Abundant sea life, sheltered access, and an easy entry make La Jolla Cove is one of the most popular shore diving locations in San Diego. La Jolla Cove itself is part of a marine preserve. Nothing may be removed from the preserve and molesting sea life is prohibited. Consequently, game species like lobster are plentiful, and not nearly as skittish as they are in other location. There is a map showing the preserve boundaries near the west stairway. Showers, restrooms, and lawn are located above the cove.
The cove itself has a small sand beach surrounded by cliffs. Two stairways lead from the cliff top down to the cove. Divers normally gear up on the grass above the cove. Use the east staircase to get to the water. The surf zone is extremely narrow. The beach slopes gently, then suddenly drops off to 3-4 ft. Inflate your BC 3/4 full, walk into the water, and don your fins when you can float.
Swim straight out 100 yards or so and drop down. If you go straight out, or bear easterly, depths will not get much beyond 25ft unless your console falls into a crevice. You will find some underwater cliffs if you follow the shore to the north. These are at a still modest depth of 35 feet. Around the point from the cove itself, are Boomer's and Rock Pile. These are a longer surface swim, but accessible to divers.
When exiting, head straight for the eastern stairway. You can then avoid the rocks in the surf zone which lay on either side. At high tide, turn west just as soon as the bottom gets sandy. Exiting is usually the reverse of the entry procedure. Get to the shallow water just outside the surf, remove your fins, and wade out. If you find yourself in the breakers, swim out a little further or crawl onto the beach.
Climbing the stairs after egress will be the toughest part of your dive. Drop your gear, hit the showers, get a big drink of water, and savor your dive. This is about as good as it gets.
There is only one drawback to La Jolla Cove -- The Sand. The sand is fairly coarse and finds its way into the damnedest places. Ellen DeGeneres fans will know exactly what I mean. Figure on bringing some home with you.
Boomer's beach is just to the west of La Jolla Cove. Entry is possible in calm conditions. The beach here is made over cobbles and requires care when laden with dive gear. You may hunt from this location as it's just outside the preserve. However, you must enter and exit at Boomer's if you are going to be carrying game.
There are restaurants and cafes within walking distance. Air fills are also available at Ocean Express on Prospect Street. This is an uphill walk with a tank but can be done.
This is a popular tourist area and parking is usually a problem. Arriving early is the best defense. Alternatively, you may use the 3 minute drop off zone and park in a pay garage nearby. Small cars are definitely preferred over a Suburban. There is a park at the top of La Jolla Cove. People fly kites, play Frisbee, picnic, and sunbathe. There are also tide pools on the west side of the cove. Kids seem to enjoy these a lot.
Despite the traffic, and occasional crowds, this is still an excellent place to dive. We'll keep returning until we run out of compressed air.
Copyright 1998, David Ambrose All rights reserved.
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