If you haven’t yet been to The Children’s Pool, you may be surprised to discover that it’s not much of either. Even regular visitors may find the name a bit ironic, since swimming is at your own risk and the beach access is limited for half the year.
Back in the early 1930s, local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps had an idea to create a calm oasis along the rocky shore where children could safely swim and play in the water. She donated money to have a concrete sea wall built beyond the rocky jetty to protect this area of the beach from the rougher waves, and that’s how the beach came to be.
Of course, over time, the tides have turned, and what was once a peaceful lagoon has filled partway in with sand, making it an attractive spot for a different sort of visitor. The seals and sea lions that live in this part of the Pacific Ocean realized that the calmer waters of The Children’s Pool would make for a fabulous nursery, and they have essentially taken over the beach to birth their pups.
From mid-December to mid-May, the beach is designated for the sea mammals, and while people are welcome to come see them, it’s best to maintain a safe distance, as these proud mamas can be aggressive about protecting their pups. Visitors can best view the seals and sea lions from the breakwater wall or the park near Coast Boulevard.
For the other half of the year, the beach is open to humans, and lifeguards are present. Swimming is allowed, but again, thanks to the elevated bacteria levels associated with the seal and sea lion populations, it is not advised. Head to nearby La Jolla Cove for great swimming. Regardless, The Children’s Pool Beach is a fabulous attraction to visit if you want to watch the animals.
The seals and sea lions are pretty peaceful, but the beach has created a big hullabaloo between people who advocate for marine life and people who just want access to the beach. Some would prefer it be designated exclusively for the animals, while others find them a nuisance and wish they would go away.
Watching seals is actually featured in the Most Fun Things to do in San Diego