Overview of La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

California South
USA West


Diving Mecca! If you haven't dived La Jolla Cove, you aren't a California Diver! Nice park, nice entry, and great diving await you. The area is protected, so the marine life take pleasure in taunting you. Drop by a local dive shop and ask about the seasonal conditions. Swells and rip tides can ruin your day.

Directions: 11 miles North of San Diego, take the La Jolla Parkway exit to the West. In 1.4 miles bear left on Torrey Pines Road. In 0.85 mile, turn right on Prospect Place. In 0.2 miles, bear left onto Prospect Street; in .35 miles turn right onto Jenner Street; then right onto Coast Blvd. You can't miss it.


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La Jolla Cove Patrons:   Please consider becoming a Patron for La Jolla Cove
*  Nicky Hoss (Lion Fish) --
*  Alexis Manly (Blenny) --
*  Shon Brodt (Blenny) -- This is the best dive site in the world!

Dive Site Links:   (If you have a relevant link for La Jolla Cove, please write us here.)
*  Sandiego Diving -- Recommended by Ted S.
*  Inside Scuba -- Recommended by Ted S.
*  Dive Bums -- Recommended by Ted S.

Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

09/12/2013 Jason NYC (Avg: 3.28 Review) - I both dove and snorkeled The Cove in a 2 day period. We got lucky and snagged a spot right by the stairs! Of course it was a weekday but it was still busy after 10am. Conditions were very calm, almost zero surf, nice 80 degree day, 68 degrees on the surface, 64 degrees at 25 fsw, sunny. Unfortunately viz was down to about 5 ft with an algae bloom in full effect. We didn't see much but a few sea lions and a ton of garibaldi. Snorkeling was much more enjoyable than the dive. Snorkeled out to the right to the large cave filled with sea lions. A must snorkel in SoCal!!

10/23/2012 Troy Ochowicz (Avg: 3.54 Review) - Harbor seals and sea lions are really playful and fun to snorkel with. If you are in to that sort of thing then you will not be let down.

08/30/2012 Anonymous (Avg: 3.39 Review) - Just went diving at the Cove on 8/29. The surface was amazingly calm, very easy entry. A bit of a current to the north. But the visibility was NOT good. Only about 6-8 ft. Marine life was okay, better than the Shores. But I had hoped for more.

03/12/2012 Tahoe1840 (Avg: 3.85 Review) - This evaluation is strictly to report visibility for March 9th, 2012. POOR. Five to 10 feet maximum. Talked to a lifeguard who reported they were experiencing a slight Red Tide. Diving was OK just poor viz.

10/12/2010 Mike from Mesa (Avg: 4.20 Review) - Great diving area for beginners. We had 30-35ft of Viz. Had seals swim within 10-15ft of us. Lobster everywhere. Depth anywhere from 20-40ft. Would recommend 7mm wetsuit as water temperatures range from 65-55degrees (In October). There is a large grassy area where you can set your stuff and restrooms/showers right next to that. A downside of this dive spot is the limited parking. If you arrive in the early morning (6-7AM) then you shouldn't have a problem. Overall, its a great dive spot that I would recommend to anyone.

09/25/2010 Doug from Cucamonga (Avg: 3.92 Review) - Overall a great dive site; I would say it's in the top 5 SoCal dive spots (arguably THE BEST snorkeling spot). Very easy shore access, lots of rocks/kelp/fish, sea lion encounters not uncommon (same for black Sea Bass). Visibility typically ranges from decent to excellent (10-40ft; 10-15ft being the norm). Also, there's a bathroom and showers. Downsides to this site are that there isn't an air fill station you can walk to (closest one is a few miles away). If you decide to get an air fill, good luck trying to find a parking spot when you get back! Parking is limited and difficult to get...you may end up parking quite a ways away, or paying $10-$20 to park in a parking structure (oh, and no leaving and coming back for free!) Conditions do vary, however, so you will be well-advised to check conditions in advance...sometimes it's great, sometimes it's crap, sometimes it's dangerous, sometimes it's closed! Overall, though, this a great dive site and a definite 'must-dive' for SoCal divers.

08/02/2010 Brandon Cales (Avg: 3.01 Review) - First time visiting. The water is almost 10 degrees warmer than Orange County beaches which made it an easier dive. The parking and entry/exit is the worst part of it all.
Parking - if you get there 6:30/7:00am you should be fine, anytime after 8:00, you're walking. They do have a gear drop off area and from what I saw, no one touches the gear.
Entry/Exit - it's not difficult except when the tide is in and waves come. If you can catch it between sets, just inflate and walk out as far as you can, then fin up and take off. Be sure to stay away from the cliff side at first. There are two sets of stairs from the grassy area to the beach - the west side is easier on the bottom step. Be careful of rocks while getting in. Dove the kelp beds which offered a lot more fish, it was a little mucky but had 10 or so foot viz. Dove at the buoy, not as much sea life, but the seals will play. A pod of dolphins was nice to see.
After dive - dealing with grass is easier to drop gear. Showers are decent for cleanup and restrooms weren't too bad. Great area to bring the family, too.

08/19/2007 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 3.23 Review) - This was my forth time to La Jolla Cove, and the first time I was able to dive there. My other trips were during the winter and it looked more like a washing machine down there than a diving site, so I skipped it and headed for La Jolla Shores. I went down a few weeks ago and could not find parking within a mile so again I headed to La Jolla Shores. Finally, I was able to get a dive in there and to be honest it was okay… It is a great site and fun dive, but it is almost too dived. Everything underwater seems touched and explored and the marine life there does not seem wild or natural. I think this is a great spot for new divers, but, for an adventure, I prefer La Jolla Shores. To be fair the visibility was only about 8 to 10 feet so I may enjoy this site more on a clearer day. There is plenty to explore here, so I am looking forward to returning.

09/11/2006 Pmcheng (Avg: 3.87 Review) - I was in the cove a few weeks ago and it was perfect conditions. The lifeguard hotline said 30+ feet of visibility, and it was at least 25 feet when we got down there. There was no surge or surf, which is somewhat unusual for the cove. We saw lots of life and kelp!

04/12/2006 Karl Lander (Avg: 3.53 Review) - I dove La Jolla Cove several times between June and October 2004, and had good dives every time, although surf conditions varied. The first time, entry was difficult due to surf. Lots of lobsters, garibaldis and even seal lions. If surf is low, it's a great dive experience.

11/27/2005 Brian Xavier (Avg: 4.15 Review) - Dove La Jolla Cove Thanksgiving day and what a great dive! Could easily be compared to Casino Point, but not quite the vis. Good vis to 25-30 feet. Lots and lots of fish. This was one of my best dives ever. The next day the vis was down to 10 feet, with a surge. Dove that afternoon and the vis was 5 feet with washing machine conditions. What a rough dive! Got to practice the Monastery Crawl on the way in. Overall and excellent dive. Loved the lobster and Garibaldi.

05/09/2005 Tanya Shirley (Avg: 2.62 Review) - I had to swim out about 300 yards (think 3 football fields) to get to the kelp beds. The visibility was about 10 ft. and the surge was pretty strong. We DID see 5 giant sea bass so I'd have to say, based on solely that, I'm glad we did the dive. La Jolla is beautiful, the weather was perfect, it wasn't crowded - it's just that the diving, for this particular weekend, was not good.

04/08/2005 K Robinson (Avg: 2.59 Review) - Dove this site early on April 3rd. Had 4 days of great diving prior to that day. We got briefed on site by locals and gave it a shot. High tide and the waves were breaking on the last step of stairs. Entry was difficult but we managed to go to the right of stairs to get out. We swam out to just about the 1/4 mile buoy and went down to around 20-25ft. The current on the bottom was worse than the top. Viz about 2ft. My daughter was getting sea sick on the bottom, go figure. We decided to go in and nav our way to an exit point and were slammed on the rocks on the bottom. After we got out, the life guards had posted diving not recommended. Looks like a great place; just bum luck. Lots of nice shops around, but get there early or no parking.

09/17/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 4.22 Review) - The best place to snorkel. You don’t have to worry about waves because there are none. Parking really sucks and is the number one turn-off about this spot.

08/19/2004 NW_Rafter (Avg: 4.25 Review) - The Cove is as good as it gets right now. Been in the water there all week since the 10th of August. Lots of fish, water is crystal clear in the more protected areas. Garibaly, bass, sharks, massive schools of baitfish. No need to travel the globe this time of year. Its right here now!

08/11/2004 Shamu Lover (Avg: 4.50 Review) - Had to drive around for 20 minutes for parking. Easy access to the cove. We saw lots of Giribaldis, a school of fish and Calico bass. Loved it! Highly recommended for snorkeling.

05/16/2004 Ron Reaves (Avg: 3.75 Review) - Weather conditions were great. Parking was terrible. Our first dive visibility was about 20'. The wind came up around noon and the sea was rough and the serge was strong, visibility was 10-15'. We talked to some locals which informed us that parking and conditions were superb around 6am.

10/02/2003 Divebuddy (Avg: 3.92 Review) - Caught a bad day. Visability was about 5 feet with fair amount of surge. Not much animal life that day. I'll have to go back when the visability is around 15 feet. Went snorkeling the week before and saw a fair amount of life.

07/14/2003 Chris Groll (Avg: 3.61 Review) - Awesome sight for the animal encounters. Conditions can turn from 10-15 ft in a few feet just outside the cove. Parking can be a real bear, so get there early

06/06/2003 Christian Schulz (Avg: 3.87 Review) - I'm not sure how this site could be realistically compared to Casino Point. The vis at Casino Point is just too good on average compared to La Jolla Cove. The first dive I made here was aborted because the surge was greater than the visibility, literally. Be careful for the rocky shore toward the left/south; the surf can easily pull you into the rocks. At night many lobster can be seen hiding in the reef at about 30'. The garibaldi seem to love this area too. I still thing this is a good dive if for no other reason that there is so much to explore here. Check with a local dive shop before heading out: (858) 273-2683

04/04/2003 James Sperling (Avg: 3.38 Review) - Well this is for info purposes only. I went and dove this site after diving the Yukon and Ruby. WOW! Surf was bad surge was bad and you guessed it Vis too!. My father-in-law had a difficult time but we still managed to have a good time. As for sea life I think I saw one tiny lobster and nothing else - DO fish hate surge too? Anyway if the surf is up I wouldn't go unless you are jonesing to get wet.

02/06/2003 Rob Barton (Avg: 3.48 Review) - What a great dive spot! I suppose that's because it's a marine sanctuary, but I was happily impressed. Get there early or there is no parking, and ask the other divers about the conditions. But other than that, this site is an underwater playground. We saw garibaldi, lobsters, a ray, and plenty more. Our plan was just to stay close to the cliffs (about 25-30 feet) so the vis was great and we had plenty to see. Test your navigation skills and try to surface at the beach (here's a hint: look for all the snorkelers).

08/04/2002 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.62 Review) - When you can find parking within a quarter mile, you're doing great! Great dive/snorkel spot with lots of Garibaldi, kelp, and even sea lions (I surfaced next to a 1,000-pound behemoth)!

01/31/2002 Melvin Pasley (Avg: 4.85 Review) - Park with about 30 stairs down to narrow sand beach, restroom with shower facility. Parking in nearby parking garage as are restaurants and shopping. 5 feet into the water and start diving or snorkeling. Max depth 40 feet, but can swim out to canyon if you like for 100+ ft. Teaming with life, marine reserve. Lots of fish, lobster, and kelp as well as rock formation. 12 Giant Black Sea Bass (250-300 lbs) can be seen here as well as occasional blue sharks and sea lions or seals. North facing beach provides protected entry most of the year from west and southern swells. Equal or possibly better than Casion Point Avalon CA.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CS1301


Parking at La Jolla Cove 

Parking is rarely easy at this site. Get there early and on a weekday if you can.




Parking at La Jolla Cove 

Drop off gear and passengers at the foot of the park.

Trail Head



Trail Head at La Jolla Cove 

The small park is a great place to stage your gear. The stairs are just to your right.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: CS1304


Trail Head at La Jolla Cove 

With fins in hand, head down the stairs.

Trail Head



Trail Head at La Jolla Cove 

You can tell from the picure that the center entry is easiest for getting water-borne.




Overview at La Jolla Cove 

Don't bother staging on beach. Too many sunners!


 Map     Sat
GPS: CS1307


Entry at La Jolla Cove 

Help your buddy into the waist deep water, check your gear, and you're off!




aerial at La Jolla Cove 
(click photo for details)

The underwater canyons are spectacular!

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  La Jolla Cove  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.08
Bottom Conditions:  3.67
Reef Conditions:  3.46
Animal Life:  3.96
Plant Life:  3.83
Facilities:  4.29
Solitude 2.33
Roads:  3.29
*Site Average:  3.69

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.21
Beginner Scuba:  3.88
Intermediate Scuba:  3.83
Advanced Scuba:  3.46
Night diving Scuba:  3.46

Number of reviews for this site: 24


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