La Jolla's Beaches and Beyond

La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) means "the jewel" in Spanish and appropriately describes this small, affluent village and its beaches. Some beautiful coastline can be found here, as well as an elegant upscale atmosphere.

Between North County and the Mission and South bays, La Jolla is easily accessible from Downtown San Diego and North County. It’s worth renting a car so you can sample the different beaches along the coast. The town’s trademark million-dollar homes won’t disappoint either—their cliffside locations make them an attractive backdrop to the brilliant views of the sea below. Downtown La Jolla is more commercialized, with high-end stores great for browsing. La Jolla Shores, a mile-long beach, lies in the more residential area to the north. Above all, the beach and cove are La Jolla’s prime charms—the cove’s seals and underwater kelp beds are big draws for kayakers and nature lovers.

The Cliffs at Torrey Pines

The ocean views from the 300-foot-high sandstone cliffs atop Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve are vast and exquisite. To reach the cliffs, hike one of the short trails that leads from the visitor center. Perch along the sandy edge, and let your legs dangle. You may even see dolphins swimming along the shore or surfers riding a break.

Best Beaches

Framed in scenic coves and backed by dramatic cliffs, La Jolla's beaches are legendary. Challenging surf breaks, an underwater marine park, and expansive stretches of sand offer something for everyone. Look out over the sparkling waters to see seals frolicking in the surf, or lie back in the sand and watch hang gliders soar overhead.

Black's Beach. This secluded stretch of sand is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego. Black's Beach was clothing-optional for many years; although nudity is now prohibited by law, many people still shed their suits whenever the authorities are out of sight.

Children's Pool. This shallow bay was once a great place to bring the kids to swim. Nowadays, it's the best place on the coast to view harbor seals. Good thing kids enjoy that almost as much as playing in the waves.

La Jolla Cove. Truly the jewel of La Jolla, "the Cove" is one of the prettiest spots on the west coast.

La Jolla Shores. One of the most popular beaches in San Diego, La Jolla Shores features a wide sandy beach and calm waves perfect for swimming and beginner surf lessons.

Torrey Pines State Beach. This popular beach is located just below the Torrey Pines State Reserve. Bring your picnic here after an invigorating hike in the reserve.

Windansea Beach. Incredible views, secluded spots, and world-class waves make this a favorite beach for couples and surfers.

La Jolla Cove Walk and Shop

If you’re not keen on dipping your toes in the water (or even the sand, for that matter), head over to La Jolla Cove, an ideal spot for strolling and shopping with a view. Park at any of the available metered spaces on Girard Avenue in Downtown La Jolla and browse the Arcade Building, built in the Spanish Mission style. Make your way toward the cove by following the signs, or simply walk toward any patches of ocean you see.

Water Sports

One of the most popular water activities is kayaking along the caves and snorkeling among the kelp beds near the cove at the Underwater Ecological Reserve. Kayak rental shops offer special outings that include moonlight kayaking and the chance to dive among the leopard sharks that roam La Jolla’s waters. Don’t worry: the sharks are harmless.

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