/Leopard Sharks in La Jolla – 3 Hot Spots for Snorkeling
Leopard Sharks in La Jolla – 3 Hot Spots for Snorkeling2019-01-15T20:44:22+00:00
Snorkeling with leopard sharks in La Jolla.

Leopard Sharks in La Jolla – 3 Hot Spots for Snorkeling

The best way to find leopard sharks in La Jolla is by snorkeling out to their favorite spots. During the summer months, La Jolla’s leopard sharks population explodes. Thousands of these beautiful creatures arrive, many females and ready to give birth. Nutrient-rich kelp forests and diverse reefs provide a fantastic food supply. The warm, protected waters of the La Jolla inlet are usually quite calm, so ideal for pupping and as a nursery. Often found in less than ten feet of water, this harmless species is easy to spot from the ocean’s surface. Here we list the best sites to snorkel with leopard sharks in La Jolla and what to look for in each location.

#1 Marine Room Beach

Snorkeling with leopard sharks at Marine Room.

The best spot to go snorkeling with leopard sharks in La Jolla is from the Marine Room beach. This site, in a secluded strip of the ocean, is about a mile south of Scripps Pier on the eastern end of the marine park. Once you enter the water, begin heading to the west, away from the shoreline. Soon you should start spotting the 4 to 5-foot beauties schooling along the sand at depths of 5 to 15 feet. As night hunters, the adults spend their days lounging or swimming along the sandy flats. Also common to this area are stingrays, shovelnose guitarfish, and California halibut. Keep your eyes peeled in the summer months for the beautiful black bat rays.

#2 Leopard Sharks Lane

Snorkel at Leopard Sharks Lane in La Jolla.

Stretching from the south side of the Marine Room all the way to Devils Slide is Leopard Sharks Lane. Start by heading south from the Marine Room past the seawall and the beautiful homes. Here the sandy ocean floor changes to rock. The seagrass covered rocky reef is a favorite birthing area for the females. Pregnant for almost 11 months the moms can have up to 30 pups in each litter. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a baby measuring less than 10 inches and super cute! These reefs are also home to colorful fish including wrasse, surfperch, and Garibaldi. This area of La Jolla’s ocean sanctuary gets very dangerous during large surf. Be sure to explore the lane under the guidance of an expert.

#3 Devil’s Slide in La Jolla

Leopard sharks along Devil's Slide during snorkel.

Nestled below the towering cliffs in the southeast corner of the marine park is Devil’s Slide. Due to its distance from any access point, this site is quite challenging for snorkelers to reach. By autumn a few hundred of the remaining leopard sharks will move to this secluded location. These guys will remain in the La Jolla inlet throughout the next year. These creatures love to swim in the surf line or a few meters outside the wave breaks so this area is ideal. Hunting in groups, over the next few months they will feed on squid, small fish, worms, and eggs. The submerged rocks are also a preferred spot to find spiny lobster and octopus.

6 Helpful Tips For Snorkeling with Leopard Sharks

La Jolla snorkeling with leopard sharks.
  1. Avoid stingrays, always shuffle your feet in the sand when walking into the ocean in La Jolla.
  2. Most of the adults are outside the wave break but still in less than 10 feet of water.
  3. These beauties love swimming near the ocean floor, keep looking down.
  4. Lay still on the ocean surface and let them come to you. Don’t chase these creatures.
  5. Never try to touch them. These guys are very docile but will react when scared or threatened.
  6. No snorkeling gear? Many days you can see leopard sharks if you wade into knee-deep water and look down.