Snorkeling in San Diego.

7 Great Spots for Snorkeling in San Diego

Snorkeling in San Diego is fantastic. Sites with the best snorkeling are accessible right from the shore in La Jolla’s marine park. Choose to jump in with sea lions or explore the sea caves. Brave snorkelers can check out the local leopard sharks and stingrays. How about navigating through schools of colorful fish. Or sharing a special ocean moment with a cute baby harbor seal. Here we list the best spots to snorkel in San Diego and what to see in each location. Surprise, all the sites are in La Jolla!

Book A Snorkeling Tour

#1 La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove snorkeling.
Book A Snorkeling Tour

The best snorkeling in San Diego is at La Jolla Cove! Located about 15 miles north of downtown on the west end of the 6,000-acre protected marine sanctuary. La Jolla Cove is accessible from a small beach at the base of the sea cliffs. Head straight out from the steps, and you will find an underwater paradise. Clear waters filled with hundreds of bright orange Garibaldi, the California state ocean fish. Sea lions lounge on nearby rocks and will often join snorkelers to frolic in the waves.

#2 Snorkeling The Seven Sea Caves

San Diego sea caves snorkeling area.

Enormous sea caves line the majestic sandstone cliffs to the east of La Jolla Cove. Dotting the cliffs are hundreds of black cormorants, a fishing bird that can dive to over 40 meters. The shallow waters in front of the caves are a popular cleaning station site for local fish. It’s easy to find dozens of orange señoritas busy grooming the local kelp bass and mackerel. Snorkel north and the red kelp covered rocks will give way to a sandy ocean floor. These sand flats are a favorite spot for halibut and electric rays.

#3 Turtle Town

Snorkel at Turtle Town.

Turtle Town may be San Diego’s best-kept secret. This area, located in the center of the marine sanctuary, is quite challenging to find and access. But if you love sea turtles this is your spot! At ocean depths of less than 10 meters, the turtles glide through the green and red kelp plants. La Jolla is home to full-grown adult turtles as well as juveniles. Most of the year this area is also a fantastic location to see lots of colorful fish.

#4 Marine Room Beach

Snorkel with leopard sharks at the Marine Room.

The Marine Room beach sits on the eastern edge of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve south of La Jolla Shores. Here, only feet from the shore, you can find hundreds of beautiful leopard sharks. It’s also common to see the flat guitarfish laying along this sandy bottom. When snorkeling south along the seawall, the sandy bottom becomes seagrass covered rock. Here, hiding below the rocky reef, are hundreds of red California spiny lobster. Careful, moray eels also love these rocky formations.

#5 Boomers Kelp Beds

Snorkel with seals in the Boomer's kelp.

Just southwest of the La Jolla Cove is the cliffs overlooking an area known as the Boomers kelp beds. About 100 meters offshore the thick kelp grows along jagged underwater walls. This is a great place to spot the baby harbor seals. Just below the surface look for hundreds of small, silver top smelt and sardines. Gray whales, migrating between Canada and Mexico, are often spotted to the west of Boomers.

#6 Devil’s Slide Reef

Snorkel along Devil's Slide reef area.

Devil’s Slide is in the far corner of La Jolla’s protected Marine area. This area, situated at the base of the sea cliffs, is difficult to access for the average snorkeler. These shallow waters are home to thousands of fish including zebra perch and anchovies. Spotted horn sharks both mate and birth along the underwater rock structures. Look into the cracks to find colorful octopus, anemones, and even nudibranchs.

#7 La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores snorkel with sting rays.

Just south of Scripps Pier is Kellogg Park and La Jolla Shores Beach. The best snorkeling is about 30 meters out from this beach. The sandy ocean floor is a great place to see small stingrays as well as black bat rays. Be careful where you step. If you head to the west you will cross the sand dollar beds with thousands of sand dollars. It’s also common to see sand crabs, hermit crabs and sea snails hiding in this area.

Bonus Site: Seven Central