La Jolla Shores is a mile-long crescent shaped beach of soft sand and gentle waves. Known to locals as The Shores, the beach starts at the cliffs north of La Jolla Cove and ends at the south end of Black’s Beach. The Shores begins a continuous stretch of beach all along the San Diego County coastline that ends at Oceanside Harbor. The active center of La Jolla Shores Beach is anchored on one end by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier and on the other end by the La Jolla Shores Hotel.
The interesting thing about La Jolla Shores is that it has two underwater submarine canyons – Scripps Canyon and La Jolla Canyon. La Jolla Canyon has the greatest effect on beach life here. The canyon head is on the south end of the beach where the waves are almost always smaller. Two foot breaks are common making this a great place for the novice surfer to practice basic skills. A half-mile up the beach where the waves converge, it can result in swells of up to ten feet and is more suitable for experienced surfers.
The underwater canyon phenomenon makes the calmer southern end of La Jolla Shores the best choice for swimming with small children, launching kayaks, and entering the water for scuba-diving. Another effect of the underwater canyons is rip currents, so don’t get too lulled by the gentle waves. Rips will primarily be in the central area of the beach between the lowest waves on the south and the biggest waves on the north. The ocean floor tapers to about 80 feet deep before plunging into the canyon to a depth of 2,000 feet. Artifacts up to 4,200 years old have been recovered by archeological divers from the canyon, but it is illegal for any other divers to remove anything from the area.
Cozy La Jolla Shores is a favorite family beach destination, not only for its calm waters, but for its overall beauty. It is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the United States. The long sidewalk that runs along the length of the beach is lined with towering palm trees, the symbol of paradise. Behind the trees, on either side of the parking lot is Kellogg Park. The expansive grassy areas with picnic tables provide plenty of room for fun summertime activities. Don’t be surprised to see slackliners balancing on a line strung between two palm trees, maybe even trying a yoga pose or two! There is also a children’s playground at this lovely beachfront park.
Near to the Beach
Though the neighborhood is small, it packs a punch with eclectic offerings. The primary retail area of La Jolla Shores is located along Avenida de la Playa; go one block south of La Jolla Shores Beach and turn left. Ocean Girl is a one-of-a-kind surf and beach shop for women and girls. Rusty Board is the place to learn virtually anything there is to know about surfing and browse a great collection of boards. For quick and easy surfboard rentals La Jolla Surf Systems is the place. Bike and Kayak Tours, Inc. is your best bet for every kind of land and water adventure tours in La Jolla. Shore Thing Café is a cute, beachy café dedicated to healthy eating. Their breakfast and lunch menus are chock full of healthy and tasty choices, and they have a terrific children’s menu. La Playa Gallery features well-known local artists with paintings, photography, jewelry, and framing in a range of prices.
The Birch Aquarium is probably the biggest tourist draw to La Jolla Shores beyond the beach, and a top San Diego attraction. You’ll find a 70,000 gallon, two-story kelp forest exhibit, 60 tanks of colorful marine life and coral reefs, and breathtaking views from Tide-Pool Plaza. The aquarium is just up the hill from the beach. The logical place to book your stay at La Jolla Shores is the La Jolla Shores Hotel located at the south end of La Jolla Shores Beach. Even if you aren’t staying, stop in for Happy Hour at The Shores. For fine dining, there is nothing like the La Jolla Shores Marine Room, the La Jolla Shores Hotel’s premier restaurant. It features an award-winning chef, tantalizing menu, and beachfront ambiance.
La Jolla Shores Beach Essentials
There is a permanent lifeguard station at La Jolla Shores Beach. The beach is lifeguard protected from 9 a.m. until dusk daily; tide charts, surf conditions, and visibility are updated daily and posted outside the tower. A limited number of wide-tired beach wheelchairs are available at the lifeguard tower. This beach has designated swim and surf areas, so watch for signs and flags indicating use boundaries. There are restrooms and showers at the opposite end of the beach from the lifeguard tower. A long boardwalk runs the length of the beach and is often busy with early morning walkers and joggers. A large, free parking lot sits between the boardwalk and the street.
Beach fire rings are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be extinguished before leaving the beach. There is no alcohol or glass bottles, no smoking on the beach or adjacent areas, no littering, no excessive noise, no fishing, and no overnight camping. In addition, visitors cannot remove any marine animals or artifacts from La Jolla Shores Beach. The same rule applies to divers in the underwater canyon. This beach falls under the protection of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve.
La Jolla Shores has the only beachfront boat launch in San Diego. At the south end of the beach, you can drive your vehicle onto the beach to launch small boats.
La Jolla Shores Beach – It’s a Wrap
This uber-popular beach is what snowbirds dream about on winter nights. Its classic palm-lined Southern California beauty, tranquil waters, and quaint village feel put it at the top of San Diego must-see lists. If you happen to visit between March and June, nothing says SoCal better than the annual Grunion Run, and there’s no better place to see it than La Jolla Shores. Birch Aquarium has a special presentation where you can watch them hatch before heading to La Jolla Shores Beach to see them in their natural habitat. You could also just grab a flashlight and head right to La Jolla Shores Beach yourself to see hundreds of the mysterious silver fish spawning on the beach. Daytime or nighttime, La Jolla Shores is the epitome of Southern California beach life that you won’t want to miss it.