13 Best La Jolla Beaches (in 2023)
If you’re looking for the best beaches in La Jolla, you’re in the right place.
La Jolla, Spanish for “the jewel” lives up to its promising name. The upscale town not only offers tons of high-end hotels, restaurants and shops, but its spectacular coastline also is the real standout, even compared to San Diego’s other awesome beaches.
Whether you’re hoping for a relaxing day tanning on the beach, exploring underwater wonders, tide pooling, or surfing, you can find the perfect beach right in this tiny town!
Let’s explore 13 of the best beaches in La Jolla (and nearby). For more, bookmark our guide to the top California beaches.
Table of Contents
- 13 Best Beaches In/Near La Jolla
- FAQs about Beaches in La Jolla
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13 Best Beaches In/Near La Jolla
La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla’s longest stretch of sandy beach, perfect for a family beach day!
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Public lot that fills up quick | 🛎️ Where to Stay in La Jolla: La Jolla Shores Hotel
While most of La Jolla’s beaches contain small pockets of sand bordered by jutting rocks and cliffs, La Jolla Shores is a picturesque long, flat stretch of sandy beach. Its accessibility and extensive sandy area make it one of the most popular beaches in San Diego, let alone La Jolla.
The beach is home to the iconic Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, and a charming park and grassy playground at Kellogg Park. Plus, its proximity to the La Jolla restaurants and recreation shops on Camino del Oro and Avenida de la Playa allows for easy snacks and gear rental, making it a favorite for families looking to experience some of the best things to do in La Jolla.
👉 Pro Tip: Book a kayak tour to explore the gorgeous cliffs and hidden caves that lie between The Shores and La Jolla Cove.
La Jolla Cove Beach
Visit the beautiful cove formed by La Jolla’s seaside cliffs and see the many seas and sea lions up close!
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Street parking, can be tough to find a spot | 🛎️ Nearby: La Valencia Hotel
Located in downtown La Jolla, The Cove is one of the town’s most iconic sites. The cliffs and rocky reef create a half moon of protected sand that’s recognized as a favorite destination not only for human visitors, but also for tons of playful seals and sea lions.
The Cove is a short walk from tons of La Jolla restaurants and shops, as well as the grassy clifftop Ellen Browning Scripps Park, which makes it a great day trip, or weekend trip from San Diego!
👉 Pro Tip: Pay a visit to The Cave Store, a normal-looking store that hides secret access to a tunnel that leads to the interior of one of La Jolla’s iconic sea caves.
Children’s Pool Beach
The manmade sea wall that extends well into the ocean makes this La Jolla’s most unique and iconic beaches.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Street parking only which fills up fast | 🛎️ Where to Stay Nearby: Pantai Inn
Children’s pool is a small cove protected by a sea wall that was constructed in the 1930s to create a safe place for kids to swim. It turned out, however, that the California sea lions and harbor seals had other plans, and quickly occupied the sandy beach and surrounding rocks.
While the seals and sea lions have claimed the sandy area, walking out onto the sea wall gives unparalleled views of the quirky, playful animals and beautiful pacific ocean.
📚 Related Reading: La Jolla is one of San Diego’s many awesome neighborhoods to visit. For more, check out this article on Where To Stay in San Diego.
Marine Street Beach
Visit this small, sandy beach for avoid the crowds that flock to La Jolla Shores.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Free Street Parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
This small beach is a pocket of sandy shore popular with La Jolla locals hoping to avoid the more crowded La Jolla Shores. It boasts a volleyball net and plenty of sand to spread out on, though it’s not as close to restaurants and shops. If you’re hoping to have a relaxing day soaking up the sun or playing in the waves, this is one of the best beaches in La Jolla!
This beach is a beautiful blend of bluffs, rock formations, and pockets of sand.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: mostly free street parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
Windansea is, in my opinion, the best beach in La Jolla and one of my favorite beaches in San Diego. It lies on the south end of La Jolla, away from much of the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas but is a favorite spot for locals and surfers. The bluffs and rock formations that jut out of the sand are unique and beautiful, plus they create little niches that create a sense of privacy.
La Jolla Tide Pools
Explore miniature sea creatures in their tiny habitats at the LA Jolla Tide Pools.
📍 Google Maps | Beach Name Website | 🅿️ Parking: street parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
Just south of downtown La Jolla, the rocky outcrops and reefs create collections of exposed pools that are each miniature habitats for tons of rare creatures like urchins, anemones, nudibranchs, and tiny fish. The best time to visit the tide pools is at low tide, when most of the pools are exposed, especially during winter when low tide is the most extreme.
📚 Related Reading: Read more about when to go to San Diego for specific weather and events!
Torrey Pines State Beach
Visit the gorgeous beach that lies just below the rugged cliffs of the protected coastal Torrey Pines State Reserve.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Paid parking lot, $12-$25 per vehicle depending on demand | 🛎️ Where to Stay Nearby: The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Beneath the iconic rugged cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve lies the sandy beach Torrey Pines State Beach. What makes this beach so awesome is that the farther into the park you walk, the fewer people there are.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy Torrey Pines State Beach is to hike around Torrey Pines State Reserve (one of the best hiking spots in San Diego) and take the Beach Trail that takes you to the middle of the State Beach.
A short hike through the undeveloped cliffs of Torrey Pines leads to this remote, clothing-optional beach.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: paid lot or free parking along Pacific Coast Highway | 🛎️ Where to Stay Nearby: Les Artistes Inn
Located beneath the southern portion of Torrey Pines State Reserve, Black’s Beach is a secluded, hike-in beach whose great waves make it a favorite of surfers. It’s also the only clothing-optional beach in San Diego!
The hike to the beach deters many people, making it one of the least crowded shorelines in La Jolla.
La Jolla Underwater Park
Explore the underwater wonderland of the La Jolla Underwater Park where you can swim in kelp forests and rocky reefs.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Park at La Jolla Shores lot | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
While the La Jolla Underwater Park isn’t necessarily a beach, it is an underwater oasis that lies just off the coast between La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. The rocky reef and kelp forests attract tons of marine life, including sea lions, green sea turtles, bright orange garibaldi fish, leopard sharks, and seven gill sharks.
There are plenty of ways to take in this incredible underwater habitat, including snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and swimming.
Torrey Pines City Beach
Accessing Torrey Pines City beach requires a tough hike, which makes this one of La Jolla’s most remote, empty beaches.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: street parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
Just south of Torrey Pines State Reserve, the remote City Beach is only accessible via a steep mile-long hike down the protective sea cliffs. Those who brave the tough access are rewarded with a beautiful, often empty, long stretch of sandy beach.
Enjoy the views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean from this clifftop viewpoint.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: free street parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
While the actual beach of Goldfish Point is only actually accessible via the water, there’s a really beautiful lookout spot from the top of the cliff where you can watch tons of seabirds flying around. You can access the point via the Coast Walk Trail, which begins on Coast Boulevard, leads atop the clifftop, and offers spectacular plans of some of La Jolla’s most iconic beaches.
South Casa Beach
An awesome little beach in walking distance of downtown La Jolla, The Cove, and The Children’s Pool.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: free street parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
South Casa Beach is a small stretch of protected sandy shore just South of La Jolla Children’s Pool. Because it’s such a short walk from downtown La Jolla, the beach is popular with people staying in town. It’s also a perfect option if you want to hit La Jolla Cove, the Children’s Pool, and then go relax on a less crowded (with people and seals) sandy beach.
👉 Read Next: What to Do in San Diego (47 Best Things, By a Local)
A small, protected stretch of beach that’s right next to the La Jolla Tide Pools.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Free street parking | 🛎️ Search Hotels Nearby
This picturesque little cove is protected from the road by some small bluffs that make it feel tucked away and secluded. The beach is right next to the La Jolla Tidepools, so it’s a great spot to go sit and relax in the sand after exploring the rocks.
🏖️ Read Next: 21 Best Beaches in Southern California
FAQs about Beaches in La Jolla
Are La Jolla Beaches Safe?
La Jolla beaches are usually safe, although the surf and rip currents can be strong at all of La Jolla’s beaches, especially during winter. The waves at the small, rockier beaches like Windansea and Torrey Pines City Beach tend to break hard onto the shore. So if you would like to take a dip in the ocean but you’re concerned about ocean safety, I recommend going to La Jolla Shores, where you can ask one of the lifeguards for information about the day’s tides and currents.
Are La Jolla Beaches Dirty?
After strong rains, it’s advisable that you stay out of the water at and of San Diego’s beaches, including those in La Jolla due to runoff and higher levels of bacteria. San Diego rarely receives enough rain for this to be a concern, however.
La Jolla Cove has a reputation for being slightly dirtier than other La Jolla beaches simply because there is more wildlife found on the shores and rocks.
Why Does La Jolla Cove Smell?
La Jolla Cove has a strong smell due to the many sea lions, seals, and sea birds that converge and congregate in the space.
Are there Great White Sharks in La Jolla?
Great White sharks do inhabit the waters off of La Jolla Cove, Torrey Pines, and Del Mar though they usually stick to the deeper water well past the waves. When the water temperatures rise, sometimes sharks will come in closer to the shore for breeding but white sharks rarely attack humans.
San Diego’s beaches are some of the best in the Pacific, and La Jolla’s beautiful coastline is some of the most stunning in the city.
With rocky reefs, long sandy coast, stunning ocean cliffs, and hidden caves, the beaches offer tons of variety and opportunities to explore!
Before you go, be sure to bookmark my list of the best things to do in La Jolla.
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