Snorkeling with sharks in San Diego.

Snorkeling with Sharks – San Diego’s Top 5 Sites

Snorkeling with sharks in San Diego is super exciting. All the best spots for snorkelers to find sharks are in the La Jolla marine sanctuary. The spring months bring large tope and sevengills to the deep water kelp forests. Smaller horn and leopard sharks enjoy the shallow reefs and sand flats most of the year. Here we list best sites to snorkel with sharks in San Diego and how to access each spot right from the shore in La Jolla.

#1 Marine Room

Marine Room snorkeling with leopard sharks.

In San Diego, the best site to snorkel with sharks is in the shallow ocean along the Marine Room beach. During the summer months, thousands of leopard sharks arrive in the La Jolla area. Many of the new arrivals are female and ready to give birth.

This is the ultimate swim with sharks experience!

Entering from the beach be careful not to step on the small stingrays the hide under the sand near the wave breaks. Swim west over the sandy flats and you can see hundreds of the 4 to 5-foot leopard print creatures. You can also spot shovelnose guitarfish and beautiful black bat rays in this same region. In the autumn, these guys move toward the southern end of La Jolla’s underwater park. Look for them in less than 10 feet of water along the seagrass covered rocky reefs close to Devil’s Slide.

#2 Snorkeling The Ancient Sea Caves

Snorkel near La Jolla sea caves.

The giant sea caves area on the southern end of the ecological reserve is a great place to locate horn sharks. The winter months bring hundreds of this small species to La Jolla. The adorable creatures arrive here to mate and lay their spiral shaped-eggs.

To access the caves enter from the small beach at La Jolla Cove and head east along the cliffs toward Emerald Cove. Here, at depths of less than 30 feet, you should begin to see the adults laying on or swimming near the rock floor. Continuing to the east past the sea lions and the eastern sea caves should bring even more sightings. By autumn most of the cuties have moved to the reefs below the cliffs at the southeastern end of the marine park.

#3 Rock Pile

Topes at Rock Pile in San Diego.

A fantastic place to find tope sharks is in the northern kelp beds at Rock Pile. It’s common to see these sleek predators in the San Diego area throughout the year. But their population explodes in the summer and autumn months. Also known as soupfins, the species is fast, grow up to 5-feet in length with a long pointed snout and super shy.

To reach the site, jump in at La Jolla Cove and then swim about a quarter mile to the north. Here, in the giant kelp forest, where the ocean floor turns rocky is the tope’s favorite spot. The location is also a playground for the baby harbor seals so be sure to bring your camera.

#4 Seven Central Shark Area

Seven Central sharks area.

The hot spot for the broadnose sevengill sharks is in the middle of the marine park at Seven Central. Springtime means the arrival of this deep water apex predator to La Jolla. This big, slow-moving creature comes to the calm, shallow waters of La Jolla to mate and to pup.

The easiest way to access the region is to enter the ocean at La Jolla Cove and then head about half a mile to the north. Here where the northern kelp beds meet the sand flats is the epicenter of the sevengill action. Large schools of sargo and barracuda are also a common sight in this location. In the summer months, these guys often migrate to the east end of the reserve near to turtle town.

#5 La Jolla Shores

Angelshark at La Jolla Shores.

La Jolla Shores, on the eastern side of the marine reserve, is the place to find angelsharks. During the autumn and winter months, the weird looking critters arrive in San Diego. With a flat body that is often mistaken for a ray, this creature can grow to over 5 feet. Because they often bury themselves under the sand to wait for prey these predators are easy to overlook.

Head into the ocean on the south side of Scripps Pier from the beach at Kellogg Park. Once in the water begin snorkeling west toward the La Jolla submarine canyon. This elusive sharks is often swimming or hiding in the region’s sand flats. Giant sheep crabs, hermit crabs, and shrimp are also often spotted in the area.

More information, check out our page Snorkeling in La Jolla – 7 Quick Tips.