La Jolla Shores is the name of the small beach community along the wide, sandy shoreline at the bottom of the hill immediately north of La Jolla – one of San Diego’s more affluent neighborhoods. This northern suburb of San Diego has long been a haven for watersports. The ocean here is a protected area, the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, where snorkelers, divers and kayakers routinely ply the clear waters along La Jolla’s scenic coastline to view leopard sharks, bright orange Garibaldi (California’s State Fish) and seals in addition to an abundance of other sea life above and beneath the surface. The view from a stand up paddleboard is equally amazing. As a result of their higher position over the surface, SUP paddlers have a better view of the underwater activity than their kayaking counterparts giving stand up paddlers the best of both worlds above and below the surface.
The wide, soft, sandy beach stretches for approximately one mile (1.6 km) and the waves are generally among the most gentle in all of San Diego making La Jolla Shores a safe environment for novice paddlers to launch their SUPs from the soft sandy beach through the waves on most days. The beach lies along an elongated section of coastline partially protected from the prevailing ocean swell by the headland overlooking La Jolla Cove. Nevertheless, paddlers should bear in mind that La Jolla Shores is an ocean environment and the conditions on the water can change depending on the wind and swell.
As a general rule of thumb, if the wind is going to pick up, it is most likely to do so later in the day. Novice paddlers should schedule their outings for the morning to allow a higher degree of certainty the conditions will be favorable. The board rental shops at La Jolla Shores self police themselves as well and will not rent equipment if the conditions are unfavorable.
At the southern end of the beach the land juts upward into a rugged cliff on top of which sits the main neighborhood of La Jolla. A number caves can be found along the cliffs which form La Jolla Cove. The caves are popular places of exploration for kayakers and experienced SUP paddlers may be able to navigate some areas depending on the conditions. The often photographed Children’s Pool can be found at the end of the cliffs where the headland meets the open ocean. Due to the large number of swimmers, the Children’s Pool is off-limits to paddlers.
The water clarity around La Jolla Cove and throughout the basin is generally good and can exceed 30 ft (9 m). The area is known for hosting a large number of harmless leopard sharks which feed on the ocean floor. The area near the cliffs is a great place to look for Garibaldi and other colorful fish. It is also where you are most likely to encounter seals and sea lions. The marine mammals are unlikely to make contact with paddlers, but don’t be surprised if they pass by and check out your stroke! The gentle waves found at La Jolla Shores are also not a bad place for new SUP surfers to practice their wave riding skills. Be sure you are wearing a leash and adhere to the swimming/surfing area signs, if posted. It is always best to pick an area away from crowds to avoid colliding other beachgoers as you dial in your technique.
How to Get There
La Jolla Shores is located approximately 12 miles north of downtown San Diego. If you are coming from Mission Bay, another great place to SUP in San Diego, then the distance might be a little less, depending on your point of departure. Visitors will most likely be arriving via the I-5 Freeway.
If you have your own equipment, head directly to La Jolla Shores Park where you can find free beachside parking in the parking lot. To do so, turn left onto Calle Frescota through the residential neighborhood and it will take you directly to the entrance of the parking lot. The free parking lot will fill up quickly, but there is typically a steady ebb and flow of spaces becoming available throughout the day as watersports enthusiasts depart the beach at the conclusion of their activities.
If you plan on renting equipment during your visit to La Jolla Shores, then turn left onto Avenida de la Playa, the de facto main street, and look for street parking within the neighborhood.
Despite being a fantastic place to stand up paddle, as of our visit to La Jolla Shores in April 2015, the community lacks a dedicated SUP shop from which to rent. There are, however, a few water sports outfitters in the community which have basic stand up paddling equipment for rent.
Everyday California: Located at 2243 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, Everyday California is an action sports and apparel company offering SUP rentals. Check their listing online for current prices or give them a call at 858-454-6195 to reserve your equipment.
La Jolla Surf Systems: Located at 2134 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, La Jolla Surf Systems rents just about everything you might want for a day at the beach from SUPs to beach chairs and umbrellas. Phone: 858-456-2777.
Surf Diva: Located at 2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037. Surf Diva rents a variety of water sports and beach equipment alongside their sales of beach attire with an emphasis on apparel for women.
Where to Eat
As with many beachside communities, La Jolla Shores is home to a number of eateries catering towards tourists. Discerning clientele may wish to consider Shorehouse Kitchen. Located at 2236 Avenida de la Playa La Jolla, CA, 92037, Shorehouse Kitchen prides themselves on their breakfast menu, which is served daily until 2:30 pm. Shorehouse Kitchen also contains a coffee shop, the best in town, where you can find fresh ground coffee roasted by Calabria Coffee Roasters of San Diego. Freshly squeezed orange juice is also available along with free range, veggie-fed brown eggs from Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch and fresh bread from San Diego’s Bread and Cie.
Additional options around town include:
El Charro: Located at 2175 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, El Charro is La Jolla Shores’ resident Mexican joint. It’s not mind-blowing Mexican food, but will do the job when you’re coming off the beach looking for a taco. The staff was attentive during our visit and kept the place clean. El Charro also has a small patio out front where you can enjoy a cold bottle of beer while watching sunburned visitors stroll by trying to remember where it was they parked their rental car.
Jeff’s Burgers: Located at 2152 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, Jeff’s Burgers is the place to go if you are in the mood for a burger and fries during your visit to La Jolla Shores. They also offer a selection of hot and cold sandwiches in addition to ice cream and milkshakes. You can even call in your order at: 858-454-8038.
House of Pizza: Located within stumbling distance of Avenida de la Playa at 8107 Camino del Sol, La Jolla, CA 92037, House of Pizza is exactly what it sounds like. Serving up pies in their original thin crust or thick pan pizza style, they offer a few unique toppings such as Thai chicken, eggplant and zucchini, in addition to the standard options you would expect to find. Call in your order from the beach to have it ready: 858-551-0125.
Where to Stay
One of the best aspects of the area is that it isn’t overgrown with a row of high-rise resort hotels lining the beach. The most prominently located hotel is La Jolla Shores Hotel. Located on the beach at 8110 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037, the property is everything one would want from a hacienda-style beach hotel in Southern California. The hotel’s architecture features lush open-air courtyards, red-tile walkways, and roofs and balusters constructed of Spanish Salitillo to give the property an air of historic charm. A number of guest room options are available, including suites with kitchenettes, as well as extended stay packages should you decide to stick around and enjoy the clear blue skies and warm weather.
Away from the beach, Hotel La Jolla is another nearby option. Located at 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037, Hotel La Jolla is a chic and modern high-rise hotel with shuttle services to multiple nearby destinations. A range of wellness and spa services are available at this pet friendly property. The staff will even provide food bowls and a bed for your pet, upon request.
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