California is a very diverse state that offers many different experiences and places year-round. From breath-taking landscape to glorious skyscrapers and some of the most beautiful beaches you can experience. The coastline is home to many species of marine life that make for a majestical underwater experience. However, some locations stand out as the clearest water beaches among the rest.
If you want to find out which Beach in California has the clearest water, then we have the answer. La Jolla Cove Beach is the most famous Beach in California and has become a global scuba diving and snorkeling attraction because of its crystal-clear waters.
Join me on this adventure and discover what the La Jolla Cove and the surrounding beaches offer.
La Jolla Cove Beach
La Jolla Cove is a prominent location on the La Jolla coastline in California, and the locals commonly refer to it as the “Village of La Jolla.”. The Cove is part of the San Diago-La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park that protects the environment and wildlife in the area. White buoys mark the protected area.
The Cove is arguably the most recommended attraction for scuba divers and kayakers and features the La Jolla Caves. Scuba divers can enjoy these famous cave entrances from the ocean while exploring the vast marine life in the reserve below. In addition, you can access the sea caves entrances with a kayak accompanied by a local guide.
La Jolla Cove Water Conditions
The La Jolla Cove is rated one of The 12 Best Snorkeling Spots In America because of its blue, crystal-clear water, calm ocean surface, and vast marine life. In addition, the Cove has ideal ocean temperatures of around 63°F, though it tends to be slightly lower than the surrounding areas. Visibility in the water often exceeds 30 ft underwater, making it pleasant for swimming and a global scuba diving attraction.
La Jolla Underwater Park
The San Diago-La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park cover all of La Jolla Cove until midway through La Jolla Shores and everything in between. The protected area includes the well-known Seven Sea Caves, locally known as the “La Jolla Caves.” The park features four diverse habitats, rocky reef, sand flats, kelp bed, and the submarine canyon. In addition, it is home to two artificial reefs that enhance marine life.
The reef helps reduce the waves in the area, increasing the water clarity and making it an excellent sight-seeing location. Beyond the reef, the ocean gently slopes out to the sea, and you can find the kelp beds at the edge of the slope. Then the bottom takes a steep 500ft plunge into the La Jolla Canyon. The deep water, combined with the abundance of food, brings whales close to shore during migrating season.
The La Jolla Underwater Park is home to a wide variety of marine life, including harbor seals, market squids, leopard sharks, California sea lions, sardines, sea stars, horn sharks, sea turtles, California moray eels, sting rays, and many more. Even a hammerhead shark was spotted in the park a few years ago. You can enjoy the Underwater Park and the majestic wildlife from the surrounding beaches, cliffs, and viewpoints on trails.
The San Diago-La Jolla Ecological Reserve And Underwater Park are protected by law. Fishing and removing objects from the area are prohibited, along with using surfboards, boogie boards, inflatable tubes, and rafts. Snorkeling, swimming, and diving are not only perfectly legal but also highly recommended in reserve.
La Jolla Cove Kayak & Snorkel Tour allows you to experience the Ecological Reserve and its wildlife with an experienced guide. The guide will take you to the best snorkeling spot of the day, secure your kayak, lead you snorkeling through the La Jolla Ecological Reserve and show you the marine life on the way. The tours are available throughout the day, all week long. Everyone above the age of 5 can enjoy these tours.
La Jolla Caves
La Jolla Cove Sea Cave Kayak Tourallows you to explore La Jolla Cove and the caves it has to offer with a guide that accompanies you to ensure your safety and that you have a fun experience. The tours are available throughout the day, all week long. Everyone above the age of 5 can enjoy these tours.
Sunny Jims’s Cave is the most notorious of the La Jolla Caves and is the only one with both land and sea access. Gustav Schultz owned the cave and land above it, and he began work on the tunnel in 1902. It took two men two whole years to dig out the tunnel, using only a shovel and pick. The tunnel to the cave connects to the Cave Store, which sells jewelry, souvenir gifts, and beach attire. The artificial tunnel was completed in 1903 and used during prohibition to funnel whiskey into San Diego.
Clam Cave is the westernmost cave of the La Jolla Caves and has sea access areas and is the only one that has an opening visible from the shore. Therefore, the Clam Cave is the most efficient and fun cave to explore.
Arches Cave is the 2nd Deepest Cave on the California Coastline, about 680 ft deep, and the 2nd Largest of the La Jolla Caves. The Arches Cave consists of 2 separate caves that have melted together over time, leaving only the arch remaining. The cave has many corridors and narrow passages, but the area is considered hazardous due to erosion, and you should only view it from the ocean.
White Lady Cave is the most inaccessible of the La Jolla Caves and the easternmost cave. The continuous bombardment of the crashing waves creates a white mist that engulfs the cave. Legend has it that the White Lady Cave got its name from a tragic event in the 1800s when a newlywed couple was on the shores for their honeymoon.
The woman searched for seashells near the cave along the beach when the tide suddenly kicked up. Before her husband could reach her, the waves pulled her under and swept her away. Some say she still wonders near the cave, looking for the seashells she never found.
Sea Surprise Cave, located next to the White Lady Cave, looks very small from the outside. But those who have ventured into the cave claim that it expands into over 80 ft of passages. The cave has orange walls due to rock deposits, and you can find a water pool deep within the cave. In the water pool, you can find sea anemones coated with calcite.
Little Sister Cave is the smallest of the La Jolla Caves and can be very hard to spot. The best way to spot the opening is from the water.
Shopping Cart Cave is a well-known location for Spiny Lobsters and was a hotspot for lobster traps used by local restaurants. The cave is an excellent place to find lost treasures due to the local underwater currents. In addition, it is the only cave of the La Jolla Caves that indeed faces west.
What To Know Before Going In The Water
La Jolla is home to a vast wildlife population, and swimming with them can be a magical experience. However, some of these animals can be dangerous, in rare cases, even fatal.
- Bat Rays are not naturally aggressive, but the wrong encounter with them can be fatal. They are primarily active at night and spend their days resting on the ocean floor, covered in sand to protect them from predators. The Bat Ray has three spines at the base of its tail used for defense. The spines are highly venomous, causing excruciating pain and requiring immediate medical attention.
- Hammerhead sharks have been spotted near the shores of La Jolla, although it is rare. In 2015, a hammerhead shark was spotted off the coast of La Jolla by a group of fishermen. Although many people believe seeing a hammerhead shark is a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Sea lions are naturally friendly animals but have occasionally gotten agitated around divers. As a result, seals have sometimes rammed into divers, snapping their teeth when it gets aggravated. The bite of a sea lion can be very toxic and, in some cases, fatal—regulations enforced by the department of fishery warm against any contact with marine mammals.
- The water quality of the beaches tends to decrease with bad weather conditions. For example, in 2020, La Jolla’s famous cove beach was temporarily shut down after failing the annual water quality report due to bad weather conditions. This report was shocking as the beach usually exceeds all expectations and is known for its excellent water conditions.
La Jolla Cove Amenities
The beach has lifeguards on duty year-round from 9 am to sunset to ensure your whole family’s safety while visiting the La Jolla Cove. In addition, it has outdoor showers, public restrooms, and rest areas with thatch roofs and park benches for your convenience. Finally, it offers a bus stop, easy access to public transport, and secure parking to ensure convenient travel to and from the area.
La Jolla Coastline
The La Jolla Coastline features many prominent beaches that locals highly recommend, and each location has unique characteristics, wildlife, and amenities. In addition, the coastline offers a wide variety of activities for your whole family to enjoy, accommodation to enhance your visit, and entertainment to experience.
La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla Shores Beach is a 1-mile-long beach on the La Jolla coastline and is an excellent location for surfing, kayaking, and families with kids. In addition, the beach features perfect picnic spots with grassy areas, firepits, large playground areas for the kids, bathrooms, showers, volleyball courts for you to enjoy, and a permanent lifeguard station to ensure that all visitors are kept safe in and around the water.
The beach has a public parking lot and is within walking distance of local shops and restaurants. The La Jolla Shores Beach is the only kayak launch site in La Jolla. The flat sandy shore makes for easy takeoff, and most use it as a launch for watersports and various La Jolla kayak tours. In addition, the beach is a go-to location for local and visiting surfers and surf lessons for people interested in learning how to surf.
You can rent kayaks, surfboards, wetsuits, and scuba gear from local stores near the shore. In addition, some shops offer lessons and guided tours through various La Jolla locations. In the summer, La Jolla Shores Beach features the largest aggregation of leopard sharks worldwide and a large variety of stingray populations.
Walk The Trails Through Shell Beach
The only way to access Shell Beach is by a flight of concrete stairs that lead down to the small beach. The rocky flat parts of the beach produce many tide pools during low tides that are home to various local marine life. Parking at the Beach is limited, but you can park in a few designated parking spots. In addition, Shell beach features a pathway going through the park to the Coast Walk trail that continues to other beaches.
Relax At Children’s Pool Beach
The Children’s Pool Beach is a small cove protected by a concrete breakwater seawall and is a safe place for children to play and explore out of harm’s way. The paved walkway on top of the seawall is open to the public and is a unique sight-seeing location of the surrounding seascape and Seal Rock. However, swimming in the area is highly discouraged due to high levels of bacteria in the water. The beach doesn’t have designated parking.
Swim At Marine Street Beach
Marine Street Beach is one of the largest and most well-known beaches on the La Jolla coastline. The area has a wide, white sand beach between two rock reef points. The ocean in this area tends to be rough and unpredictable, making it popular among surfers, bodyboarders, and swimmers. However, the site has had many injuries and rescues due to the nature of the ocean.
The beach features a volleyball net that your family can enjoy and two oversized beach chairs at the bottom of the stairs that you can use for a photo shoot. Marine Street Beach is a popular site among many famous ocean photographers.
Relive History At Windansea Beach
Windansea Beach, located in the heart of La Jolla, is well-known as a surfing attraction. The beach gets its name from the oceanfront Windansea Hotel, constructed in 1909 but tragically burned down in 1943. The Windansea Beach features a palm-covered shack initially built in 1943 and repaired by locals after being destroyed in 2015. And it now serves as a proud and official historical landmark of Windansea Beach.
Surf The Tides At Black Beach
Black Beach is part of the Torrey Pines State Beach and is notorious for being the only nude beach in San Diego. However, the southern portion of the beach is a favorite site amongst local surfers as it features some of the most significant and wild surf breaks in Southern California. The ocean in these parts can be dangerous and have permanent lifeguards stationed there. Black Beach can be difficult to get to, only having four access routes.
Discover Boomer Beach
Boomer Beach is one of the smaller and lesser-known beaches on the La Jolla coastline. However, the beach is top-rated among body surfers due to the extreme ocean condition. The beach can be a great escape from crowded areas and a great site to relax in the sun. Unfortunately, boomer beach doesn’t have stair access to the beach, and you have to access it from the sandstone bluffs. In addition, parking is usually problematic.
Sight-see At South Casa Beach
South Casa Beach, located south of the Children’s Pool Beach Lifeguard Station, also serves the area and features excellent tide pools and a superb sunbathing location. However, it would be best if you did not swim in the area, as the proximity to the seawall and sharp rocks create a dangerous environment. Surrounding residential areas provide ample parking for this site.
Experience The Power Of The Ocean At Wipeout Beach
Wipeout Beach features well-known walking trails with more sand, shallow tide pools, and small caves along the shoreline for you to experience. Up the stairs from the beach are public restrooms, showers, a lifeguard station, and benches in the area. Unfortunately, the water features strong riptides that threaten swimmers, and only highly experienced swimmers should go into the water at this site.
Factors That Influence Water Clarity
Rainfall and seasonal storms in the local areas can cause large amounts of sediments to flow into the ocean from eroding creeks and river beds, causing reduced water clarity. In addition, the rainfall and seasonal storms can wash chemicals and minerals into the sea from nearby areas, causing the surface to be murky and have reduced visibility. The temperature of the water influences the water chemistry that contributes to water clarity.
Higher temperatures mean that chemical reactions in the water generally increase. These chemical reactions help dissolve chemicals produced in the ocean and chemicals washed in from nearby areas. In addition, the increased chemical reactions caused by higher water temperatures make the ocean water clearer. The increased temperature of the water decreases algae’s growth, improving water clarity.
The depth of the ocean plays a huge role in the overall clarity. Deeper ocean beds mean that it is more unlikely for tides and currents to stir-up sediment and debris from the bottom. In addition, rocky ocean floors and reefs tend to have increased clarity because the sediment, debris, and estuaries are left undisturbed on the ocean floor.
Activities On The La Jolla Coastline
- The La Jolla Rough Water Swim is a historical event in 1916. It features a one-mile and three-mile open water swim starting and finishing in La Jolla Cove. Some locals trains year-round for this event that dates back more than 100 years.
- La Jolla Golf Carts rentals provide an eco-friendly and convenient way to experience the sites that the La Jolla coastline offers. In addition, they offer tours, scenic drives, valet, and shuttle services.
- Ooh, La La Dance Academy is the most vibrant and dynamic dance and performing arts school La Jolle offers. The Dance Academy caters to kids, teens, and adults. The Ooh La La Dance Academy features unbelievable dance events that include Ballet, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, and many more for your whole family to enjoy.
- Quicksand Escape Game features live escape games with various themes to select. The escape rooms offer a great experience with ingenious puzzles, exciting games, and only 60 minutes to complete it all and escape the room.
- La Jolla Playhouse is a well-known theatre in La Jolla that hosts one-of-a-kind live performances that include shows like Lempicka, and Here There Are Blueberries, Sovereignty Hymns, and many more that will give your whole family the experience of a lifetime.
- The Comedy Store is the favorite comedy room amongst many of La Jolla’s locals and features great shows from comedy legends every weekend that will surely put you in a laughing mood.
Accommodations On The La Jolla Coastline
La Jolla offers many Hotels, Motels, and Lodges that you can stay at during your trip, including:
- La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites offers beachfront accommodation, with ocean-view rooms, secure car parking, a rooftop terrace, air conditioning, and a pool.
- La Jolla Shores Hotel has been the year-round beachfront favorite for visitors and tourists. It includes electric vehicle charging stations, a gym and fitness center, private balconies with an ocean view, a pool, and so much more.
- La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a treasure along the La Jolla coastline with free parking, a pool, a gym, a fitness center, a bar, a lounge, a children’s playground, and a golf course.
La Jolla History
- La Jolla Cove is home to two original cottages, “Red Roost” and “Red Rest,” built-in 1894 and has been vacant since 1980. There have been many discussions on whether to restore them or not due to their historical significance.
- Gerald Lehrer, the witness of a shark attack in 1959, said that he and his friend Robert Pamperin were diving when he heard cries for help coming from behind him. When he turned around, he witnessed a shark viciously attacking his friend. Unfortunately, authorities have not been able to recover his friend’s remains. This traumatic experience is one of the scariest events in La Jolla’s history.
- Archaeologists have uncovered numerous artifacts along the shoreline dating back nearly 10 000 years. The stone utensils and Indian metates indicate that Native Americans settled along the coastline many years before the current inhabitants.
The La Jolla coastline offers many well-known beaches with unique experiences and history. However, the La Jolla Cove stands out from the rest for its crystal clear waters and the diverse collection of marine life that call it home.