the dirt trail to the stairs. Go towards your right on the rocks and climb your way down (no more stairs) until you reach the smooth rocks below. The tide can get really high over here so be more cautious.
4. Explore the Secluded Spot
During San Deigo’s perpetual summer weather, you might get overwhelmed with the sheer number of people there. If so, try one of these two spots within walking distance much further away from the crowds. La Jolla Beach is sandy and fairly secluded, perfect for lounging and reading.
Directions: keep walking to the other side of Cuvier Park (fair warning, it is a trek from the cove) you’ll make it to the tide pools. It is rockier but has lots of rock alleyways to explore with tons of sea anemones and crabs. The tide is a little stronger at these two spots but still completely manageable if you want to swim.
5. End the Day with Gelato
After tiring yourself out from swimming and lounging in the sun, walk up Girard Avenue to visit Bobboi Natural Gelato. Their staff is incredibly patient and will let you try tons of flavors before deciding. Our favorites are the charcoal vanilla and fresh strawberry. We’re usually pretty sensitive to dairy, but we never feel wonky after having this gelato because of their fresh, natural ingredients.
The real key to visiting La Jolla Cove is expecting that it will be crowded (unless you go on a Tuesday morning, in which case, tell me where you work so I can have mid-week vacations too).
Be flexible with your plans, consider going to the La Jolla Shores if it’s too crowded. Be prepared for multiple activities to give yourself enough to do for the day. Enjoy the sunshine and seals!
If you’re looking for more San Diego activities, check this out!