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IMG_4950 la jolla shores beach bryce apr16 (Custom)

There are 24 different beaches and coastal access points in the San Diego community of La Jolla. With so many beaches and such diversity, it can be hard to figure out the best one to visit. One day you might want to take your family to see the sea lions or tide pools, while on another day you might be seeking waves for surfing or calmer waters for stand-up paddleboarding. La Jolla is a fortunate place to have beaches for just about any beach activity. See our recommendations below.

Best Beaches for Kids and Families

These beaches have lifeguards and safe waves for playing in. La Jolla Shores is great for boogie boarding most of the time (rentals are nearby on Avenida De La Playa). North Beach at Torrey Pines State Beach has a lagoon that kids will find interesting.

Best Sunbathing

Because of the shear amount of sandy real estate, the biggest beaches are typically best for sunworshippers. Torrey Pines State Beach and La Jolla Shores are the best in La Jolla because of the abundant parking and easy beach access.

Best Surfing

Tourmaline Surfing Park and Scripps Pier Beach are tops for surfing. These beaches are on opposite ends of the La Jolla shoreline. Tourmaline often has windsurfers and kite boarders out blowing around too.

Best Kayaking and SUPing

La Jolla Caves is your best destination for exploring on the water. Kayak and SUP rentals and guides are available at La Jolla Shores. Sometimes it can get wild out here and the guides will not take you into the caves, but most of the time this is a fabulous place to paddle.

Best Tide Pools

There are so many tide pools in La Jolla that we made a map of them. The unique rock formations between Whispering Sands Beach and Hospital Beach are our favorite spot. There are also tide pools at La Jolla Cove where scuba divers put in to explore the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. Two lesser known tidepooling beaches are at Linda Way and Camino De La Costa. Check local tide charts ahead of time so you can visit these places at low tide.

Best Hiking

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve has many trails for hiking and most have excellent ocean views. Our favorite is the hike out to Flat Rock Beach because it’s the only trail with shoreline access.

Best Wildlife Watching

Check out the seals and sea lions at Children’s Pool which was originally designed to provide a safe place for kids to play in the saltwater, but eventually filled in with sand and became a popular spot for sunbathing sea mammals. A protective wall wraps around the pool and gives you a great vantage point for watching these funny creatures. La Jolla Cove and South Casa Beach often have animals to photograph as well. Please give them space and don’t touch even if they let you get close enough.

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Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove Beach

Best Birdwatching

Bird Rock is a white rock just offshore in a quiet La Jolla neighborhood. North Beach at Torrey Pines has a large lagoon that is usually covered with lovely birds. The Coast Walk Trail and the sidewalk between La Jolla Cove and the Cave Store usually has colorful birds on the cliff that pose for close-up pics.

Best Nude Beach

Well there is just one designated clothing-optional beach in La Jolla and it’s well-known. Black’s Beach is a bit of work to access from the parking lot high on the bluff, but if you are trying to avoid tan lines, it is worth the effort. Paragliders will be soaring overhead on most days.