Best Snorkeling Beaches In San Diego, California

The Grom Life is an independent publisher. You will not find paid product promotions or sponsored content on this site. You will find affiliate links which means we may earn a commission if you purchase through these links.

California is known for its spectacular coastlines and incredible ocean life. San Diego is no exception in this regard, and it boasts arguably some of the best snorkeling areas in the entire state. The majority of the snorkeling in San Diego happens in the La Jolla Marine Park.

La Jolla Marine Park in San Diego is a six thousand acre underwater reserve that boasts countless unique microhabitats as well as picturesque caves. This marine park is a world renowned biodiverse ecosystems and features numerous spectacular snorkeling spots for every level of snorkeler.

A visit to La Jolla Marine Park assures every snorkeling enthusiast of breathtaking underwater scenery and countless areas to explore. This region is well known for having some of the best snorkeling spots in the world, with a range of difficulty levels. This means that the whole family will be able to enjoy everything that this unique natural oasis has to offer.

Snorkeling In San Diego, CA

Directly accessible from the shore in the La Jolla Marine Park is an array of incredible snorkeling spots that are known across the globe. La Jolla Marine Park is known for having some of the best snorkeling spots in the entire United States.

This six thousand acre underwater reserve is brimming with sea life. Known as one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the entire world, La Jolla Marine Park features countless unique microhabitats of fascinating marine life, as well as numerous coves that can be explored at will.

Some of the marine life that can be seen here includes sea lions, leopard sharks, stingrays, and harbor seals. Migrant whales, dolphins, and sharks also frequent the area at certain times of the year and can be seen in the reserve. Pelicans and cormorants grace the cliffs in the area, further adding to the biodiversity.

Besides the warm water that attracts countless tourists to explore the reserve, La Jolla Marine Park boasts some incredible sea caves to explore, as well as a vast underwater canyon and graveyard.

San Diego is possibly one of the best destinations you can choose to explore in your snorkeling adventures.

Marine Room Beach

Marine Room Beach is home to the beautiful leopard shark that swims only a few feet from the shore. Leopard sharks are bottom feeders that are known for being docile with humans, so you can enter the water without fear.

Amongst the rocks and reefs on the ocean floor, you will find California spiny lobsters as well as eels.

Seven Sea Caves

The Seven Sea Caves are a series of majestic caves in the sandstone cliffs near La Jolla Cove. While cormorants can be seen sitting along the edges of the cliffs, electric rays and halibut can be found underwater.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove was rated one of the top ten places to snorkel in the world. It’s easy to see why! This breathtaking cove boasts lush underwater gardens and rock formations that will keep any snorkeler entertained for hours.

The marine life in this area consists of garibaldi, sea lions, sea stars, and anemones. There’s even the possibility to see dolphins and green sea turtles on the odd occasion. The La Jolla Cove is considered one of the best spots to see a variety of marine animals in their natural habitat.

The sea lions here enjoy lounging on the rocks around the cove and have a tendency to join the snorkelers in the water, further adding to the experience.

The waters here are typically calm and tranquil, making for excellent snorkeling as well as kayaking or swimming.

Devil’s Slide Reef

Devil’s Slide Reef and the Sea Lion Caves are situated just near the base of the Seven Seas Caves. Below the surface of the water, you will find sea lions, octopus, rays, and countless zebra perch. Spotted Horn Sharks are also seen here on occasion, and these can be quite fascinating to witness.

These sharks mate and give birth along the underwater rock structures, making for a fascinating snorkeling experience if timed correctly.

Turtle Town

Turtle Town is an incredibly memorable and somewhat unusual snorkeling spot located in the middle of the reserve. It can be difficult to find and access this fascinating spot. However, once you find your way there, you may be lucky enough to find the Green Sea Turtles for which the area is renowned.

Besides the Green Sea Turtles, you will find seals, colorful fish, and dozens of small sharks amongst the kelp, all at depths around thirty feet.

Boomers Kelp Beds & Shell Beach

The Boomers Kelp Beds and Shell Beach are two San Diego beaches situated right next to one another. The waves here tend to be rather hard-hitting, making it dangerous for swimmers with less experience, but this is still an excellent snorkeling spot.

Some of the marine life to be seen here includes harbor seals, Grey Whales, and sea lions.

Mission Bay

Mission Bay is an extremely relaxed cove featuring around twenty miles of beaches, making for a family-friendly outing. This is the ideal spot for beginner snorkelers (or children) to safely explore the waters.

Bear in mind that the water here tends to be colder than other areas of the reserve, and so a wetsuit may be necessary.

La Jolla Shores

In order to find the best snorkeling here, you will need to swim out around thirty meters from the shore. Along the sandy ocean floor, you will find an abundance of stingrays and black bat rays. Just west of this beach are the sand dollar beds, where you can find an abundance of sand dollars as well as sand crabs, sea snails, and hermit crabs.

La Jolla Shores is also home to the migratory Leopard Sharks that live there during summer. Leopard Shark snorkel tours are offered here to allow visitors to see the sharks up close. Because the waters here are calm, this snorkeling spot is suitable for swimmers of any skill level.


Whether you are a total novice at snorkeling or a seasoned professional, San Diego – in particular, La Jolla – offers countless options for exploring the incredible marine biodiversity synonymous with the area.