Best Beaches in La Jolla Guide 2022

November 2, 2022

With some of the most visited, unique, and unquestionably beautiful views in the country, beaches in La Jolla have dropped a few jaws with their iconic ocean backdrops, mysterious caves, exciting wildlife, and activities galore. La Jolla is an absolute coastal dream and a beach lover’s paradise. It’ll be hard to choose which one to go to first!

Keep reading because we’ve compiled a list of La Jolla’s 10 most impressive, secluded, and family-friendly beaches. We’ve also included essential things to know for your trips like activities, food options, parking, and more. Know before you go so you can enjoy your visit to the fullest.

Our Picks for The Top 10 Beaches in La Jolla 

Black’s Beach

Black’s Beach is one of most infamous beaches La Jolla has, and getting there is not for the faint of heart. This 2-mile stretch of sand is vast and gorgeous, with many guests enjoying the clothing-optional policy. This La Jolla beach is just one mile north of the Torrey Pines Glider port trailhead – so if you dare to go bare, you won’t be alone!

It sits at the base of 300-foot cliffs that are captivatingly dangerous. It’s a good idea to set your towel a safe distance away from the cliffs as there have been severe injuries from falling parts of the bluffs. 

Black’s Beach is by far the most challenging La Jolla beach to get to, no matter how you decide to approach it. Luckily, there are a few different ways: 

  • Via Torrey Pines Glider Port. The trailhead is located on the south end of the glider port, where you’ll see the steep trail of stairs leading down to Black’s Beach. Remember, what you take down must come back up! Only pack the necessities and take your time on the way back up. 
  • Via intersection of Blackgold and La Jolla Farms Road. This paved path might be easier on the knees, but it’s still steep and takes you to the southernmost end of the beach. 
  • Via Ho Chi Minh Trail/Saigon Trail. This route is the most adventurous, unique, and challenging way to get to Black’s. You’ll pass through narrow slot canyons, eroded hillsides, and repel down a steep hillside with the help of a rope. Wear grippy shoes and be hands-free to avoid injury. 
  •  

You can find the trailheads at 9883 La Jolla Farms Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037. 

Whew! Once you’ve safely reached the beach, you’ll enjoy pristine golden and black sands, a secluded atmosphere, prime surf, and hang gliders soaring above you. 

Kids are welcome if they’re up for the trek. You may also decide to stay away from the clothing-optional north stretch of the beach. 

After making the heart-pumping trek back up the bluffs, you can grab a snack at the Cliffhanger Cafe at the glider port, or stop at one of the many other neighboring cafes. 

The surf as Black’s Beach is said to be the best in the county, and surfers willing to get their extra steps in to get to it are rewarded kindly.

Because it’s an excellent spot for surfing, it’s a greater risk to swimmers. Experienced swimmers only.

The only restrooms available are at the top of the glider port trailhead, and there are no public showers.

Lifeguards are on duty year-round from 10 a.m to dusk.

  • At the Torrey Pines Glider Port, parking is free in the dirt lot and is close to the trailhead.
  • At the intersection of Blackgold and La Jolla Farms Road, parking is limited to 2 hours. 
  • At the Saigon Trail trailhead on La Jolla Farms Road, street parking is limited to 2 hours. 

La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shores beach, referred to by locals as just “The Shores,” is by far the most impressive as a true outdoor wonderland of possibilities. Set up your home base for the day on the open sand or the adjacent stretches of grass at Kellogg Park for all-day fun. 

An exciting way to get to know the stunning landscape and ecosystems of the La Jolla coastline is to become a part of it. So, for the bold adventure seekers, kayak out to explore the seven sea caves of La Jolla or scuba dive the underwater park to see flourishing giant kelp forests, rocky reefs, and marine life. There are plenty of rental options just up from the beach. 

Or, you can save the thrills for another day and enjoy laying out to get your summer glow and take it all in. This beach park is also the best for wheelchair accessibility, so everyone is welcome. And as your epic La Jolla beach day closes, warm up and catch the sunset around the bonfire – just be sure you snag a bonfire early! 

Absolutely! Between the calm water, sand, park, and jungle gym, they will love it.

Yes, just walk a few blocks up the beach to enjoy local eats or head into downtown La Jolla for even more options. The Shores is also a great place to picnic or bring your grill to barbeque. 

La Jolla Shores is fantastic for beginner surfers as the waves are mellow. Take a surf lesson if you’re feeling adventurous!

The calm waters at La Jolla Shores Beach make it a great place to swim.

Public restrooms and showers are available. 

Lifeguards are on duty year-round from 9 a.m to dusk.

The Shores has the best available free parking. However, spots still fill up fast, especially during summer and weekends, so it’s always best to arrive early. 

La Jolla Cove Beach

La Jolla Cove is the most recognizable and scenic corner of the La Jolla coastline and has welcomed visitors since 1890. Part of the La Jolla underwater park and the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve, this protected, charming coastal inlet is home to incredible active marine life and is prime for snorkeling and diving. The word “Matlahuayl” came from the Kumeyaay tribes native to the area and meant “place of the caves,” one of two origins where La Jolla gets its name. 

La Jolla Cove Beach is buzzing with life, so there’s always something to see. So, grab a seat on a bench to admire the views and catch the action, or take the short La Jolla Coastal Walk Trail right by The Cave Store. At the Cave Store, you can also get a ticket to take the 145 stairs down a tunnel through the sandstone, where you can experience a sea cave from the inside looking out. 

It’s no wonder visitors flock to this little piece of paradise to swim, explore, and laze around like our sea lion friends. But watch out for those sea lions, as they like to keep unsuspecting visitors on their toes. Check out this viral moment from July 2022 when two sea lions can be seen seemingly chasing visitors up the beach. However, don’t worry too much – experts believe the sea lions were chasing each other, with visitors just getting caught in the middle. Always give wildlife plenty of space to do their thing, and maybe cancel your beach nap plans when lounging in the Cove.

Yes, La Jolla Cove Beach is a great spot for kids. 

La Jolla Cove is located just below the Village at La Jolla, where dining options are plentiful. Check out our restaurant guide if you’re looking for inspiration. 

Waves are typically tame within the protected area of The Cove, and surfboards aren’t allowed within this zone. However, depending on the time of year, the surf can be impressive where it breaks outside this protected zone.

The Cove is an ideal spot for swimming.

Public restrooms and showers are available at the nearby Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

Lifeguards are on duty year-round from 9 a.m to dusk.

Boomer’s Beach

Directly West of La Jolla Cove, you’ll find a fun scramble down the sandstone to get to the remote Boomer’s Beach. Despite being so small, it’s considered to be one of the best beaches in La Jolla because it’s a quiet alternative to the more populated beaches nearby.

You’ll likely see more than a few seals and sea lions in the water and lounging on the beach and up on the rocks of Point La Jolla. Remember always to give them plenty of space.

Yes, Boomer’s Beach is a great spot for kids.

Boomer’s Beach is located just below the Village at La Jolla, where dining options are near endless. Check out our restaurant guide if you’re looking for inspiration. 

You can’t surf off this beach—however, it’s a popular spot for experienced body surfers who can navigate the rough water conditions.

Only experienced swimmers and body surfers should enter these waters as waves can get strong through here.

Public restrooms and showers are available at the nearby Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

There is no lifeguard on duty at this beach.

As a part of the marine reserve, this area is a no-flotation device zone, so no boogie boards or surfboards are allowed.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach sits at the southernmost end of the park. You’ll take the long concrete staircase and navigate around large rocks to get to this little beauty. 

This La Jolla beach is best during low tide so you can make the most of the small space. It’s great for tide pooling, collecting sea shells, and watching the native wildlife! The rocks can be rough and slippery, so bring some sturdy footwear. 

Shell Beach is teeming with life and is a great place to bring your kids or let your inner child come out to explore.

Without question, yes!

Shell Beach is close to the Village at La Jolla, so you’ve got plenty of dining options if you’re up for a short walk. Check out our restaurant guide if you’re looking for inspiration. 

Not good for surfing.

You probably won’t see people swimming off this beach. Due to the number of reefs, the water does tend to be calmer here, but rip currents still pose a danger. 

Public restrooms and showers are available at the nearby park.

There is no lifeguard on duty at this beach.

The Children’s Pool Beach

The Children’s Pool Beach and its famous 300-foot curved concrete wall have been a beloved treasure since it opened in 1931. Ellen Browning Scripps funded this architectural marvel so that children could have a safe place to play and swim away from dangerous undercurrents. 

Visitors can walk to the end of the wall to get closer to wildlife, most notably the hundreds of seals and sea lions who call this place home, and you’ll likely hear and smell them before you even see them. The Children’s Pool Beach closes annually during the pupping season, from Dec. 15 to May 15, to allow the seals to give birth to their pups safely. When you visit, please be respectful of wildlife and keep a safe distance. 

The permanent closure of the Children’s Pool has been under debate for years, with marine conservationists advocating for the area to be a marine mammal sanctuary. For now, the “joint use” policy established in 2004 ensures that both humans and seals can enjoy this beautiful La Jolla beach. However, keep in mind that the large population of seals and sea lions causes an increase in water bacteria levels due to their waste, so you may want to stay out of the water.

Yes! They’ll light up when they see all the seals.

The Children’s Pool is located just below the Village at La Jolla, where you’ll find plenty of dining options. Check out our restaurant guide if you’re looking for inspiration. 

There’s no surf within this protected inlet. 

The calmer water at the Children’s Pool makes it safe for swimming. However, due to the bacteria levels, swimming is not recommended.

Public restrooms and showers are available at the nearby Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

Lifeguards are on duty year-round from 9 a.m to dusk.

South Casa Beach

Just south of Children’s Pool Beach, you’ll find respite from the crowds at the secluded South Casa Beach. This triangle-shaped mini cove is an easy one to cross off your list. It’s another excellent spot to explore the tide pools during low tide or find a corner to relax and enjoy the views. 

You might see a few seals and sea lions wobbling around, but not nearly as many as you’d see at Children’s Pool Beach.

South Casa beach is close to the Village at La Jolla, where you have many food options to choose from. Check out our restaurant guide if you’re looking for inspiration. 

South Casa Beach is not suitable for surfing.

Swimming in these rough waters is not recommended, but it’s a nice place to dip your toes in.

Public restrooms and showers are available at the nearby park.

Lifeguards are on duty year-round from 9 a.m to dusk.

Wipeout Beach

Wipeout Beach provides a wider shore on the other side of South Casa, but only during low tide. Visit during a high tide, and this La Jolla beach virtually disappears. 

The rugged bluffs and several caves add to its unique hidden appeal and character. Walk along the cliffs overlooking the beach for stunning views—a great place to stop and watch the sunset. 

Wipeout Beach is close to the Village at La Jolla, where you’ll have plenty of dining options. 

Wipeout Beach is not suitable for surfing.

Swimming here can be hazardous and is not recommended. 

Public restrooms and showers are available at the nearby park.

Lifeguards are on duty year-round from 9 a.m to dusk.

Marine Street Beach

Marine Street Beach is known for its pristine white sands, spacious simplicity, and thunderous surf. This hidden gem is quieter than its northern beach neighbors and frequented mainly by locals. 

Scuba diving, surfing, tide pooling, and laying out in the sun are popular activities at this secluded LA Jolla beach. As you walk North on Marine Street Beach, you’ll pass through Whispering Sands Beach, where you’ll find a short staircase that will take you up to explore the La Jolla Tide Pools. 

If you bring kids with you, it’s best to keep the activities on the beach or explore the tidepools. 

Local food options are available near Marine Street and La Jolla Blvd. 

Marine Street Beach is known for its powerful surf and is a popular spot for locals. 

Swimming is not recommended, but allowed for experienced swimmers.

No restrooms or public showers are available, so plan accordingly.

Lifeguards are on duty in the summer and on weekends from 9 a.m to dusk. 

Parking is limited to what you can find in surrounding neighborhoods. 

Windansea Beach

This local’s favorite beach might not be the longest, but she sure packs a punch. Windansea beach has so much personality, decorated by its stunning moss-covered rock formations and jutting sandstone. It is also home to the historic architectural icon “The Shack,” a palm-covered surf hut built in 1946 where surfers can rest their boards and enjoy shelter from the sun. 

You’ll feel the secluded local vibe here, so if you’re looking for a good mix of chill while you catch the action in the surf, this is the spot to set up for the day. Come sunset, you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll see the locals coming out to enjoy the show with you. Also a popular spot for family and wedding photographers, it serves as the perfect backdrop to capture all the golden hour goodness.

If you bring the kids, it’s a good idea to keep the activities on the beach. 

Stop by town favorite Valley Farm Market on La Jolla Blvd for sandwiches and snacks, or the nearby Village of La Jolla has fantastic food options.

Windansea remains a popular surfing area for intermediate and advanced wave chasers, as it has strong currents and shore breaks. If you’re surfing here, you might have more company in the water than you’d prefer. Surfline declares this surf spot the “San Diego Zoo without the zoo-keeper.” Surf’s up!

Swimming is not recommended but it is allowed if you’re a strong swimmer. 

No restrooms or public showers are available, so plan accordingly.

Lifeguards are on duty in the summer and on weekends from 9 a.m to dusk. 

There are 16 spaces in a small lot with one accessible (ADA) spot. Get there early to snag your spot in the lot, or find parking in the nearby streets and walk down. 

Windansea Beach

This local’s favorite beach might not be the longest, but she sure packs a punch. Windansea beach has so much personality, decorated by its stunning moss-covered rock formations and jutting sandstone. It is also home to the historic architectural icon “The Shack,” a palm-covered surf hut built in 1946 where surfers can rest their boards and enjoy shelter from the sun. 

You’ll feel the secluded local vibe here, so if you’re looking for a good mix of chill while you catch the action in the surf, this is the spot to set up for the day. Come sunset, you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll see the locals coming out to enjoy the show with you. Also a popular spot for family and wedding photographers, it serves as the perfect backdrop to capture all the golden hour goodness.

For beginner surfers, head to La Jolla Shores where you can enjoy the smaller swells or take a lesson. For intermediate and experienced surfers, make the trek down to Black’s Beach, where they have the best beach break.  There’s powerful surf at Windansea, a spot frequented by the locals who know those waters well. 

La Jolla Cove is the best spot to explore by snorkel as the waters are calmer here. For intermediate snorkelers, you can head to Boomer’s Beach or Shell Beach, where the water can be rougher.

Hands down, La Jolla Shores is the best beach to take the kids as it has so much variety. You’ve got the beach, park, boardwalk, and jungle gym for the kids to enjoy. The water is calmer here and there’s plenty of space to spread out. 

You can’t bring alcohol or glass to the beaches, and you can’t smoke on them. Don’t leave any trash. No disturbing noise. No camping. Otherwise, bring whatever you need to have your best beach day. Make sure to follow any warnings and read signage that may be posted in the area you’re visiting.

No dogs between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Nov. 1 through Mar. 31, or between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Apr. 1 through Oct. 31. Dogs must be leashed, and waste must be packed out.

Tips for Visiting La Jolla Beaches

Best Time to Visit

La Jolla is visited year round because it’s just that beautiful. No matter the time of year, La Jolla wears every season well. However, we don’t blame those who are after those epic days of sunshine and clear skies, which are best in March and April. 

If you visit in May or June, you could experience the gloom of overcast clouds, which cast a different spell over the area.

Summertime has La Jolla in full swing, with San Diegans, locals, and vacationers coming to play and see this jewel in all her glory. Beaches will be buzzing, and the village will be vibrant, so keep that in mind when visiting during this peak time of the year.

Don’t be a stranger in the fall and winter, as La Jolla is just as lovely. However, water temperatures drop significantly, so you may want to skip the water activities.

Parking

Parking can be tricky during the summer and on weekends if you visit the beaches along Coast Boulevard (La Jolla Cove Beach, Boomer’s Beach, Children’s Pool Beach, Shell Beach, South Casa Beach). It’s always best to arrive early, or you may have better luck later in the afternoon. Fortunately, it’s not a far walk down to most beaches if you park in the Village of La Jolla or the surrounding neighborhoods. Be patient and read street parking signs carefully to avoid tickets. 

Activity Rentals and Guided Tours 

Whether you want to kayak, snorkel, scuba dive, or surf, there are plenty of places you can rent gear from to enjoy these exciting activities, and we recommend you do! 

La Jolla Beaches FAQ

For beginner surfers, head to La Jolla Shores where you can enjoy the smaller swells or take a lesson. For intermediate and experienced surfers, make the trek down to Black’s Beach, where they have the best beach break.  There’s powerful surf at Windansea, a spot frequented by the locals who know those waters well. 

La Jolla Cove is the best spot to explore by snorkel as the waters are calmer here. For intermediate snorkelers, you can head to Boomer’s Beach or Shell Beach, where the water can be rougher.

Hands down, La Jolla Shores is the best beach to take the kids as it has so much variety. You’ve got the beach, park, boardwalk, and jungle gym for the kids to enjoy. The water is calmer here and there’s plenty of space to spread out. 

You can’t bring alcohol or glass to the beaches, and you can’t smoke on them. Don’t leave any trash. No disturbing noise. No camping. Otherwise, bring whatever you need to have your best beach day. Make sure to follow any warnings and read signage that may be posted in the area you’re visiting.

No dogs between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Nov. 1 through Mar. 31, or between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Apr. 1 through Oct. 31. Dogs must be leashed, and waste must be packed out.

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