San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park

With nearly 120 species and several habitats, the Underwater Park in La Jolla is a scuba diver’s dream. Play with seals, swim with sharks & explore the caves.
Why you'll love this beach
Why you'll love this beach
Dive or Snorkel the Reef, Kelp Forest, Sea Caves and More at La Jolla Underwater Park
La Jolla Underwater Park
Overview
Save on Tours
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

Green Sea Turtle La JollaClear Water at the La Jolla Underwater Park

La Jolla Cove is a small, deep water bay that faces north on the seaward end of rugged 200-ft high sandstone cliffs. Shallow reefs and the sheltered water of the cove tame the waves that result in a wicked shore break in other sections along the coast.

This is also near the location of the 6,000-acre San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. Containing the Ecological Reserve and Marine Life Refuge, the park was designated a protected area by the City of San Diego in 1971.

Save using your Go Pass!

San Diego Beach Tour
San Diego Beach Tour
Want to enjoy some of the best beaches in the world? Use your Go Pass and buy a San Diego Beach Tour. The half day tour takes you to La Jolla, seal beach, Torrey Pines and much more. You'll also see plenty of sea life, so bring your camera!
Buy Now
Local Tips
Who can use a Go San Diego Pass?

Adults and children (ages 3 to 12) can use the Go San Diego Pass – All-Inclusive, Explorer or Build Your Own - to visit the area’s top attractions and activities.

Things to Do

Kayaking
Kayaking
Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving
Snorkeling
Snorkeling

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.

Rock Pile

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.

Submarine Canyon

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.

How to Get There & Parking

Free Parking
Free Parking
Neighborhood Parking
Neighborhood Parking
Street Parking
Street Parking

La Jolla Shores beach and La Jolla Cove are the most popular locations from which to access the Underwater Park. Street parking is available at La Jolla Shores, but you should get there early to score a spot. Street parking at La Jolla cove is limited, but there is pay-for parking nearby.

Featured Activity

San Diego Harbor Cruise on San Diego Bay at Sunset
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Enjoy this ‘San Diego Top Pick Award’ winner as you set sail on a three level luxury ship providing 360-degree views of San Diego’s scenic beauty. Relax for a 1-2 hour narrated tour, learn about the city from the bay.
Buy Now

Know Before You Go & Tips

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

Know Before You Go

Seals and Sea Lions

The San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park is one of the best places to see seals and sea lions. However, if you’ll be spending time near them as they sun themselves, be prepared for a strong odor, especially when they gather in large groups.

Kellogg Park

Kellogg Park is at La Jolla Shores beach. In addition to a playground and lifeguard station there is a huge concrete map. The 2600-square-foot slab uses tiles, creating a mosaic depicting the nearly 120 species of sea life that scuba divers may have the opportunity to see.

Bring a Wetsuit

If you’re planning to spend most of the day scuba diving or heading toward Submarine Canyon, make sure you wear a wetsuit. The temperature fluctuates between 55 degrees in deeper water and 70 degrees closer to the surface and depending on the time of the year. You can see the monthly water temperatures on our weather page. Water visibility can be up to 30 feet or more, so bringing a camera is a must.

Look Up!

Remember to look up! Sea lions and sharks may be cruising overhead.

San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park
is Known For:
Snorkeling
Snorkeling
Know This:
Boat Access Only
Boat Access Only
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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