La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove
4.5
About
At this beach surronded by sandstone cliffs on the San Diego coast, the water is calm enough for travelers to enjoy diving and snorkeling. Walk along the rocky shore to spot large colonies of sea lions lounging in their natural habitat and looking after their pups, and have a picnic while soaking up the views of the ocean from the cliffs at sunset. If you visit at low tide, you’ll get to swim in the crystal clear tidal pools as well. You can also visit Sunny Jim's Sea Cave which is accessible via a tunnel. Visit early in the morning to find a parking space more easily. – Tripadvisor
Duration: More than 3 hours
Meets animal welfare guidelines
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  • cm
    Canberra, Australia81 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lovely spot
    We had a wonderful time observing the seals and sea lions and all of their antics. The bird life and squirrels were also a highlight for us. Parking was tricky, but we got lucky both times we visited. It would be good if people would not get too close to the animals on the beach despite the rangers asking them not to get too close multiple times.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 6, 2023
  • craig1086
    Atlanta, Georgia1,797 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Nice Area. Pray for Clear Skies For A Beautiful Sunset
    It was nice to visit here. It can be a great place to catch a sunset in San Diego. You can also have a picnic on the greenspace, or go hang out on the beach. The water was freezing when we went. On a certain section of the beach part of the cove, you'll see the seals sunbathing. You can't miss them. Honestly, the day we went(around July 4th) it was a constant fog in the air, so it was overcast all day. In the later afternoon time, parking will be harder to find. They have benches along the walk facing the sea and the sunset. Back up on the street level, there are shops and restaurants you can dine at. It's a visit you make if you're in the San Diego area, but it won't take up a whole day. Start at the Cave Store and work your way all the way down to the tide pools. I'd say visit, but let the weather determine if you swim or snorkel here. Especially with the water being so cold.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 10, 2023
  • LarsieB
    1,779 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing Scenery and Wildlife
    We loved this beautiful area of San Diego - La Jolla Cove is stunning. It's so wonderful to walk along and see the wonderful coastline, bird life, sea lions and seals. There are lots of restaurants and coffee shops in this area too - lots of eating and drinking options. Parking can be a little tricky because it gets busy. We ended up paying $20 for underground parking as we had no chance parking in the open spaces near the cove but it was also good to have the car undercover and out of the heat. I loved this area and would recommend taking sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, some water because you are exposed to the summertime elements. We really enjoyed watching and hearing the seals and sea lions in particular interact with each other. The sea lions are massive and bossy, and funny to watch!
    Visited June 2023
    Written July 16, 2023
  • jasmineflowers
    Minnesota574 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A San Diego Must
    An absolute must! What a beautiful and fun area. The seals are free to witness and the views of the ocean at sunset are priceless. Parking is difficult, so plan ahead. But an absolute must for a San Diego trip.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled on business
    Written July 30, 2023
  • Lori C
    5 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great opportunity to see the seals and sea lions up close!
    Our family went to La Jolla cove on a Sunday afternoon. It was crowded, so we had to park and walk a bit, but it was a great opportunity to see the seals and sea lions up close! All the people didn’t detract from the experience, and we got lots of pictures without the crowd in them. If your family wants an efficient way to see the seals and sea lions up close, this is great! We had the full experience in 30 minutes (or less).
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 2, 2023
  • Trevor P
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    a must do
    Even if you don't have children with you, still a place to see on every visit here. Beautiful views, places to picnic and sea life viewing non-stop. Don't try parking within 2 blocks of the shore line, you will just spend 20 minutes going 5 blocks. park in the village and then walk down.
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 15, 2023
  • 4Cents
    New York509 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Too pretty to miss
    We visited La Jolla the very first day we landed in SD. The rental car came in handy because we were staying at the Marriott in the marina area. The plan was to quickly see and leave. Well my 20 year old never wanted to leave and we ended up spending the whole day beach hopping! The water was so clear and bright blue. The small tiny beach enclaves made it so perfect for my kids to enjoy without much crowd! We loved it so much that we came back the second day to spend another whole day. My only disappointment was we couldn’t watch any sea lions or seals on both days. But there were many pelicans which were equally impressive. We stopped at the Taco shop and had amazing tacos. The parallel road that run high above the coastal road ( forgot its name) has a lot of restaurants with good view. But since my kids wanted to be in the water, we just ate at the taco shop.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written September 5, 2023
  • Bill E
    Manorville, New York170 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Don't play with the Seals
    Walking along beach was terrific...lots of seals to see. Parking was VERY DIFFICULT. You can spend time hunting for a spot or park for a fee in a garage. Bubba's Smokehouse had great BBQ
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 24, 2023
  • osnoopy13
    Lilburn, Georgia427 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful Spot on the Water
    My wife and I visited the cove twice during our trip to San Diego. Once during a tour then we came back to visit little longer to see more of the sea lions and seals. Great place to visit and just relax. Took a few good pictures and easy to park free on the street. Highly recommend you see it when you’re in the area.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 26, 2023
  • Jackie W
    Lake Ozark, Missouri533 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great place to visit
    We enjoyed this area so much. I was very surprised how many birds, seals and sea lions there were. It's a large area where you can walk along and enjoy the animals. There are even areas where you can get very close. I thought it was fascinating. We spent several hours just enjoying. There are benches along the way if you want to just sit and take in the sights and sounds. I would highly recommend visiting if you're in the area.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 29, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles13,770 reviews
Excellent
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658
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Fietsen1
Encinitas, CA548 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Couples
We came here on a weekday afternoon thinking it would not be too bad. It was like the Hunger Games when it came to finding a place to park. This place was completely over run with, in my opinion, rude tourists. I say rude because there were sea lions/seals sunning on the rocks. There were signs everywhere saying that you need to keep a great distance between yourself and the seals. People, being the jerks they are, ignored this and got very close to the animals. I felt extremely sorry for these beautiful creatures. I know people are desperate to get attention on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but give me a break. I was truly disgusted by people's behaviour. I will say, that although the seals were beautiful, it smelled extremely bad. Go to La Jolla Shores where there are far less people and more Beach to walk around.
Written March 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Joanna B
3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2020 • Couples
I suppose I may be biased but I love La Jola cove and the entire coast line. My husband and I got married on the cliffs just up the road from the cove (Cuvier Wedding Bowl).
Since it is a state park our ceremony site was less than $200 for the permit. We were allowed 50 guests and had chairs rented/delivered. It was a beautiful ceremony and the photos were to die for. Parking was a nightmare but we had a giant party bus take people from the reception site to the cliff and then back and it was well worth it.
Written October 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

janice45
Boston, MA133 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
We began a day trip from San Diego with a drive up the interstate to Torrey Pines Golf Club. Having seen many televised tournaments , I was interested in seeing the facility first hand. The operation was impressive. The views from many of the holes were spectacular. After taking a few pictures, we then headed down the coast to La Jolla. What beautiful scenic drive! There are areas to park your car and just walk the coastline. We had a picnic lunch on a park bench and people watched. A little further on our walk we came to a place called "Children's Beach". It as a sheltered cove with a breakwater. However, there were no children to be found. From December to May this is the exclusive beach for the seals. On this day, there weer at least 25 mother seals teaching their one to two week old pups how to swim, follow directions, keep close to mom and how to negotiate their way back up on the sandy beach to rest. It was fascinating to watch. On the rocks on the backside of the cove were all of the dads laying in the sun enjoying life while the moms did all the work. We spent a better part of an hour here before we moved on to various other stops along the coast and back to San Diego. A very nice day.
Written March 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patricia - SavvyExploring
Snohomish, WA753 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022
Fun cove full of sea lion activity! They were surfing, jumping, and coming right up on the rocks by the shore.

We booked a snorkeling tour, which didn't go so well due to conditions. You can just rent the gear and go but I would recommend you get a guide unless you are an experienced ocean swimmer and even then it is good to know the currents where you are going, especially in the cave areas. When you swim out you have a fairly narrow channel with dangerous rocky areas on both sides. The waves were very strong when we were out there. A couple of us tried but got beat up by the waves (first time swimming in high surf) too much and didn't make it. Our guide took two people out and one started swimming the wrong way, straight into the rocks, and had to be rescued. The lifeguards called it and that was the end of the adventure, probably for the best.
Written May 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jerRsaus
Rockville, MD27 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021 • Family
La Jolla is a really family-friendly town with excellent opportunities to see sea lions, seals, pelicans, and cormorants. The parking can be difficult to find, but is typically free. The coastal sidewalk is typically crowded, but it offers great views of the sea and wildlife. We snorkeled in the cove and had the exciting experience of seeing sea lions and cormorants swimming with us. I would highly recommend renting a wet suit and equipment (about $30 for 2 hrs) and enjoying the wildlife interaction.
Written July 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pamela N
54 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2021 • Solo
This was my first stop in La Jolla. There are 145 steps down through the rock to the natural cave below. The cave view isn’t worth the climb back up, although kids may enjoy it more. The cave is small and you can only stand on a small platform above the cave floor. The number of visitors allowed in the cave at one time is limited due to COVID.
Written February 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

John S
Saint Clair, MI615 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023 • Family
Very fun watching the sea lions and seals. You can go out near them on the beach and rocks at one cove (it's illegal to get close enough to disturb them, but you can walk out on the rocks and get a good look). The beach with the breakwater around it is closed off to people completely until mid may for puppy season, but you can still watch them from the walkways overhead.

I think the city has struck a nice balance with allowing people to get close, but also not allowing people to disturb them.

There's limited free parking, depending on the spot, it can be limited to 2 or 3 hours and it's enforced by a foot patrol that chalks tires. No problem finding a spot at 9:30am Wednesday, but spots were full by 11am.
Written April 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael K
Fort Lee, NJ65 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
This place is beautiful! I cannot express fully how beautiful, wonderful, awesome, and humbling it is to see this place in person. I knew it was going to be quite impressive from the pictures, but it is another level up close and in person!

You can see the seals up close, but not too close. Although it is recommended that you do not approach them too close, people just go right in their faces and take pictures and such, which I thought was a little too much, but I guess it cannot be helped. The pungent smell of the seals all through the air was a little strong at first, but you get used to it. They are laying on rocks in several different areas, so you are bound to find some as you walk along the shoreline.

The cliffs offer amazing views of the beautiful, light blue Pacific Ocean and the colors are just so gorgeous! The sights and sounds of the powerful waves hitting the little hidden beaches, rocks, and cliffs offer a sense of peacefulness not found in many other places. There are rock formations that you can walk on to get very close to the ocean's edge and even some small beaches where you can go swimming or dip your feet if you like.

If you do nothing else here, I recommend that you come and watch the sunset! The panoramic views of the ocean and cliffs in the background with the sun dropping and slowly disappearing while leaving different splashes of orange, red, pink, blue, and purple across the sky is breathtaking! Definitely an instagram moment... Wish I could go back!
Written February 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

2808 Heavy
32 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
My wife and I visited the Cove and it's....okay. If one has some free time then a visit may be worth it. However, with everything that San Diego/La Jolla has to offer, I wouldn't prioritize this location.

Parking is very limited, not a lot of space to spread out. It was very crowded on the Friday afternoon when my wife and I were there (10/15/21).

It's not the cleanest of places but it's not terrible either. As you get a little closer to the sealions you'll need to be aware that there is a very strong smell that could be offensive to those with a sensitive nose.

While I wouldn't go out of my way to stop by the Cove as there's just so much other things to do...that's better in my opinion, I would say that if one truly does has free time then it may be worth a visit.

If you do decide to visit, go early as parking is extremely hard to find in the afternoon.
Written October 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Howard B
Oceanside, CA94 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2019
We live in the area so we come down here a few times a year. You can walk a couple or more miles in a crescent arc along the rocky shore. There are sea lions and seals to see as well as snorkelers and divers in the water (this is COLD water though). Up the hill and you are in downtown La Jolla Village, which is a mix of quaint and trendy, with some very nice architecture and numerous very good retaurants, bars and art galleries. If you are visitig the San Diego County area or even as far away as LA, you should not miss this!!
Written January 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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