10 Things You Didn’t Expect to See on Your La Jolla Kayak Tour


La Jolla Kayak tours through the La Jolla Sea Caves

There’s good reason La Jolla is known as “the Jewel” of San Diego. On the surface, you quickly see why its stunning beauty and abundant wildlife make it one of the most photographed coastlines in California. But when you take a closer look, the La Jolla coastline is actually more like a treasure chest full surprises.

Spend some time with us exploring La Jolla by kayak, and you will quickly see that there is so much to discover both above and below the surface.

Here are ten things you didn’t expect to see on your La Jolla Kayak tour:

1. *Cue the Jaws Theme Song*

Although we do very rarely have a great white spotted, before visions of Shark Week start dancing in your head, let us clarify. Every year thousands of harmless leopard sharks make their way to the shallow waters of La Jolla Shores to spawn. These docile creatures cruise along the ocean floor in the shallow water where you will kayak over them for a perfect bird’s eye view. If you want to get a better look, swim with them on our Leopard Shark Snorkel Tour!

leopard shark snorkel tour La Jolla Shores San Diego

2. The Real Life Characters of Dr. Seuss

Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss moved to La Jolla just after WWII where he stayed until he died in 1991. His home, along with the wonderfully imaginative characters from his literature can be seen in La Jolla both from shore and from kayak. For example, what is thought to be the original inspiration for the Lorax tree is located in Scripps Park, La Jolla, near where Dr. Seuss lived. Rather than being part of the imaginary Truffula species, the tree is actually a Monterey Cypress, which are native to the California coast.

3. The Scariest Line in San Diego

The Rose Canyon Fault Line,which has typically been considered stable and has not been active in several hundred years, runs right through the heart of San Diego and ends at the cliffs in La Jolla where it dives down into the ocean. The fault line is considered to be San Diego’s biggest earthquake threat because it runs through very densely populated areas and was recently found to be more volatile than previously thought. The view of the fault from a kayak is spectacular as the tectonic plates butt up against each other to form a jagged crack in the earth.

La Jolla Kayak tours rose canyon fault line

4. Shh! This Way to the Hideout…

Many are familiar with the Seven Sea Caves that line the cliffs of La Jolla. They are carved out of a seventy-five million year old sandstone cliff and are home to a variety of sea life. However, what you may not know is that the caves have been used throughout history by smugglers, pirates, and even bootleggers during prohibition. Although the Clam’s Cave is the only one safe enough for us to go through by kayak, you will also get a good look at the White Lady, Little Sister, Shopping Cart, Sea Surprize, Arch Cave, Sunny Jim’s Cave from the water – just as the pirates did.

5. Ready to Get Sealy?

Although you can see the sea lions of La Jolla from the shore at La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing them up close from the water. As we paddle our kayaks along the cliffs, you will see the sea lions darting under your kayak in the water and basking in the sun on the rocks. Sometimes we see them taking a rest in the caves or barking like dogs at each other over territory. They are typically docile and curious creatures who may even swim along your kayak to check you out. However, as with any wild animal, we recommend giving them their space and not touching or feeding them.

La Jolla kayak tour sea lion

5. The California State Marine Fish

During your kayak tour, take a look down into the kelp beds and you will see bright orange fish slowly swimming around the reef. These vibrant fish are called Garibaldi and as California’s state marine fish, they are abundant in the shallow waters of La Jolla. They are typically 14 inches in length and make a thumping sound (which you can hear underwater on our Kayak and Snorkel Tour!) when disturbed. They are also one of the few fish that use the same nesting site every year.

La Jolla Kayak snorkel tour Garibaldi California State Marine Fish

6. A Man-Made Underwater Park

The La Jolla Underwater park is a 6,000 acre-wide area of ocean floor created by the City of San Diego in 1970. The variation of rocky reef, kelp bed, sand flats, and submarine canyon make it a hotspot for scuba divers, snorkeling and kayaking. What you may not know is that the underwater park contains two artificial reefs created to attract marine life. The first was created in 1964 in 70 feet of water and the second in 1975 at a depth of 40 feet. Explore this man-made underwater park on our Kayak and Snorkel Tour!

la jolla kayak snorkel tour sea turtle

7. If There’s a Whale, There’s a Way

From La Jolla Shores, where we will launch our kayak tour, the sandy ocean bottom slopes out gently until the water reaches about 100 feet deep, where it takes a sudden 500 foot plunge into the La Jolla Canyon. The canyon drops to 600 feet within the park, where the deep ocean waters draw in a rich supply of marine life. During the winter and spring, whales can be seen by kayak as they pass through the canyon to take advantage of these abundant waters on their migration to the warm sea of Cortez in Mexico.

8. One of the World’s Biggest Research Piers

The Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, located on the Campus of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, can easily be seen to the north of our kayak tour. The pier is used for research boat launching and a variety of marine experiments. The pier also pumps about 1.8 million gallons of fresh seawater each day into holding tanks that it then distributes to an array of laboratories and aquaria in the area.

9. The Freshest Calamari on the West Coast

Sounds sexy, right? Although it may not be glamorous, the common market squid (Loligo opalescens) reproduce in a continuous spawning activity that can last for weeks or even months. These “squid runs” can be seen underwater on the floors of the La Jolla Canyon where they cover the floor with their white eggs. During our kayak tour, we often see sea lions with small squid in their mouths as they catch the hatchlings to feast on.

10. Kayak Olympics

Although we wouldn’t recommend it for the newbie kayaker, our La Jolla Kayak tour guides can often be spotted doing headstands, tricks and generally having fun with their tour group. They are full of local trivia, dining tips and they love what they do! Please don’t hesitate to ask them questions and if you’re feeling bold, try a headstand yourself! Just be prepared to get wet when you fall in!

La Jolla Kayak tours crew member handstand on kayak in La Jolla

Now that you know what to expect to see on your La Jolla Kayak tour, here are a few helpful tips to prepare you before you arrive:

  • Parking in La Jolla can get a bit congested, especially during the busy summer months. Plan to allot 15-20 minutes to find parking. An alternative is using a rideshare company to avoid the hassle of finding parking.
  • To avoid crowded parking, book a morning tour before the crowds arrive, or come for our sunset tour for a relaxing end to your day.. We are open 8 a.m. to sunset every day, year-round and weather permitting.
  • As safety is our first priority, entrance to the sea cave on the kayak tours is dependent on weather and tide conditions. Our guides will be sure to communicate the conditions before your tour.
  • Arrive early. We ask that our customers arrive 30 minutes before their reservation time. This will give you time to check-in, get suited up in a life-vest and helmet, and head down to La Jolla Shores with your tour group.
  • La Jolla Kayak is conveniently located amongst fun boutique shops and excellent restaurants for you to enjoy before or after your kayak trip.
  • Do you need recommendations on the best spots to eat in San Diego? Ask our crew, we will share our favorites with you!

La Jolla Kayak crew

We look forward to seeing you out on the water and exploring San Diego’s “Jewel” coast of La Jolla with us. We have kayaks down at the beach waiting for you!


Book Your Kayak Adventure Now!

Questions? Contact us today: (858) 459-1114