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La Jolla Cove Sea Lions in San Diego

La Jolla Cove sea lions
La Jolla Cove sea lions

When visiting San Diego you will find a great day out at La Jolla Cove. It’s around 30 minutes north of the city where you will find some excellent snorkelling, swimming and above all sea lions!


Parking is a little limited around the Cove and I hear it’s only worse on the weekend, so bear this in mind if you plan to go on a Saturday or Sunday.

We parked for free along the top of Coastal Boulevard, which was a great spot. However, it is on a hill so if you do park here make sure you ‘curb your wheels’, meaning your front wheels are turned into the pavement. If you don’t do this you run the risk of getting a ticket.

The further away from the cove you go the more likely you are to find more free parking. Some of the hotels offer parking as well, but the rates vary. 

Views and Pelicans

By parking at the top of Coastal Boulevard we enjoyed a little walk down the hill towards the cliffs where the sea lions like to hang out. It also offered fantastic views over Goldfish Point and the whole bay.

Pelicans looking out over the bay
Pelicans looking out over the bay

Out along the cliff tops you will spot a fair number of pelicans nesting, grooming and watching out over the water.

Its not hard to be impressed by these sizeable water birds and we spent some time admiring them on the cliff edges before we even got to the seals!

Getting to the Seals

If you’ve ever been around a large amounts of seals or sea lions then you’ll know what I mean when I say La Jolla Cove stinks! Which is great if you’re wanting to see some sea lions as you know they aren’t far away!

First glimpse of the La Jolla Cove sea lions
First glimpse of the La Jolla Cove sea lions

The further down the hill you travel the more pungent the smell, however, funnily enough, it’s all part of the experience. Soon the smell either disappears or it quickly gets forgotten as you encounter your first sea lions!

The Baby Bum is just itching to get out and explore!
The Baby Bum is just itching to get out and explore!

First you’ll see one or two, which is pretty exciting as you try and pick them out against a backdrop of the dark water stained cliffs, which happens to be the same colour as the sea lions shiny coats.

Then, as you continue to walk down the path the amount of sea lions grow in number and pretty soon they are everywhere leisurely sunning themselves on the sandy coloured cliff tops just meters from where you stand. If you look closely out into the breaking waves you will also spot seal lions playfully frolicking in the waves.

Seal lions at La Jolla Cove, San Diego
Seal lions at La Jolla Cove, San Diego

Be Respectful

Although it might be really tempting to try and experience a close encounter with these seemingly harmless animals, there are signs clearly asking you not to get too near.

Remember, these are unpredictable wild animals with babies and teeth, may I add, so it’s best to show them some respect. 

Proud sea lion on the cliffs at La Jolla Cove
Proud sea lion on the cliffs at La Jolla Cove

When we were there the majority of the visitors did just this. However, I did see some people out on the cliffs with the sea lions when we were walking back to the car. It seemed once one person made the decision, others seemed to think it was ok to follow suit.

The signs are there to protect the sea lions and the visitors from harm and above all it is their home after all. The baby sea lions are incredibly cute, but bare in mind your own and your families safety.

We then walked along to the Children’s Pool where we saw sleepy seals sunbathing on the beach laid out like dominoes. We also took the opportunity to use the facilities. There are also loos nearer the cove end so if your travelling with children you are pretty well covered in the toilet department.

Seals at the Children's Pool
Seals at the Children’s Pool

There are also plenty of picnic spots in case you wanted to take some food and spend some time there. The views out to sea and along the coast are pretty fabulous too.

Our chosen picnic spot under the twisty trees
Our chosen picnic spot under the twisty trees

Other things to do at La Jolla Cove

We were only here for a couple of hours, mainly see the sea lions and seals, so this is as much as we did. However, there were lots of people swimming and using the beaches in and around the cove and the coastal walk continued past the Children’s Pool.

The view towards the Children's Pool to see the seals
The view towards the Children’s Pool to see the seals

Note that the Children’s Pool is closed from December to May as it has become the Seals favourite place to breed!

Lifeguard box at La Jolla Cove

We really enjoyed our lunchtime stop at La Jolla Cove! The views, the smell, the pelicans, sea lions and seals are a memory we will all keep with us.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Honestly Holly

    I think the life of a seal is a pretty good deal! They look so majestic. San Diego is on my American Road Trip Bucket List! Will be sure to go see these beauties if we ever make it!

  2. Anaïs N.

    Great post and those pictures are absolutely STUNNING !!!!
    i’ve never been to San Diego but you defo made me want to go even more haha

    Anaïs |

    1. Jayne1

      La Jolla Cove is a lovely day out and yes, you can get some stunning pictures so remember your camera!

  3. In Asian Spaces

    If I ever visit California again sometime soon, I’ll have to visit La Jolla Cove. I love seals (=

  4. foloren torium

    Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending way to much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

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