Looking for the best snorkeling in San Diego? This article lists the best places you can snorkel in San Diego for families and travellers!
The shores of San Diego are home to a plethora of marine life, from the famous La Jolla seals and sea lions to the sharks and rays that sit in the coves.
San Diego is home to La Jolla’s ecological reserve which was established in 1970 to conserve the native marine life of San Diego’s seas.
Due to this, marine life has flourished in La Jolla’s reserve and is now a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts and snorkelers from around the world.
Only 2% of the world’s oceans are protected and preserved by federal and state law, meaning not only is the La Jolla reserve a fantastic place for snorkeling but it’s a very rare place too.
In this piece, we list the best places to snorkel around the San Diego La Jolla area and what amazing marine wildlife you can expect to encounter on your underwater adventure.
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7 Best Snorkeling In San Diego Spots
La Jolla Cove is definitely the most famous of all marine snorkeling spots and tops our list of the best snorkeling in San Diego.
Just north of Mission Bay about 15 miles out of the city center, La Jolla Cove hosts some of the most fascinating wildlife in San Diego.
It’s a great hangout spot for Seals and Sea Lions who spend their time relaxing on nearby rocks but are known to come out into the water to greet snorkelers.
You can also spot California’s ocean fish, the Garibaldi, their bright orange color makes them hard to miss!
If you’re having a lovely beach day and decide that you want to do a spot of snorkeling then just 30 meters out from the La Jolla Shores beach you can find a variety of marine life in the sandy bed.
You’re most likely to see different types of rays, small stingrays and black bat rays that fly beautifully and majestically through the waters.
If you look to the floor you’ll be able to see different types of shellfish also, with many sand crabs, sea snails, and even hermit crabs colonizing the sandy seabed.
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Just west of La Jolla Cove, near Boomer Beach, is the Boomer Kelp Beds. Here, the rocks are smothered by thick kelp and this creates a safe home for the baby harbor seals that you’re sure to bump into.
Schools of small sardines often hang out here in the hundreds creating amazing patterns as they dart around near the surface of the water.
Or if you’re after something a bit bigger, to the west you could spot migrating Gray Whales that make the journey from Canada to Mexico for warmer waters.
A little east of the La Jolla caves is the Devil’s slide reef. This reef is situated right at the bottom of the sea cliffs and can only be recommended to experienced snorkelers due to its rough terrain and inaccessibility.
Once you get to the reef the waters are quite shallow and are home to a fantastic variety of fish including schools of anchovies and the black and white striped, aptly named ZebraFish.
If you look toward the cliffs in underwater caves and rock structures, you’ll be able to spot octopuses making a small home for themselves, and even the brightly colored sea-slug.
Because of its shallow waters and protective reef, Spotted Horn Sharks are even seen when they are mating or giving birth, with the reef being a perfect place for their young to learn to fend for themselves.
The Marine Room beach sits just north of the Devil’s Slide Reef but is much easier to access. Not far from the shore, there are plenty of different underwater terrains and a variety of marine life to accompany them.
Marine Room Beach is a popular hangout spot for large groups of Leopard Sharks, typically being 2 – 5 feet long, the Leopard Shark is quite a small and friendly shark with its name coming from the Leopard spots on its skin.
Around the Leopard Sharks, you will also be able to spot Guitarfish, a strange flatfish that resembles the shape of a guitar. If you snorkel a little south you’ll come to a section of rock covered in seagrass.
Here in this reef, you’ll be able to find Red California Spiny Lobsters, and hidden in the rock formations you may even spot a Moray Eel. However, the Moray Eel is a nocturnal feeder so it’ll be less likely to see them in the daytime.
To the east of La Jolla Cove are the fascinating sandstone cliff formations that line the San Diego coast. Along these cliffs are many small caves that house a variety of fish species.
Different species of Bass and Mackerel can be found here, including the giant sea bass which at maturity will weigh around 60 pounds!
On the north end of the cliff face, you will even be able to spot species of ray, including the electric sting-ray.
When coming up for air, you can look up at the amazing cliff formations and see hundreds of black cormorants nesting on the rocks.
These birds primarily feed on the fish around the sea caves and can dive a whopping 40 meters to catch their dinner!
Seven Central is a little way off from the coast at the edge of the cove and is by far the largest snorkeling area on this list. Its ocean depths vary between around 5 meters and 35 meters.
You won’t see too many fish species out here but there’s still a fantastic reason to come all this way from the shore, sharks.
Seven Central hosts a variety of sharks depending on the season that you are snorkeling. In the summer you’re likely to see schools of Soupfin Sharks that can weigh around 55 pounds and if you’re lucky you may even catch a few Blue Sharks that can weigh up to a whopping 243 pounds!
If you’re there in the spring months it would be more likely that you see the Sevengill Shark arriving for warmer waters.
Well, there you have it, all the options for the best snorkeling in San Diego! Hopefully that helped, but if you want more info, we found you a video below.
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