There’s so much to love about the Sunny Jim Sea Cave and its onsite Cave Store, which you’ll find in La Jolla tucked away on Coast Boulevard. For starters, it was named by Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz. He named the cave “Sunny Jim” because the shape of its opening resembled a cartoon mascot for British Force Wheat Cereal in the 1920s.
Though you can enter any of the other seven ocean-carved caves from the ocean, the Sunny Jim cave is the only one you can access by land on the California coastline. This quirky cave is certainly one-of-a-kind, and it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the La Jolla area. If the sea cave itself doesn’t captivate you, the onsite store will surely pique your interest.’
Primarily a jewelry shop, The Cave Store has become a local historical landmark. It all started in 1902 when Gustaf Schultz, a German painter and mining engineer, spent a year having a tunnel constructed so he could charge people a few cents to be lowered into the cave via a long rope. When Gustaf died in 1912, his wife soon arrived to take over the business, much to the surprise of the locals who didn’t know he was married.
The shop grew and eventually was rumored to turn into a speakeasy during prohibition, with the tunnel being used to smuggle alcohol in from San Diego. Today it is home to Lulumars Jewelry boutique, an original line of jewelry that includes local designs as well as imports from Bali. The store also has a great collection of vintage clothing and unique gifts.
Gustaf’s long rope has since been replaced with a lengthy staircase—145 stairs, to be exact. But the narrow tunnel and cave walls are incredibly beautiful and colorful, so it’s a pretty pleasant journey. It costs $5 to view the cave, a fee that is well worth it.