Set in a marine ecological reserve with sea caves, a kelp forest, abundant wildlife, and the beautiful La Jolla coastline, La Jolla Shores is widely regarded as the best ocean kayaking spot in San Diego.
Aside from the general beauty of the area, the outstanding feature is the seven sea caves carved into the 75-million-year-old sandstone cliffs. The neat thing about these caves is that they are set into the water and, excepting Sunny Jim?s Cave, are only accessible from the ocean. While Sunny Jim?s may be reached by walking, The Clam?s Cave, Arch Cave, Sea Surprise, Shopping Cart, Little Sister, and White Lady can only be seen by kayak or boat. You can actually kayak into the caves with the right tide and swell, but it can be dangerous and is not recommended unless you are on a tour with an experienced guide. Now personally, I don?t usually go for the guided tours because you end up in a big group of people who want to chat about God knows what and the pace gets set by some couch potato from Cleveland. But as far as kayaking in the reserve is concerned, a guide isn?t such a bad idea. He or she will allow you to safely explore the sea caves during proper conditions and will also provide a wealth of information about the local animals, ecological reserve, and kelp forest. Speaking of wildlife, some of the animals you may see include sea lions, harbor seals, dolphins, distant whales in the wintertime, and perhaps a brightly-colored garibaldi or two. Whether you?re in a tour or not, expect to spend a few hours on the water as you paddle from La Jolla Shores to the sea caves, La Jolla Cove, out to the kelp forest, and then back.
If you opt to go it alone, the rental shops will transport both you and the kayaks to La Jolla Shores beach and return at a prearranged time. They pretty much all have complimentary lockers available and wetsuits for rent in colder weather. Bring dry clothes, a towel, hat, sunblock, sunglasses, etc. Reserve your single or double kayaks at least 24 hours in advance during the off-season and earlier around the holidays and peak summer season.
When you?re finished in the water, there are plenty of good spots for a picnic at La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove, or Ellen Browning Park and some excellent restaurants in the village within walking distance. If you have the time, you might also enjoy walking south to see the seals sunbathing at Children?s Pool.
David Hail is co-founder of local date ideas website