Welcome to Another World
This vast ecological area contains several unique habitats. The gentle surf and crystal-clear water make the conditions ideal for underwater photography while snorkeling and diving.
Within the cove, rock reefs teem with horn & leopard sharks, a variety of schooling fish, kelp crabs, sheep crabs and giant kelpfish. Non-horn sharks and occasionally bat rays visit, for amazing photo ops. You can see the yellow buoys that mark the sanctuary’s boundaries when you swim away from the beach.
When you swim out to the first yellow buoy and drop down about 40 feet, you’ll find an extensive rock reef system, surrounded by sand and kelp. This environment sets the stage for some of the best scuba diving around. You’ll have the opportunity to see many of the same creatures that are in the reefs closer to shore, but without the combination of kelp and rock reef.
There is also less swell here than you may experience closer to shore. Open water creatures, such as the common mola (also known as the ocean sunfish), gray whales and blue sharks, can sometimes hang out here on their way through the area as well.
The Giant Kelp Forest
The kelp beds stretch to the surface from the seafloor. In some places, it surpasses 100 feet, growing as much as 18-inches a day. The kelp provides food and shelter for thousands of creatures, great and small.
Fish, such as opaleye and sago, school in large numbers here, weaving in and out of the stalks. Sevengill sharks, tope sharks and other predators of the sea also call this fully functional ecosystem home.
Marine Room Reefs Diving
Head east, past La Jolla Shores, toward the end of the reserve for the Marine Room Reefs. Halibut, guitarfish and rays are often swimming these shallow waters along the shore. As you move south, seagrass-covered rocks replace the white sandy bottom.
Hermit crabs, moray eels and nudibranchs play hide and seek along the bottom and leopard sharks play here during the summer. Continue south to reach the end of La Jolla Shores Canyon.
Know Before You Go
Strict rules enforced by the State of California Department of Fish and Game prohibit disturbing marine life here. You may not fish, surf, boogie board, or scavenge in the reserve.
South of Scripps Pier near the eastern edge of the ecological reserve is one of the best local scuba sites. As you move south, the sandy bottom and shallow wave break attract stingrays, snails, shrimp and sand dabs. The seafloor drops suddenly from about 45 feet to more than 200 feet below the surface.
As you swim further into this unique geological feature, the bottom plunges to 700 feet, and you are still less than a mile from shore. Access it from the south end of Kellogg Park to reach the rim of the canyon in less than 275 yards.
Explore the overhangs and crevices in the clay canyon walls that are home to bottom-dwelling fish such as blennies, sculpins, gobies and island kelpfish. You can come upon lobster, octopus and squid as you delve down into the deeper areas of the canyon.
La Jolla Sea Caves
A series of seven sea caves are carved into the cliffs near La Jolla Cove. Sea lions sun themselves on the rocks nearby or play in the waves, and Horn sharks often swim near The Clam. More adventurous divers may choose to explore Sunny Jim Cave, the White Lady or any of the other caves and corridors found here.
Boomers and The Underwater Walls
Get your camera ready! Baby seals play in the surf and gray whales breach here during the Fall. The long, jagged passageways below are filled with mackerel, anchovies and schools of glittering silver sardines. Keep an eye on the conditions, though. This area is often inaccessible during large surf.