Big Rock

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There are a few access points to Big Rock Reef. One is located along Camino de la Costa just north of Avenida Cortez. There is a small path located in between the second and third house north of Avenida Cortez on Camino de la Costa. The other access is at the end of Palomar Ave.
Picturesque, Big Rock Reef appeals to visitors from all over. However, it's best known for surfing and huge swells, and not swimming-friendly waters.
Why you'll love this beach
Why you'll love this beach
Catch a Wave at the Surfer’s Paradise of Big Rock Reef
Big Rock
Overview
Save on Gear
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Get There & Parking
Featured Activity
Know Before You Go
Stay Nearby
Similar Beaches

Highlights

Things to Do
Tips
How to get there
Parking
Things to Do
Tips
How to get there
Parking

Overview

Dramatic Sunset Over Big Rock ReefKids Finding Life in the Tide Pools at Big Rock Reef

The prettiest slice of Pacific coastline to the south of Monterey, the La Jolla beaches are known for their true sandy shorelines, imposing cliffs, underwater reefs and expert surf breaks. Big Rock Reef is no different.

Situated at the foot of Palomar Avenue and just to the south of Windansea, Big Rock is more of a surfing wave than it is a beach. Like many of the area’s beaches, Big Rock caters more to surfers than it does sunbathers and swimmers.

If you plan to visit, bring your board. Otherwise, you may want to stop in, snap a few shots of the breathtaking scenery and move on to a more family-friendly stretch of sand, such as La Jolla Cove or The Children’s Pool.

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La Jolla - Full Day Snorkel Rental
La Jolla Full Day Snorkel Rental
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Local Tips
What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

Things to Do

Running
Running
Sunbathing
Sunbathing

Surf’s Up at Big Rock

Fast Heavy Waves

Big Rock is a surf spot, plain and simple. The large chunk of reef that protrudes just offshore — the beach’s namesake — produces a consistent fast and heavy wave that is ideal for surfing almost all year long.

When there is a wind swell, it’s thanks to the winds from the west. The best surf conditions occur around mid-tide, but be forewarned: When the wave is working, the spot is likely to be crowded. It is said to have stand up barrels when it is working about a dozen or so times a year.

Even if you don’t surf, at least bring your binoculars. You can vicariously join the surf action through the lens and, if you have a knack for photography, you may just catch a surfer standing up in a barrel or two.

Local Tips
Looking for the Surf?
Just head down Palomar Ave and go down the stairs. Jump in the water and paddle to the left for the main break. Watch out for the rocks & heavy waves!

Tide Pools at Low Tide

It’s fair to say that, at low tide, Big Rock Reef does turn somewhat family friendly. Thanks to the offshore reef, the beach provides some excellent tide pools to explore. When the swell is not running, you may even want to don your scuba gear and explore the reef further out, as Big Rock and nearby beaches have some of the richest reefs in the area.

Stay Nearby & Explore More

The Holiday Inn Express and Suites La Jolla Beach Area is the perfect place to put your feet up after a long day’s surf and exploring the tide pools. The Holiday Inn Express and Suites La Jolla Beach Area is located less than a mile away from Big Rock Beach and even closer to the beautiful Windansea Beach.

How to Get There & Parking

Free Parking
Free Parking
Street Parking
Street Parking

Getting to Big Rock

If you’re coming from I-5 northbound, exit La Jolla Parkway west. Take that until it merges with Torrey Pines Road.

If you’re coming from the I-5 southbound, exit La Jolla Village Drive West. Hang a left on Torrey Pines Road.

Once on Torrey Pines Road, take it all the way until it dead ends into Girard Avenue and take a left. Take a right on Pearl and a left at La Jolla Boulevard. Take La Jolla Boulevard all the way to Palomar Avenue and hang a right, which will dead end into Neptune Place and the coast.

Parking Near Big Rock

There are no designated parking spots at Big Rock Reef. You may be able to snag one of the few designated spots for nearby beaches, but it’ll be more likely for you to find street parking.

Featured Activity

Interact with Dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
The world-famous SeaWorld San Diego is home to animal shows, roller coasters and other rides for the entire family. Enjoy encounters featuring the famed Orcas, dolphins and sea lions, or take a tour through the habitats.
Learn More

Know Before You Go & Tips

No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Camping
No Camping
No Glass Containers
No Glass Containers
No Motorized Vehicles
No Motorized Vehicles
No Smoking
No Smoking
No Trash Cans
No Trash Cans

Things to Be Aware Of

No Sunbathing

Almost all the beaches in the La Jolla area are characterized by rocky shorelines and foreboding cliffs and are otherwise unsuitable for both sunbathing and swimming. Big Rock fits this bill pretty nicely.

If you do plan to sunbathe, you can always just walk directly north to Windansea, which offers a decent amount of space on which you can spread out your towel and take in the scenery. Again, however, Windansea is not swimming-friendly; unless you’re an excellent swimmer or avid surfer, you’re probably not going to get much more than your feet wet at any of these beaches.

Limited Access

Big Rock Reef has limited access, which means parking is minimal and there are no facilities. The beach does not have lifeguards, it does not have restrooms and there is no snack shack. If you envision long, sunny days spent frolicking in the waves, eating burgers and soaking in the sun, Big Rock is not your beach. You may want to try La Jolla Shores.

That said, if you do spend the day surfing or watching people surf, you can always head up to Palomar Avenue for a bite to eat, something to drink and to use the restrooms.

Respect the Nature

Big Rock, like many of the surrounding beaches, is under heavy protection. Do not remove the rocks or any other sea life from the area. If you come across a seal, don’t harass it. Other rules include: No glass bottles, no alcohol, no public disturbances, no camping and no littering.

Be Careful of the Reef

WORD OF CAUTION: Beyond the shoreline of Big Rock, underwater reefs and rocks abound. If you go beyond your knees, you may also discover for yourself the powerful rip currents, shallow reef breaks and sharp drop-offs.

If surfing at low tide, know that the spot does become a little ledgy, and because of the nearby reef, you risk dropping out and getting sucked toward the reef. If you hit it, it will hurt.

Big Rock
is Known For:
Surfing
Surfing
Know This:
Tide Pools
Tide Pools
This Month's Forecast
67℉ / 79℉
Sunny in September
Oct
63℉ / 78℉
Sunny in October
Nov
56℉ / 73℉
Sunny in November
Dec
51℉ / 68℉
Sunny in December

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