Tuesday, November 9, 2021

San Diego: La Jolla Beach and Sea Caves

La Jolla Sea Caves.

I don't remember how I found out about the sea caves in La Jolla but I decided to reserve a guided tour by kayak for my first full day in the San Diego area. This turned out to be a perfect day. One of the issues with kayaking to the sea cliffs is surf conditions. I'd only previously ever been to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, where the surf is normally modest (and a couple of the Great Lakes - even smaller). West coast Pacific surf belies the name; it isn't pacific (peaceful) most of the time. The surf was modest, and the morning overcast and fog cleared up just as we began our tour.

Pacific Ocean living up to its name.

The kayaks were the sit-on-top variety and built to handle open water. They tracked straight but were heavy and little difficult to turn. I'm used to whitewater kayaks that turn on a dime. I haven't paddled much in recent years, usually only once or twice and year, and it took me a few minutes to get used to the swells. La Jolla is a preserve and teems with sea life and birds, and people watching them from various boats, paddle boards, scuba, and snorkeling. If I'd had more time, I would have snorkeled as I have a cheap setup, but for the day I was worn out by the paddling.

A couple of harbor seals. I had trouble photographing them due to currents and choppy water, but also due too many kayaks.

Much of the tour covered the local wildlife. We saw MANY leopard sharks, which are about 3 to 5 feet in length and favor the shallow, sandy waters of La Jolla. The water was remarkably clear and I could not have kept track of how many of these we saw. I also saw a handful of Garibaldi, the state fish of California, which has the same coloration as a gold fish. The waters were also filled with kelp and sea grass. On the surface and in the sky we saw numerous waterfowl. I can't remember all the species but there were the usual pelicans and gulls, but also cormorants and a single Peregrin falcon perched on the cliffs. I got a poor resolution photo of it. We also saw harbor seals. Unfortunately I struggled with the current around the rocks and failed to get a good photo of them.

The sea caves.

The cliffs along La Jolla are collapsing gradually into the sea. The guide pointed out a place where a structure had collapsed many years before. Some of the houses along the cliffs are uninsurable and can only be sold "cash only." Other sections of the cliffs, including the caves, are more stable.

In one of the caves.

We got the opportunity to paddle into the caves one by one. Some people got lucky and experienced whitewater, but I was unlucky and the waters were placid despite waiting a couple of minutes. There was a baby seal sleeping on a shelf. The guide suggested it had fallen asleep when the tide was high and then was afraid to drop the few feet to the water to leave. The seal did not react to our presence, but there were many kayakers visiting cave, so probably they are a little bit tame.

On the same topic, probably one of the few issues with La Jolla, was how busy it was on the weekend. My trip was on a Sunday, so I assume it can be worse on Saturday, but the waters were crowded with swimmers, divers, snorkelers, and several different kayak guide groups. The community of La Jolla seems to be fairly wealthy and the small business district has a few shops and restaurants. I think there may be some other business areas that I didn't get around to visiting. It's a lovely neighborhood and I'm sure weekdays are wonderful. Other than crowding, it was an amazing experience and was my favorite thing from my trip to San Diego.

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