La Jolla Cove is San Diego’s most desirable spot for kayaking, snorkeling and diving. The water is calm and ecologically protected, providing a safe home for colorful garibaldi, yellowtail, rays and even leopard sharks. Because the water is protected, surfboards, boogie boards and other floatation devices are not permitted. The beach itself is small, but nearby Scripps Park offers a nice grassy expanse for spreading out.

La Jolla Cove is the most scenic place in San Diego to paddleboard. We always set off from La Jolla Shores Beach by the lifeguard tower. There is a large parking lot right there that has plenty of parking early morning, but it fills up quickly. If you miss your chance to park in the lot, then you have to go into the residential area to find a spot. As with all paddling, we recommend going early. If you go out in the early morning before the lifeguards are on duty, you can launch further south, closer to the cove. Once the lifeguards are on duty, you will have to launch from the surf zone which usually starts right in front of the lifeguard tower. The surf usually small enough to be able to paddle out with ease, but there can be some large days. You can check the surf report for La Jolla Cove here: Shuffle your feet, stingrays are common on the shores. 

Stay on your knees through the waves and paddle out to the cove to the left. There is a dedicated swimming zone when you get close to the cliffs. Make sure to give the swimmers plenty of room.  There will also be snorkelers, scuba divers, kayakers and sea lions to contend with. Visually, the cove is a breathtakingly gorgeous gem. Somewhat hidden with alluring curves and caves, it is often cited as the most photographed beach in San Diego. This ocean view's striking beauty simply cannot be overstated.


Going into the cave is tricky. It depends on the tide and waves on how safe it is to go inside. Some days are easy, some can be very dangerous. Please use caution if attempting to go in. Paddling into the cave is an adrenaline rush and beautiful at the same time. 

When it is time to head back to the beach, use the lifeguard tower as your target. Stay to the north of the tower so that you do not go into the swimming zone. If the surf is large, it is smart to have a leash on so that you do not lose your board into someone. 

There is a large grass area at La Jolla Shores to set your board down after getting out of the water. A great spot to collect your thoughts, clean off your board and get ready to load up for the trip home. We like to bring a gallon of tap water and a towel to clean off our boards. 

This beach has bathroom and shower facilities and picnic areas. No alcohol or glass containers allowed, no overnight camping, and no smoking on the beach or adjacent areas. Please no litter or excessive noise. No dogs allowed after 9am. Dogs permitted after 4pm in the winter and after 6pm year round.