The most compelling geographical highlights of La Jolla is its ocean front, where residents and visitors can enjoy the alternating rugged and sandy coast line and view wild seal congregations.
Popular sandy beaches, dotting the coastline from the south to the north, are:
Children’s Pool Beach, or the Casa, or Casa beach, is a small sandy beach located at 850 Coast Boulevard, at the intersection of Jenner Ave, in La Jolla, California.
In 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service recognized the Children’s Pool as a natural harbor seal haulout and rookery site.
In 2005 it advised the City it could remove the seals without asking permission. In 2007, a court order mandating clearing accumulated sand and shooing away the seals to allow children to swim there again was unanimously upheld by a 3 judge appeals court. The seals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Back in January 2007, the City maintained a rope barrier from December 15 through May 15, so pregnant seals can rest and give birth on the beach without humans coming too close and frightening them. Pupping season is officially mid January to mid April.
The rope was put up with no legal authority but as an “indicator”, with an opening for the public to pass through as mandated by the Coastal Commission. A permit for the same rope this year is yet to be acted on.
A sea wall protects the beach from waves, making it a favored spot for the seals and divers and swimmers. Before the sea wall was built in 1931, there was a shallow water area between a large rock and a mainland bluff called “Seal Rock Point.” The sea wall was built on top of several rocks, across the channel, connecting it to Seal Rock Point.
Local benefactress Ellen Browning Scripps paid for the project and dedicated it as the Children’s Link titlePool “..devoted exclusively to public park, bathing pool for children, parkway, highway, playground…”
Seal Rock is and always has been 100 yards north, where seals had always played. In 1990’s, to help promote a reserve at Seal Rock, Sea World began dropping all rescued and rehabilitated harbor seals from the entire county in the kelp beds off Seal Rock.
The seals were used to humans and joined them on the nearby Children’s Pool Beach. To this day they are very acclimated to people and will play with swimmers and divers.
Harbor seals began using the beach in increasing numbers in the 1990s as a haul-out spot after the Sea World veterans began showing up.
There continues to be heated controversy over whether the beach should be protected as a marine sanctuary or used for recreational swimming.
This in spite of the ruling by the Coastal Commission that Children’s Pool cannot be used as a marine preserve. Currently, swimming is allowed but not typically recommended due to a high coliform index which is entirely due to seal feces.
Though many people do swim there, none get sick.
California sealions also use this beach as a haul-out area.
The beach at La Jolla Cove is located at 1100 Coast Boulevard, in La Jolla, California. It is a very small beach within walking distance from the Children’s Pool Beach, and it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California. The sand on this beach however is coarse and gritty.
Scripps Park, a grassy area excellent for picnicing, is located on the bluffs above the beach. The beach is also within walking distance of many shops and restaurants.
La Jolla Cove is popular for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling. However, since La Jolla Cove is within the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, specifically the part defined as the Ecological Reserve (a marine refuge area) “swimming devices” (surfboards, boogie boards, even inflatable mattresses) are not permitted, and this rule is carefully enforced by the lifeguards. No fishing and no collecting of marine invertebrates (even taking dead specimens or shells) is allowed in the Ecological Reserve.
For more information, see San Diego’s official website for La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Shores is a beach in La Jolla, California, located at the foot of the residential area of the same name.
The beach is approximately one mile long and stretches from the sea cliffs just north of La Jolla Cove to Black’s Beach south of Torrey Pines State Park. Shores meets the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus and Kellogg Park, encompasses the Scripps Pier and borders the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve to the south. The beach is a popular launch point for kayakers as it is one of the only beach boat launches in the La Jolla area.
Described by the Orange County Register as “the best beach in the area”, La Jolla Shores regularly features in the Court TV show, Beach Patrol: San Diego.
Black’s Beach is a de facto clothing optional beach in La Jolla, California. It is perhaps the largest nude beach in the United States and is popular with many Southern Californian nudists and naturists.
It is situated north of downtown La Jolla and south of Torrey Pines State Park. Access is available from La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Park, or via trails down the cliffside by the historic Torrey Pines Gliderport near the Salk Institute.
Part of Black’s Beach is within the State Park, and part within the City of San Diego. Nudity is prohibited on the city portion of the beach, but is tolerated for about a mile north of the trail head leading to the gliderport — the portion within the State Park.
A volunteer group called the Black’s Beach Bares helps to keep the beach clean, safe, and maintained.
They also host events and picnics through the summer at the beach. They are affiliated with The Naturist Society and the Las Vegas Bares.
Black’s Beach is known to surfers as one of the most powerful beach breaks in Southern California.
The waves gain the power due to the focusing effects of an underwater canyon just offshore.
Because of the large surf and aggressive crowds, Black’s is a dangerous surfing location.
There is a gliderport atop the Black’s Beach 300 foot cliff.
The beach is very close in proximity to the University of California, San Diego and is popular with the students of the university. Many students can be seen walking from the university to Black’s.
Windansea Beach encompasses a historic stretch of scenic coastline located in La Jolla, a community in San Diego, California. It is named after an oceanfront hotel that burned down in the late 1940s.
Geographically, it is defined by the beachfront extending north of Palomar Avenue (Big Rock) and south of Westbourne Street (Simmons).
Historically, it is defined by some of the most progressive and colorful characters in California surf history.
The main peak at Windansea is a classic reef break and has long been famous among the region’s most skilled surfers for its reliable waves and consistently good form.
The geographic location of Windansea’s reefs is ideally situated to host a broad variety of swell directions, especially the fickle south swells that often seem to elude other San Diego County, California beaches.
During the summer months, when most locations are experiencing two-to-three feet surf, it isn’t unusual for Windansea to pick up six-to-eight foot surf. Other breaks in the vicinity of Windansea include Middles, Turtles, and Simmons, named after Bob Simmons (who died at that break in 1954), and Big Rock.
The focal point and cultural icon at Windansea is a simple palm-covered shack, located beneath the narrow parking lot, just in front of the main peak. It was originally constructed in 1946 by original locals Woody Ekstrom, Fred Kenyon and Don Okey. The site gained notoriety for its annual summer luaus before police cracked down on the out-of-control event in the early 1950s.
The social hub is a narrow parking lot, located on the bluffs overlooking the Windansea shack. The facilities are not very accommodating for visitors. The parking lot offers just a few spaces and there are no drinking fountains, showers or public restrooms. “The Surf Shack at Windansea Beach” was designated as an historical landmark by the San Diego Historical Resources Board on May 27, 1998.
Windansea has served as home break at one time or another to many notable surfers, including Pat Curren, Mike Diffenderfer, Joey Cabell, Mickey Munoz and Butch Van Artsdalen. As far as its impact on surf culture and the development of the sport, it ranks at the top of the list along with Malibu, San Onofre and Huntington Beach.
Steve Pezman, former publisher of Surfer magazine and current publisher of The Surfer’s Journal, called Windansea locals in the early 1960s “the heaviest surf crew ever.”
The famous Windansea Surf Club featured a veritable who’s who of hot young surfers during the sport’s Golden Age.
Founded by Chuck Hasley in 1962, the Club attracted high profile members such as The Endless Summer star and first Vice President Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, Joey Cabell, Del Cannon, Mike Purpose and Rusty Miller. Other notable surfers who cut their teeth at Windansea include Andy Tyler, Tom Ortner, Brew Briggs, Chris O’Rourke, Richard Kenvin, Miko Fleming, Debbie Beacham, Peter King, Saxon Boucher, Ian Rotkins, George Felactu, Longboard Larry and Keith Humes.
In 1963, Michael Dormer and Lee Teacher built a six foot, 400 pound version of their Hot Curl cartoon character out of cement, iron, a mop, a light bulb, and a beer can. The statue mysteriously appeared on the rocks over Windansea beach in La Jolla, holding a beer in one hand while gazing out over the ocean in search of the perfect wave.
This concrete surf god got the attention of newspapers across the country. In 1964 Hot Curl became a star. Hot Curl was the inspiration Hollywood was looking for when it filled the screens at movie houses with a string of “Beach Party” movies.
In the summer of 1964, the Hot Curl image appeared in several scenes of “Muscle Beach Party” starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Buddy Hackett, and Don Rickles. Dozens of young surfers got signed as well.