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ULTIMATE La Jolla Beaches Guide [2022] – 8 Best Beaches in La Jolla + Tide Pools

Planning to visit La Jolla or making one of the best neighborhoods in San Diego your home? Either way, you’ll spend a lot of time at La Jolla beaches exploring tide pools, sunbathing, surfing, or just watching the sea lions play and bark. This complete guide covers everything you want to know about La Jolla San Diego beaches including surf reports, safety tips, and where to find tide pools in La Jolla.

Important Tips for Visiting La Jolla Beaches

Before hitting the beach, here are some tips to make sure your day is fun and safe.

  • Check the La Jolla tide chart before you leave. The best time to visit La Jolla tide pools is low tide.
  • Check La Jolla surf reports. Surfline is a great choice for accurate surf reports and weather. Here’s an example of the La Jolla Shores surf report and a La Jolla Shores surf cam (free account required). Here’s another resource for La Jolla surf reports.
  • Read the La Jolla beach dog rules before taking your four-legged friend. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 9 am and 4 pm in the winter. From April 1 to October 31, dogs are not allowed on the beach from 9 am to 6 pm. When allowed, dogs must be on a leash. La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove are one of the top 5 places in San Diego for dog-related citations and a ticket is more than $200!
  • Check the La Jolla water quality before you get in! You can find advisories and closures from the San Diego County Beach & Bay Water Quality Program.
  • Give La Jolla sea lions and seals their distance. Both will bite or maul if they feel threatened (and you don’t want to learn about “seal finger” the hard way!) so make sure small children keep a safe distance. While swimming, surfing, or diving, sea lions may approach. They’re accustomed to people in the water and friendly as long as they come to you, and you do not try to touch them.
  • Leopard sharks are harmless, but San Diego has regular white shark sightings. The world’s largest annual grouping of leopard sharks gathers off the coast of La Jolla from July to September. Leopard sharks are completely harmless to humans and very timid. However, great white shark sightings are rather common. San Diego uses drones and other technology to watch for white shark sightings and issue warnings or close beaches as needed.


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La Jolla Tide Pools – Best Tide Pools in San Diego

Want to see the tide pools in La Jolla? You’ll find them at most beaches if you visit at the right time! The tidepools are one of the best things to do in La Jolla with kids! Here are some of the best places to visit La Jolla tide pools @ low tide.

  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps – Visit the intertidal zone the aquarium built in Tide Pool Plaza. You’ll see marine life representative of La Jolla tide pools and there’s a touch pool. Check their La Jolla tide pools schedule before visiting to see when feedings are happening!
  • False Point – This is a tricky spot for tide pooling because there are many loose rocks. Flipping over the rocks will often reveal marine life. False Point is between Linda Way and Sea Ridge Drive in the Bird Rock neighborhood.
  • Windansea Beach – This is a less crowded spot to see San Diego tide pools during low tide.
  • South Casa Beach – South of Shell Beach toward Children’s Pool (behind the sea wall) is an easy spot for tide pooling with small kids.
  • Shell Beach Tide Pools – Visit during low tide in the winter to spot tiny fish, limpets, hermit crabs, and sea anemones.
  • Hospitals Reef – Located at Hospitals Beach (or just Hospitals), Hospital Point just south of Children’s Pool La Jolla is one of the best destinations for tide pools.
  • Between Hospitals Beach & Whispering Sands Beach (also known as Nicholson Point) – This is one of the most well-known (and photographed!) La Jolla Tide Pools with lots of crabs.
  • La Jolla Cove – The La Jolla Cove tide pools are at the northern tip of the cove and around the point by the rocky area sloping toward the ocean.
  • Dike Rock – This is just north of Scripps Pier with a rocky sea wall and a large rock, both with many small tide pools.

La Jolla Shores Beach – Famous La Jolla Beach with Swimming, Surfing, Kayaking, Scuba Diving & Tide Pools

La Jolla Shores is one of the most visited La Jolla San Diego beaches with something for everyone. Visitors enjoy tons of water sports, a playground for the kids, and nearby shopping and restaurants, plus it has the only beachfront boat launch in the city limits. Here are some of the best La Jolla Shores activities.

La Jolla Shores Surfing

Surfers appreciate the gentle, reliable waves year-round with two- to four-foot South Swells conditions during the summer. It’s one of the top beaches in La Jolla for beginners, too, with surf camps and lessons.

La Jolla Shores Snorkeling & Diving

The San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park is a top attraction for scuba divers and snorkelers. Created in 1970, this 6,000-acre park covers tidelands and ocean bottom with two artificial reefs designed to enhance marine life while keeping waves low and reliable. La Jolla Shores is the perfect entry point to the underwater park with an ocean bottom that gently slopes out then takes a sudden 500-foot plunge into La Jolla Canyon.

The Underwater Park makes La Jolla one of the world’s top destinations for snorkeling and diving with marine life that includes leopard sharks, sea turtles, Garibaldi, dolphins, shovel nose guitar fish, and even whale sightings.

La Jolla Shores diving even gives you the chance to swim through seven sea caves, the largest of which is Clam Cave. During low tide, you can kayak or snorkel through to the other side.

La Jolla Shores Kayaking

Sea kayaking is a popular form of recreation in Southern California, and few places are better than La Jolla Shores Beach. If you’re new to kayaking, try booking a tour or renting a kayak to explore the coastline and tour the La Jolla Sea Caves!

Location, Hours & La Jolla Shores Beach Parking

La Jolla Shores beach parking is off Camino del Oro. The parking lot fills up fast during the summer! La Jolla Shores hours are 4 am to 10 pm when the parking lot gates are closed.

Where is La Jolla Shores? You’ll find the beach right next to La Jolla Shores Park, part of the larger Kellogg Park. The beach runs from the UC San Diego Scripps Institute of Oceanography to the La Jolla Shores Hotel.

Address: La Jolla Shores Park, 8300 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037

Torrey Pines State Beach – Scenic Beach with Famous La Jolla Cliffs

Torrey Pines State Beach is just north of La Jolla and south of Del Mar. Famous for its scenic cliffs, the northern section of the beach is part of the state park while the southern section is managed by the City of San Diego and known as Black’s Beach. The northern stretch has amenities like showers, restrooms, and a safe place for kids to play.

Torrey Pines Beach offers great swimming and surfing, plus you can enjoy hiking in the Torrey Pines State Park above the cliffs! Just note there are no permanent lifeguards below the bluffs. Because the bluffs are unstable, avoid setting up your site close to the cliffs.

La Jolla Cove – Iconic La Jolla Beach Home to La Jolla Cove Sea Lions & Seals

Looking for the La Jolla seal beach? You’ll want to head to the Cove. La Jolla Cove Beach is one of the most famous La Jolla beaches with sea lions and seals plus snorkeling and scuba diving.

Here’s what to do in La Jolla Cove:

  • Scuba diving and snorkeling at the Underwater Park (no kayaking or surfing allowed)
  • Swimming
  • La Jolla Cove tide pools (low tide in winter)
  • Viewing La Jolla Cove seals and sea lions
  • Ellen Browning Scripps Park adjacent to the Cove
  • Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, the only sea cave in California accessible by land, with an entrance inside The Cave Store nearby
  • Clam’s Cave, one of the seven La Jolla sea caves, is the only one you can see from land
  • La Jolla Coast Walk Trail just past the Cave Store which leads along the cliffs to La Jolla Shores
  • La Jolla Cove Beach and Tennis Club, a beachfront resort

La Jolla Cove Parking & Hours

You’ll find La Jolla Cove at 1100 Coast Blvd in the heart of the Village of La Jolla or downtown. La Jolla Cove parking is usually challenging to find, especially during the summer, but you should find available street parking nearby.

Windansea Beach – La Jolla Beach for Surfing and Avoiding Summer Crowds

Windansea Beach is a rocky beach known for surfing and its gorgeous scenery. The steep ocean floor and offshore reefs give Windansea excellent, consistent surf breaks. Waves are between two and ten feet high, but keep in mind that there is a very strong shore break. It’s not the ideal surfing spot for beginners!

Where is Windansea Beach? You’ll find it south of Neptune Place between the La Jolla town center and Pacific Beach. Look for the iconic Surf Shack on the beach!


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Children’s Pool – Great La Jolla Beach for Seeing Sea Lions & Seals

Children’s Pool La Jolla is right next to La Jolla Cove and protected with a breakwater seawall. Designed as a safe place for children to play in the 1930s, swimming is now very strongly discouraged but you can still walk along the seawall for amazing views of Seal Rock.

Children’s Pool is a great place for seeing the La Jolla seals and sea lions who have taken over the area. Between December 15 and May 15, the area is closed for pupping season.

Black’s Beach – Unofficial San Diego Nude Beach

Located beneath the La Jolla cliffs, Black’s Beach is a famous nude beach in San Diego. From La Jolla Shores (low tide), it’s a 3-mile walk to Black’s Beach San Diego and it can be accessed from Torrey Pines State Beach. The best way to reach the beach is the Torrey Pines Gliderport Trail. Note that the Torrey Pines cliffs are unstable and the city has a “Do Not Use” sign posted on the trail, but it is used by local nudists.

Black’s Beach is one of America’s largest nude beaches, although the City of San Diego officially banned nudity in 1977. The unofficial clothing-optional section is south of the trail access point.

Be sure you check the Black’s Beach San Diego rules before you visit and be aware there are no amenities here.


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Tourmaline Surfing Park Beach – One of the Best Beaches in La Jolla for Surfing

This small beach is at the northern section of Pacific Beach, right at the edge of Pacific Beach and La Jolla. This surfers’ mecca is easy to find and offers great year-round breaks for beginners to intermediate surfers. It’s also popular for sunset picnics, sunbathing, and watching the surfers. Parking is free with a large parking lot right in front of the shore.

Shell Beach – Small, Picturesque La Jolla Beach for Seashell Hunting and Tide Pools

Shell Beach is one of the smaller and lesser-known La Jolla beaches, but definitely worth a visit! Located at the southern portion of Ellen Browning Scripps Park, it’s between the Children’s Pool and La Jolla Cove.

Note that the beach is littered with large boulders you must climb over at the base of the stairway entrance. It isn’t the best beach for small children! Older kids will enjoy hunting for shells that wash up from the reefs just offshore. The best time to visit for tide pools is at low tide during the day in winter or sometimes during summer nights.

Map of La Jolla Beaches

It’s easy to see why the beaches in La Jolla are considered the best San Diego has to offer! Are you just visiting La Jolla or thinking about moving to the area? If you’re planning to make the Jewel by the Sea your home, Republic Moving & Storage can help with a worry-free moving experience!


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