We were tickled to find that San Diego is so family friendly! There were dozens of activities to do in the city, and we were able to visit some really fun destinations. One of our favorite things to do while we travel is to find out what the locals do, outside, for fun. We have been sandboarding on the Oregon coast, surf fishing off on Padre Island, and clamming off of South Carolina. While we have done oodles of cool things, the ones that are the most memorable to us mountain-folk, are the ones that involve the ocean.
I don’t know if it’s that we didn’t see it for so long (until we traveled, most of us had never been to the ocean – only our oldest and Vaughn had!), or maybe it mesmerizes others like that too, but whatever it is, when it comes to the ocean, we are anxious to try just about anything.
We had heard how fabulous La Jolla Cove is. It is a cove with San Diego built up all around it. The fact that it was in town did not appeal to us, but the nearby La Jolla Caves certainly did. A mere 45 minutes from the RV park that we were staying in, and with easy traffic (as long as you leave before 4pm or after 7 😉 ), we decided to check the cove out.
When we arrived at the cove’s new parking lot (free!), we found it less than half full; yay for being here in the off season! lol. And, because we take 4 ocean kayaks with us, of course they came off the roof first thing!
Being from Montana, the kids don’t really care what the temperature is when we visit the beach! Playing in the surf is such a treat to us, we let them have at it.
The water here is incredibly clear. It made us wish that, when we were trying to figure out what to get the boys for Christmas, that we had thought to give the kids who don’t have them good snorkel sets!
We had talked with a local who does a lot of kayaking in the area, but she had yet to go kayaking La Jolla Caves out of fear that it would be dangerous, and she was worried about the tides. We decided that if the local guides advertized regular tours, all day every day, for beginners including younger kids, that it must not be that big of a deal; we decided we could handle it.
So, while mom, and the 4 youngest played on the beach,
Dad and the boys hit the water to paddle over and check out the caves.
There are 7 caves total; only one is accessible by water, but you can pay and walk down to some of the others from above (which we did not).
The guys loved the calmness of the cove, and with the clear water, they were able to see several large fish swimming beneath them. At first, one or two of them were nervous, you know, kayaking with sharks and all, but once they got out on the water, they weren’t worried at all. Obviously.
The guys were gone for quite awhile. They had a great time exploring the one cave that you can explore via water!
It was really hard to get good pictures in the cave because of the contrast between the bright sunlight outside of the cave, and the darkness of the shadows inside the cave (and the fact that I did not send my good camera with them!).
The water is very clear, and the kids could see leopard sharks swimming outside of the caves, and there were seals sunning themselves on rocks around the cave opening.
The tide level didn’t seem to effect how much of the cave you could kayak, and because the cove somewhat shelters the shore, the water was calm and perfect for paddling. No worries of waves bashing you up on the barnacle covered rock walls, which had been our big concern…
The boys were back long before we expected them…
and we wondered what was up. Maybe something happened, or they didn’t have fun, or it was scary.
Quite the contrary; the reason that they came back right away was because the caves were so cool that they wanted to make sure the little girls got to enjoy them also…
The girls hopped in the back of the kayaks, and the guys paddled off with them. That was the last Caleb and I saw of the rest of the family for quite some time (I enjoy kayaking, but sometimes it’s just nice to sit on the beach and text #wyff ‘where’s your feet friday’ pictures to my friends back home in the frigid north 😉 )…
Before our visits to La Jolla Cove, I wasn’t sure how we would like it; it is a beach that is surrounded by the city, and we don’t much care for crowded beaches (our conservative minds think that clothes are a good thing), but we loved it! The days that we were there were during the off season, and the weather wasn’t terribly warm for southern California, so there weren’t that many others on the beach. We loved that there was plenty of room for parking, and lots of room for the kids to play.
We kayaked and swam, built sand castles, and had seagulls steal part of our lunch. (so did other people – we got off easy with just a partial bag of Cheetos!)
We stayed until sunset. After after enjoying the sun going down from the beach, I’m not sure we will ever again be done playing on the ocean until after the sun has set.
La Jolla is a protected area, so there are some rules that govern use of the area: sea life is protected, so no flotation devices like surf boards or boogie boards (tho paddle boards were being used on the north end of the cove), and no dogs on the beach until 6pm (4pm in winter).
So, back to the caves…should you do them with kids? YES!
If you don’t happen to drive around the country with 4 ocean kayaks strapped to the top of your van, no worries! There are several shops within blocks of the beach, that rent kayaks. and paddles. and life jackets.
We enjoyed our time at LJ so much that this is something that we will plan to do again. We now see why La Jolla is a very popular destination for snorkeling and diving, and next time we go, it will be with more snorkel gear (learn from us, and take/get yours to begin with).
And don’t forget your camera. Especially if you are able to stay until sunset.
La Jolla holds some of our favorite memories of California! I’m pretty sure that this one location has given us a slight fascination for snorkeling. Not sure where that will lead, but it’s sure to be somewhere else interesting too!
If you find yourself in Southern California, there are so many family friendly things to do!
And if you find yourself in San Diego in the month of February (like now), every year Macy’s presents Museum Month. Stop by any of the 14 area Macy’s stores beginning 2/1, and ask for their free museum pass. The museum pass gets up to 4 people into the 45 local SD museums for half off during the month of February!!! (large fams, get mom and dad to each pick one up) Half price museums even include the USS Midway (loved it! you can check out our post about it here), Cabrillo National Monument (incredible national park with history, scenery, and tide pooling! just stay all day.), and the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum (no clue what it’s like since we didn’t make it there, but with a name like that, it’s probably pretty cool!). You can learn more about Macy’s Museum Month on this San Diego Visitor’s Bureau webpage.
There is so much to see and experience in San Diego, that you are sure to have a great time! And if you enjoy getting out into creation, La Jolla Cove, and especially La Jolla Caves, are sure to be a highlight of your stay!