Welcome to “The Jewel”. If you come out for a visit, we have beaches all up and down the coast, each with a different feel and activity level. I’ll take you on a trip to four of ours, starting with a very popular international destination. La Jolla Shores has plenty of parking, a brand new lifeguard facility, kid’s playground, good bathrooms, showers, lots of grassy area and lots of groomed sand. It sits in a large cove, making the whole area flat, surrounded by the rolling bluffs of town around it. There is a spacious feel, a wonderful view in all directions, and a flat, gentle ocean that invites all ages out for a dip.
Because of the smaller waves, this is the place where groups take surfing lessons, scuba diving, and kayak tours. You will see paddle boarders, swimmers, and snorkelers out by the buoys, and usually seals, sea lions, dolphins, or the seasonal leopard shark communities. If you pop on a mask and go out to join them, you will discover sting rays on the bottom, corbina and other local fish along side of you. Keep floating south toward the reefs and you may even find Garibaldi. The entire area is an ecological reserve; it’s illegal to remove any marine life.
Lounge on the beach with me facing the ocean and glance left, to the south. You will see tiny La Jolla Cove tucked into the point of land that thrusts from the coastline. Those folks had a ridiculous time finding a parking space and then hiked down the stairs into the Cove, which is crowded, especially during high tide which pushes all the humans up against the bluff but they are not going to leave because, darn it, they finally have a parking space up there. If you find yourself over there, pack all your gear back into your car (ignore all the other cars stalking you, wondering if you might be leaving so THEY can have your spot. It’s mean to linger and tease them!). Take your camera and walk along the bluff top south towards Seal Beach and you will have lovely views, and some nice grassy areas that you could enjoy. If all the kids in the whole world weren’t having their birthday parties there, that is.
Sit up and follow the hilltops visually along to the southeast behind us and you’ll see the tall cross on Mount Soledad. It’s a short drive there and the view is worth it. Continuing in our circular tour, you’ll see ba-zillion dollar mansions all over the hillsides from south to north. They have nice views, eh? Pick out which one you want to live in someday. The one obviously calling your name. Then remember to make a ba-zillion dollars when you go back home so you can retire here. Then ask me over for tea.
The campus for UCSD has many buildings around the area, and some can be seen as you hit the north end of our view. The Scripps Institute for Oceanography sits there and stretches out a long pier into the Pacific for their research needs. You can walk down there later and observe college students observing barnacle “habitats” living on the pier footings. The students and the barnacles appear to have identical energy levels. Just saying. The college accounts for all of the young adults lying around out here “studying”, and their parents from around the world, who are out for a visit. It’s common to hear different languages and accents spoken on this beach.
At this point, you’ve probably noticed something really awesome. No, not the co-eds! The bluffs to the north take a radical turn skyward and leaping from their heights are hang gliders. You can drive up there and watch them from above, listening to the shrieks and joining in on them, but I prefer the view from right where we are. They float along like dandelion puffs and I don’t have to see how close to smashing into the cliffs they come or hear the unintelligible obscenities or even the blissful, awestruck look on their faces as they become one with the sky, the view, and the….I’m sorry, HOW do they land those things? In the water? On the beach? Back onto the bluff? I have never seen one land. Perhaps they have been up there for years, the same guys, living off rainfall and randomly captured seagulls. I don’t want to know.
I probably will never know because the beach directly below that cliff is Black’s Beach, an infamous nude beach that you have to get down maybe 3,000 steps from the bluff to access. I suppose if you’re a local and go frequently, the exercise has you in good enough shape to toss your garments, but I’m never going to be curious enough to find out.
Wait, where are you going? I took you to this beach! Hey, come back!