by LAINEY KRAL

Snorkeling San Diego

San Diegans don’t have to travel far to discover a whole new world this summer – we live just a splash away from two unique snorkeling spots. La Jolla has something to see under the sea for novices and experts alike.

If you don’t have gear, there are plenty of local places to buy or rent from. A snorkel and mask are the basic essentials. Make sure the mask fits and feels comfortable. It should seal tightly to your face without requiring you to overtighten the strap. Optional equipment includes fins for greater speed and maneuverability, snorkeling vests for some extra buoyancy, and wetsuits for colder waters.
Snorkeling novices may choose to sign up for a tour or class to get some in-person instruction. If you’re going out with just your family, you should check in with the lifeguards when you get to the beach and ask about the current water conditions.

La Jolla Cove is a favorite snorkeling destination, with three distinct areas to explore. Straight out from the south end of the cove are kelp beds teaming with fish. Up the coast to the north is a series of sea caves, best visible in low tide. Advanced snorkelers can swim into the caves, but be careful of unexpected wave surges. The middle of the cove is the most popular spot for snorkeling. The wide variety of fish are used to people and will often swim up close. Look out for the California state fish – the bright orange Garibaldi. You may also spot rays, sea slugs, urchins, or other aquatic creatures.

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Right down the coast is La Jolla Shores. For most of the year there’s little to see at this beach besides sand, but every summer La Jolla Shores becomes a nursing ground for hundreds of distinctively spotted leopard sharks. Unless you happen to be a small crustacean or mollusk, it’s perfectly safe to swim out among them. The visibility can be low with the waves stirring up sand, and the sharks are easiest to spot just when the visibility starts to improve. Swim straight out from The Marine Room restaurant until you reach a depth of four to five feet, then keep swimming to the left and right. Move slowly to avoid scaring them off. While the sharks can be found as early as June, their numbers will peak between August and September.