The Seven Caves of La Jolla

The La Jolla Caves are a magnificent set of seven caves nestled between La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores. Of the seven dynamic caves, only one of them is accessible by land; the other six can only be viewed by kayaking with a guide. The caves are set within a seventy-five million year old sea cliff and are all uniquely named. White Lady, Little Sister, Shopping Cart, Sea Surprize, Arch Cave, Sunny Jim’s Cave, and Clam’s Cave make up the seven caves of La Jolla. Sunny Jim’s Cave is unique in that it is the only known land accessed cave along the California shoreline.You are not allowed to enter any of the caves without an experienced tour guide, because of the possible dangers from changing tides.

The Storied Past of La Jolla Caves

Sunny Jim’s Cave got its name from the shape of its mouth; it closely resembles a cartoon character used for a brand of cereal that was common at the turn of the century. Within this exquisite cave is a set of 145 steps that go up a tunnel to a shop named the Cave Store that sells and rents snorkeling gear. The cave tunnel, carved out by Chinese immigrant laborers, is an important aspect of the cave’s history. In fact, all the caves were frequently used for smuggling Chinese and other immigrants into the United States. This was the original purpose of the tunnel leading from Sunny Jim’s Cave to La Jolla’s Coast Boulevard. These intriguing caves were also once used to smuggle illegal whisky during prohibition.

What to Expect on Your Tour

Of the seven caves, only Clam’s Cave is visible from land; it gets its name from the unusual double-sided mouth entrance. The tours through the caves are offered by a number of vendors and visitors should expect to pay around $25 per person. Before you begin the tour, your guide will go over simple kayaking dos and don’ts, and you will be provided with a helmet and a life vest. Starting from La Jolla Shores beach you will head across tranquil waters toward the La Jolla Cove and the caves. You will be delighted to see various different sea creatures along the way, such as spotted leopard sharks and bright orange garibaldi fish, as well as sea lions that rest on the surrounding rocks.

Sunny Jim’s and the Cave Store

The Faces of CavesIf you love the great outdoors and seek out unique and one-of-a-kind experiences, you’ll enjoy a guided La Jolla cave tour. The tours are approximately two hours long; and guides are knowledgeable about caving and kayaking practices. Spend some time on the open water while learning about these historic caves. When you finish with the guided water tour of all seven caves, head to Sunny Jim’s Cave where you can see it from a whole new perspective. Climb the stairs through the lighted tunnel to find yourself in the Cave Store. Maybe you’ll even want to buy yourself a souvenir commemorating your unique experience!