Where to go snorkelling in San Diego

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 25, 2019

San Diego is home to La Jolla, where you’ll find an abundance of marine life and beautiful cliffs to explore with numerous snorkeling sites. Most of the snorkeling in San Diego is done around the waters of La Jolla, but not to worry as the area offers plenty of opportunity to snorkel with seals, fish, corals, and other awesome marine life you don’t normally see so close to the city.

Whether you’re a beginner snorkeler or advanced, a child or an adult, San Diego has lots of snorkeling to be done! Here’s where you can find the best snorkeling in San Diego.

Fish in San Diego:

  • Bass, Bonefish, Catfish, Halibut, Leopard Sharks, Mackerel, Sheepheads, Sturgeons, Sunfish, Swordfish, Yellowtail, and more.

Best places to snorkel in San Diego

Devil’s Slide

Where: La Jolla Cove
Details: Not as dangerous as it sounds but still best suited for advanced snorkelers, this spot features massive rock outcroppings and a unique site for snorkeling in San Diego. In the far corner of La Jolla’s marine reserve, Devil’s Slide is a site at the base of sea cliffs with shallow waters that are home to zebra perch, anchovies, Spotted Horn sharks, and thousands of other fish species. The underwater rock structures are beautiful to explore and look at, and if you peer into all the cracks you might find octopus, anemones, and more.


  • This spot can be complicated and difficult for inexperienced snorkelers. Don’t go beyond your ability just to experience something different – there’s still plenty to love about other San Diego snorkel spots.

La Jolla Cove

Where: San Diego
Details: This is one of America’s most popular snorkelling destinations. With white sands and pristine crystal clear waters, the Cove is protected by cliffs making it a calm and peaceful spot for a snorkel. You can literally jump down the steps and straight into an underwater wonderland. Leopard sharks often frequent the shallow waters in summertime, and the shoreline is something to behold with its jagged cliffs and dark caves. You’ll often see sea lions lounging around on the rocks, and maybe even have the chance to swim with them!


  • Other than sea lions and leopard sharks, keep an eye out for sea turtles, stingrays, and dolphins amongst other marine life.


  • Bathrooms and showers on-site.

La Jolla Shores

Where: La Jolla
Details: Not to be confused with La Jolla Cove, this is another favourite San Diego snorkel site that will take you up close and personal with abundant sea life. Just 30 metres down from La Jolla Shores Beach, you’ll find this snorkel site just south of the Scripps Pier, near Kellogg Park. Snorkeling here will have you swimming above stingrays and Black Bat rays, so always be aware of your surroundings! You’ll also get to enjoy plenty of harmless leopard sharks, crabs, fish, and other sea life.


  • Fancy some sand dollars? You’ll find lots at this snorkel site so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Most of the Leopard Sharks congregate in the shallow waters in front of the Marine Room Restaurant, making this the best entry point during low tide. They do love the shallows, so don’t swim out too far or you’ll miss them!


  • Bathrooms, showers, and picnic areas available.

Seven Sea Caves

Where: La Jolla
Details: About a 5-10 minute swim from La Jolla Cove is this beautiful series of giant underwater sea caves. Carved into majestic sandstone cliffs, these towering caves are a truly unique sight and snorkeling destination. Look out for Black Cormorants, diving birds that can go 40 metres underwater, as well as all the sea lions, orange senoritas, mackerel, bass, electric rays, and more.


  • It can be dark, scary, and unpredictable inside the caves but they are always monitored. That said, exercise caution when exploring the caves and beware of the tides at all times.

Turtle Town

Where: La Jolla
Details: Right in the centre of San Diego’s marine sanctuary is this hidden gem, a small snorkel site that’s absolutely teeming with sea turtles. Finding them is easy if you’re a confident swimmer. Just swim out to the centre of the marine park, where depths are about 10 metres, and look out for all the red and green kelp plants. There you’ll find all the turtles swimming amongst mackerel, seals, small sharks, eels, and lobsters. It’s quite a swim out to this part of the ocean, but enjoy your time and rest along the surface plenty.


  • There are three options for entering the water here, from La Jolla Cove, the Shores, or the Marine Room. The lifeguard towers at La Jolla make the easiest point of entry for beginners.

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