Diving La Jolla Cove With The Sea Lions

  • Updated: October 03, 2019
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

October 3rd, 2019

Jack and I have been taking advantage of the fact that we're both not working at the moment and getting in some more involved local dives. That means instead of just running down to Laguna and sneaking in a single tank before heading in to the office we can throw in an extra tank and drive further afield to try new areas.

I've only dove the La Jolla area once before and that was at the La Jolla Shores site last December. It was a great experience but just a soso dive and I'd been saying for a while now I wanted to go back and try it again. So with conditions in Laguna Beach looking soso Jack and I decided to give it another go on a Thursday morning.

We left Orange County around 9 am aiming to get down there for the hide tide at 10:30. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake as the parking was a zoo by the time we arrived.

We drove by La Jolla Shores first but decided to check conditions at the Cove since I hadn't dove there last time. and as luck would have it we managed to snag one of the rather busy parking spots there.

We geared up on the grass like we saw others doing nearby and took the opportunity to ask about conditions. Everyone said conditions were ok but the vis was a little disappointing. They also universally agreed that this site was far more interesting than Shores.

To access the cove you head down some stairs which at high tide dump you directly in the shallow water.

There were a number of people snorkeling or just sitting on the sand as we went out and I'm pretty sure we had our picture taken a good hundred times be people watching from the sidewalks above. Fortunately the waves were small so we didn't do anything too embarrassing.

As we'd been told to expect the visibility was a bit on the hazy side but considering we've been off Laguna in 5 ft we were more than satisfied.

On the advice of another diver we went off to skiers right of the cove and followed the shallows hoping to see sea lions. We saw one or two but they didn't stick around long.

We did see the usual assortment of lobsters, garibaldi, a guitarfish, nudibranchs, and miscellaneous fish.

We turned west and headed across the cove towards Boomer to see if things were any better. The water was a bit calmer in the deeper sections but it wasn't until the very end when we were headed back to shore that we hit paydirt.

There was a group of 10 or so juvenile sea lions hanging around a shallow shelf to skiers left of the cove and we floated until we were down to fumes watching them play.

Exiting the water is always a bit of a chore but fortunately the steps here are a bit more gradual than our home turf in Laguna.

We also noticed on the way out that there was technically a beach advisory active. This didn't seem to be stopping the mass of people playing in the water and it was a little late to worry about getting sick.

We slogged back up to the jeep and swapped out for the second set of tanks around 11:30 am.

This time we went to skiers left and went our around the corner to Boomers only to find the surge picked up significantly. We came across some interesting underwater rock formations along the way but once again it was the sea lions back near the entry point that ended up being the main attraction.

We burned the rest of our air hanging with our new friends in the shallows and then reluctantly returned to land. We were out of the water by 2pm and after grabbing a quick bite to eat it took several hours fighting traffic to make it back up to Orange County making this a full day excursion.

Next up, we try diving at Crystal Cove! Because why not get a hike in at the same time you're diving...

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