La Jolla Shores is one of the most popular beaches in San Diego for good reason. Unlike most of rocky La Jolla, this beach is flat and has wide open sand. The waves are relatively calm making it a great place for children and learning how to surf.
Beach Type: Popular family beach with large grassy area
Access: From parking lot
Parking: free parking lot
Facilities: Restrooms/changing facilities
Good For: Surfing, swimming, family day at the beach, sunbathing, snorkeling, kayaking, picnics
Not Good For: crowds, parking
La Jolla Shores is downhill from La Jolla Village, at the bottom of Mt Soledad. It has a large free parking lot that quickly fills up on busy days. However, if you don’t mind walking you can usually find parking along the narrow side streets. Often, I will drop the family and gear off and go find a parking spot.
This is a favorite place for parties and school days at the beach. There is a large grassy area with grills and a playground. This makes it perfect for hosting a large event. The surf here is generally tame and the lifeguards are really on top of everything.
La Jolla Shores, like many beaches, separates the surfing area from the swimming and body boarding area. Generally, the area to the north of the lifeguard stand is for surfing while the southern area is for swimming.
Kayaking is extremely popular here. La Jolla Shores has a little village area a block from the ocean along Avenida de la Playa. This includes several places where you can rent a kayak or go on a tour. Kayak tours start on the south end of La Jolla Shores at the end of Avenida de la Playa.
Right past Avenida de la Playa, there are two hotels, La Jolla Shores Hotel and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. The beach in front here is for hotel guests only, but further south is a great area for snorkeling in front of the Marine Room.
Most of La Jolla Shores is part of the 6,000 acre San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. This protected area was established by the city of San Diego in the 1970s and it has a very diverse marine habitat. As such it is primarily designed for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Much of the snorkeling is down about a mile south at the rocky La Jolla Cove area. However, the area in front of the Marine Room restaurants at La Jolla Shores is home to one of the most exciting snorkeling attractions of all, swimming with sharks.
The leopard sharks are active in this area from August through October. However, they can be unpredictable. In 2017 they peaked in late September and October. During this time, we literally saw hundreds of sharks. So far, through mid-September 2018 we have not spotted any sharks. In talking to one of the kayak guides he said he has only seen about one or two a day.
Note that during high tide the area around the Marine Room is likely to have limited accessibility. This is also true of the area to the north towards Scripps Pier. But if you go during low tide, it is an easy walk from La Jolla Shores to the fascinating tide pools north of the pier at Scripps Beach.