La Jolla Kayak Tours — The Tonic of Wildness (2022)

Written By Signe White

A beautiful, sunny, blue-skied, bird-chirping, crisp-wave day. I was about to embark on my first real activity other than hiking and going to work since I moved to La Jolla in September. A taste of what the world could be (again). Before booking a tour with La Jolla Kayak tours, I checked the high tide schedule for La Jolla Cove. 9:25am. I figured since this was a sea cave tour, high tide would be the best time to go. Otherwise, it would be impossible to actually go into the caves without water in them. I booked the tour for the 10:00am slot, the first tour of the day. At 9:20am, I found one of the last available parking spot at the La Jolla Shores Beach Park (the closest parking spot without a 2 hr limit), and booked it to the place they said to meet at 9:30am. A sign on the door told me WRONG - go down the street to another place. Once there, they gave us wet suits and told us that the changing rooms were closed. Should we… put the wet suits over our clothes? Should I strip naked in the lobby? I had worn clothes that I thought would be reasonable to kayak in, not knowing the wet suit requirement. Finally, I decided to take off everything except my underwear and shimmy into the springsuit wetsuit (aka shorty, aka a wetsuit with just shorts and short sleeves - not full coverage). (I think they assume everyone knows that with a wet suit, you typically wear nothing or only a bathing suit underneath. If I hadn’t snorkeled in a wet suit in Ecuador last year, I would have had no idea.) I put on my helmet, gathered my waterproof cell phone bag with my mask, car key, ID, and credit card (they did offer lockers), and joined the rest of the crew outside… none of whom, it turned out, were wearing wetsuits. Wait, this was optional? After a few more minutes of waiting for some folks to show, we finally got down to the beach and pushed out about 40 minutes past our launch time. There were roughly ~10 kayaks in our group, some tandems, some singles (with people in them, not just lone kayaks).

I just want to say one of the coolest things upfront: when you are out on the water in La Jolla Cove, and look back to the cliffs, that you can actually see exactly where one tectonic plate is sliding underneath another tectonic plate. I am so skeptical of this because it sounds so crazy, but if our guides say it, it must be true? You can see how one of the cliff’s layers swoops downward underneath one that has horizontal layers. Nutty!

Note: most of the pictures below were taken through a layer of wet plastic:

(Video) Rare Footage Shark Attacks Swimmer!!!!!!!!

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A thing I’m learning quickly about California is that at some point when I wasn’t looking, Brazilian swimwear made it up to North America. Ass totally out I reckon is now the norm? Or if not the norm, at least acceptable. You can like, wear your ass-out bathing suit and stroll into the local convenient store next to the beach as long as you have shoes on? It’s a new, golden era.

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There were tons of other kayak companies around that somehow didn’t come up in my Google search. I was actually surprised by how many people were launching boats, bumping elbows trying to get all the kayaks in and out of the ocean. Our guides were chatting it up and joking around with other guides. It also appeared we had some of the only women guides (at least at the time), Maddy (sp?) and Megan (sp?), both of whom, but especially Megan, made me laugh out loud.

The only time I had ever sea-kayaked before was in very calm waters in an inlet on the Kattegat Sea south of Gothenburg in Sweden. This was not that. There were what looked like monster waves to me (although to the surfers there, probably barely anything). As I was waiting to launch, I noticed tandem after tandem wipe out when trying to move past the waves lapping up on the shore. I was getting a little nervous. I had a single kayak. A Very Nice Man who worked for La Jolla Kayak pushed me out into the ocean as far as we both could go (well, as far as he could go), and he told me to stay straight into the waves and paddle hard. Somehow, I went up and over one, safe, up and over another, safe, then the waves spaced out and things became a little calmer.

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There’s a phenomenon that happens with some regularity in my life, in which I am the first person to arrive at a destination, and so I set up shop in where I consider is a reasonable place. Then I wait and assume others will join me. Then the next person comes in and decides to set up shop somewhere else. Then the next person joins them, the next person joins them, and so on. So then by the end, all the group has congregated around the other person and I begrudgingly have to move after someone asks me “Hey, why aren’t you with the group?” Today, I was the first one out and was told that I would need to be the decider of where we congregated out in the water. I found a reasonably good, calm spot in exactly the area I was told, but then other kayakers decided to congregate further away. Cue to me having to paddle over to them and the guides.

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Anyway, once we were out on the water past the shore the tour began. We paddled over ~1 mile out to the cliffs, where we learned about how all houses built along the shoreline are considered condemned (even though people still live there). The shoreline is so sandy, that it crumbles just when you touch it, and homes are very prone to sliding down into the sea. Since La Jolla Cove is a protected marine reserve, and no roads go down to the shoreline (since they can’t be built on such sandy soil), homeowners have to pay a ton of money to assess whether the home that fell off the cliff has damaged the marine reserve in some way. Also, all homeowners are required to have $2 million dollars in their bank accounts and none of their homes are insured. But, as the guides were telling us this, we could see new homes being built. As Megan said, “some people have a lot of dollars but no sense.”

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It was a beautiful view of the cliffs with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of cormorants among them, along with seagulls and pelicans. Unfortunately, we did not go into the seacaves. As it turned out, the caves were not a part of this tour, high tide be darned. Further, because the tide was so high, we weren’t able to see any of the kelp forests. My clever plan had backfired. Another sign from the universe telling me that I should stop trying to prepare so much? That foresight is dumb? Good lesson, universe. I’ll try that next time and let you all know how it goes.

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Some other cool cormorant facts (that I still need to fact-check): apparently they dive on one side of their face so furiously to catch fish that over time, they become blind in one eye. Then they start favoring the other side of their face, so they eventually become blind in both eyes. Then they hang out at the cliffs waiting to die. They can apparently dive like 150 feet into the water? And their bones are really dense so it’s hard for them to take off in flight. Pelicans, on the other hand, fly up to 25 mph into the water but only go about 2 feet deep to catch fish. Maddie claimed that this was the case, but Megan wasn’t buying it. On our paddle back to shore, we passed another guide. The conversation went something like:

Megan: “Hey man, how deep can pelicans dive?”

Other guide: “Hella deep.”

Megan: “Nuh-uh!”

So, the jury is still out on that one.

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So, we did see a ton of cool cormorants, learned about the diving board that used to jut out over the ocean (no longer present, probably the removal of which has saved many lives). Also apparently sea lions were introduced to La Jolla quite recently to try to control the urchin population, which (of course) did not work, and now instead they eat a lot of native fish that are dwindling dangerously in numbers. Turns out the sea lions are a kind of pests, but they have cute babies, so they’re here to stay.

The coolest part of the trip was on the way back. All of a sudden, probably 20-30 feet away, 2 dolphins poked their heads out and we could see almost their whole bodies glide into and out of the water. I heard a stand-up-paddleboarder say, “Those were the teenagers, the whole family is up on ahead a little bit and they’re kind of straggling and doing their own thing.”

Then, oh god, getting back into shore. They told us if we got caught on a wave, to just paddle as fast as we could straight toward the shore, and lean back and make our bodies as flat as possible. Right when I went in, I somehow was on the crest of the biggest wave. My strength was no match for it. I went way up then was slammed down, getting totally drenched. The boat veered sideways but didn't flip. I rode the wave as it took me to shore, but then another one came right after and the same thing happened again. There was no way I could have kept the boat straight, and it pushed my 30-40 feet up the shore away from the other boats. I was shaking with adrenaline. Is that what surfing is like? It’s kind of terrifying. I pulled my boat up to the shore, happy to have been wearing the springsuit.

One thing you don’t want to see after having spent hours in the water is this sign:

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Something our guides said nothing about. Is this also supposed to be common knowledge? Of course, tons of people swim, kayak, stand-up-paddleboard, surf, and fish in La Jolla Cove. The marine reserve that we kayaked atop of is apparently the 2nd most biodiversity reserve on the West coast (the first being Monterrey Bay). Pretty startling that the levels of “bad” bacteria are so high, that is advised to not swim IN A RESERVE.

This is important and worthy of further exploration, so until next time!, when I write more about the actual reserve and the bacterial issues here.

And, for those curious, here is more information about La Jolla Kayaking Tours:

Specifically, I booked the “Original Kayak Tour.” Don’t let the picture of going inside the caves deceive you like they did me :(


Signe White

Explore La Jolla Ecological Reserve's sea caves during a 90-minute kayaking tour. Follow your experienced guide through several diverse ecological habitats, home to one of the highest concentrations of sea life in California. Paddle toward the Seven Sea Caves, where you can get stunning views from inside Emerald Cave, the only north-facing cave in the state (conditions permitting). Explore a giant kelp forest inhabited by wildlife like otters, harbor seals and sea lions. Use of all kayaking equipment is included; no kayaking experience is necessary.

Jesse was an amazing guide and the owner of Everyday California went above and beyond to make sure our family had a great experience kayaking.. If it wasn’t for Phil M. , we would only gave it a three star because the previous guide was late and we had to wait around 30 minutes , but Phil M saved the time problem with his awesome energy and experience and our group was super cool!. Fantastic time with California Everyday and their sea cave kayak tour.. Guides were fun and informative.. Great experience with very kind kayak guides.. First there were way too many kayaks out in the cave area (so many tour companies in the area and they all have about 15 kayaks out there at once).. Our kayak tour was amazing even though we tipped over lol the water was fresh and fun to enjoy definitely recommend it to anybody trying new adventures. Our tour guides were very fun and knowledgeable!

If you like SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, you're sure to enjoy getting up close and personal with some wild San Diego wildlife when you take a La Jolla sea kayak tour.

At the beach, the kayaks are waiting for us and there's a bustle of activity as other tours go in and out, and surfers, standup paddleboarders and scuba divers enjoy the beach on a beautiful summertime Saturday.. Although the surf is small, we watch several members of a returning tour capsize in the surf.. With the help of our own guides, and their caring attention to the elderly man and woman, our group makes it out through the surf zone without incident.. Tucking it safely away again, I follow the guides' instructions and paddle hard and straight toward the beach as a wave picks up my boat from behind.. With 72 golf courses in every conceivable setting from mountains to desert to ocean, it's no wonder Golf Digest named San Diego one of the Top 50 golf destinations in the world.. San Diego’s temperate weather keeping local links in playing condition year-round, so duffers and scratch golfers alike can get their fill of the wide fairways, rolling hills, stunning landscapes and challenging play that awaits players of all skill levels.. Discover. Beaches & BaysLocal tips and information to help you get into the surf. Action sports expert Chris Cote has spent his life in the thick of it, and is here to show you why San Diego is a true paradise of the surf and skate world.. Experience one of San Diego’s largest Military events featuring Military Displays, High Tech equipment in the Innovation Zone, Active Navy & Coast Guard Ship Tours, Live Music, Food, and Fun...

Enjoy some of San Diego's best waters for kayaking and snorkeling during a 2.5-hour tour at La Jolla Cove. Your experienced guide teaches the basics of kayaking and snorkeling in the calm waters of a protected cove. Then paddle in a single or double kayak through La Jolla Caves and look for colorful fish and other marine life as you snorkel in La Jolla Ecological Reserve. Numbers are limited to ten participants on this small-group tour, ensuring a more personalized experience.

Enjoy some of San Diego's best waters for kayaking and snorkeling during a 2.5-hour tour at La Jolla Cove.. Your experienced guide teaches the basics of kayaking and snorkeling in the calm waters of a protected cove.. Then paddle in a single or double kayak through La Jolla Caves and look for colorful fish and other marine life as you snorkel in La Jolla Ecological Reserve.. Kayak and snorkel tour of La Jolla Ecological Reserve in San Diego. Snorkel into the La Jolla Caves (if conditions permit). While still on the sand, your experienced guide teaches you the the basics of paddling a kayak and snorkeling.. Practice your paddling and steering technique in the calm waters of the cove before following your guide through some of the seven sea caves that make up La Jolla Caves.. End your 2.5-hour kayak and snorkel tour back at La Jolla Cove Beach.. Q: What is the policy on sanitization during La Jolla Kayak Rental ?. Q: What is the social distancing policy during La Jolla Kayak Rental ?. Q: What measures are being taken to ensure staff health & safety during La Jolla Kayak Rental ?. Our guides were extremely friendly, knowledgeable about the wildlife and other local areas worth experiencing, and made sure we got to see all of the highlights the La Jolla Ecological Reserve has to offer.. this was an amazing experience we were snorkeling in the cave when right there with us was a sea lion this was such an amazing feeling we loved this tour and we recommend it excellent ,also our 2 tour guide guys were excellent. My problem arose when I saw a family in a kayak flip over and I paddled over to them to help right their kayak and get them back in.. Amazing, long tour make sure you get a good boat with a seat that sits up I received one and could not sit up straight made it very difficult to kayak.

Enjoy the sublime coastal scenery as you spot abundant marine life during this kayaking trip in La Jolla’s sea caves and ecological reserve. Paddle along with your expert naturalist guide as you observe the numerous species of birds, dolphins, sea lions and even orcas that inhabit the area. Also, kayak among the lush kelp beds that grow in the reserve and, if conditions permit, explore inside the sea caves that dot the area’s rocky coastline. This La Jolla caves trip includes all necessary equipment, a life jacket, guide, and optional wetsuit rental.

Great La Jolla sea cave adventure!. Being able to kayak inside the caves and be inches away from sea lions was amazing.. The tour guides had a great energy and made it a great experience!. The tour guides were funny and knowledgeable.. The caves were fun to kayak into.. I found out less than 12 hrs that this activity was cancelled with little to no time to find another activity for my 2 day trip.. We got to kayak through two caves and saw sea life.. The guides were awesome!. Great time!. Our guides were awesome!. Our guides were awesome!

Explore our Ecological Reserve and Seven Sea Caves on a La Jolla kayak tour with Everyday California. Here's what it's like.

I was there for a La Jolla kayak tour of our Ecological Reserve (the protected part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park ) and the Seven Sea Caves.. On the day of my visit, the shop heaved with people gearing up for La Jolla kayaking tours.. Kayaking in La Jolla is one of the best things to do in San Diego because of the La Jolla Underwater Park , a marine sanctuary full of sea life and usually clear water.. The double-bonus is that waves break incredibly gently on to La Jolla Shores beach , where Everyday California tours begin.. These photos of sea life around the La Jolla Underwater Park are courtesy of Everyday California.. If conditions permit, Everyday California guides will help guests paddle inside Clam’s Cave, the only sea cave visible from land.. If you’re headed out on a La Jolla kayak tour in the winter months, a wetsuit—which can also be rented at Everyday California—is a smart option especially if you’re snorkeling.. Have you taken a La Jolla kayak tour?

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