Best Places To Snorkel In San Diego

Diving and snorkeling are two activities that can turn a good vacation into an amazing one. You can use snorkel to see the life of water and get close to the coral reefs. You can also use snorkeling to spot marine life without the hassle of buying scuba gear.

Snorkeling in San Diego is a wonderful experience in Southern California. The waters are clear, calm and warm. The city is home to over 100 beaches, which means it should be easy to find a spot on the water during any time of year. There are some great spots in La Jolla, Sunset Cliffs and Torrey Pines to name a few. We will base our discussion today on – Best Places To Snorkel In San Diego. But, other resources which you can find on our website include some frequently asked questions such as: turtle town san diego and best time to snorkel in san diego

Best time to snorkel in San Diego

It’s never a bad time to snorkel in San Diego.

Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and whether you’re looking to get up close with some of the local marine life or just want to see some fish without having to swim too far out, there are plenty of opportunities for snorkeling.

The best time to go snorkeling depends on what you’re looking for—if you want to see seals or sea lions, summer is probably your best bet. If you’re interested in seeing sharks or other large fish, spring or fall will give you better weather conditions (and fewer crowds). And if you want to see lots of different kinds of fish in one place, any time between May and October will work well.

Snorkeling is a fun activity for all ages, and it’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of San Diego’s underwater world.

If you’re looking to snorkel in San Diego, make sure you do it during the day. The best time for snorkeling is usually between 9 am and 3 pm. That’s when the water is at its warmest, which makes it more comfortable for you and better for the fish! And if there was any unrest in the waters overnight, it usually settles down by this time as well.

Best Places To Snorkel In San Diego

San Diego is known for its great beaches, but did you know that it’s also a haven for snorkelers? The waters off San Diego are filled with marine life and beautiful scenery, making it the perfect place to take a dip. If you’re looking for places to snorkel in San Diego, look no further—here are the best spots!

1. La Jolla Cove

The cove is hands-down the best place to snorkel at San Diego. It is accessible through a small beach located at the sea cliffs. When the waters are clear, you can see hundreds of orange garibaldi and many more fishes swimming around. The sea lions from the shores occasionally accompany the snorkelers on their adventures as well!

2. Marine room

The beach is located to the south of the LA Jolla shores towards the east of the La Jolla ecological reserve. Only a few feet away from the shore you can see beautiful leopard sharks swimming underneath. Around the rocks and reefs at the bottom, you can also spot California spiny lobsters, beware of the eels who also love hiding around the nooks of the reefs.

3. Mission bay

The extremely calm and shallow waters of Mission Bay are ideal for kids and beginners. Mission bay also has a beach for over 20 miles where the whole family can relax and enjoy. Here you can spot a variety of small fishes and also invertebrates like sea urchins, slugs, octopus and starfishes 

4. La Jolla Shore

The location is on the same beach stretch as La Jolla Cove. Approximately 30 meters in from the beach are few of the best snorkelling spots. It is the best spot for swimmers of all levels. The spot is a host to leopard sharks but the sandy floor is host to stingrays, black bat rays, sand crabs, hermit crabs and sea snails too so be sure to check before you put your foot down!

5. Devil’s slide and sea lion caves

The spot is located off the coast of the seven sea caves. The location is maybe slightly difficult for inexperienced and first-time snorkelers to get to. If you look just below the surface of the water you’d see sea lions playing and swimming around. Rays, octopus and zebra perch are also a common sight. If you are lucky you just might spot a horn shark around the rock hedges.

6. Turtle town

If you are a turtle lover, this is a must-explore spot! The spot is a little difficult to find as it is located at the centre of the marine sanctuary. For most of the year, the location is home to multiple varieties of colourful fish. At less than ten metres ocean depth you can spot the red and green kelp plants which are home to adult and juvenile turtles alike.

7. Shell Beach and boomers

This beach attracts lesser crowds than the others in San Diego but it is a beautiful place to collect shells and snorkel of course! Entering the waters here can be dangerous for inexperienced swimmers. The snorkel heads and swimmers are up for a treat as the location is home to majestic sea lions and grey whales as well! It is definitely one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets.

Turtle Town snorkeling San Diego

Turtle Town is one of the coolest spots for snorkeling in San Diego, and it is somewhat of a hidden gem. The area is located in the center of the marine sanctuary, and has an ocean depth of around ten meters. Once you reach the area, you will be greeted by some of the coolest marine life out there – Sea turtles!

The most common species you will see are green sea turtles. They are very easy to spot because they are large and have a distinctive shell shape. They also have a darker green color than other sea turtles, which makes them easy to identify. The green sea turtle is also known as “honu”. Honu can live up to 80 years old! You may also see some hawksbill sea turtles, which are smaller than green sea turtles but have a similar shell shape.

You can visit Turtle Town any time during summer months (May through October) or winter months (November through April).

We’re Turtle Town snorkeling San Diego, and we want to help you experience the best that Southern California has to offer!

Our goal is to make sure that every one of our guests gets a fantastic experience every time they come out with us—whether they’re experienced snorkelers or just trying it out for the first time. We’ll work with you to find the right location and time for your group, and we’ll even help you figure out what kind of equipment you need before you head out on the water.

From there, all we ask is that you follow a few simple guidelines:

-Make sure to bring your own mask, fins, and snorkel—we provide everything else (a mask/fins set can typically be found at any sporting goods store).

-We recommend wearing a t-shirt or rash guard over your bathing suit when you get in the water—it will help protect against cuts from coral or shells. You can rent them from us if needed!

-We also recommend bringing sunscreen and plenty of drinking water with you on your trip!

Mission Bay snorkeling

Mission Bay snorkeling is a great way to see the wildlife of Mission Bay without getting in the water. The bay is full of fish, sea turtles, and other sea creatures that you can see with a pair of binoculars or your own eyes.

The best part about snorkeling in Mission Bay is that it’s so easy! You don’t even need to put on a wetsuit—just throw on some flip flops and grab a mask and snorkel from home before you head out, then hit the water when you get there.

There are plenty of different spots around Mission Bay where you can go snorkeling: from Fiesta Island to Fiesta Island Pier, from Belmont Park to the bridge near Sea World, or even from Black’s Beach if you’re feeling adventurous enough!

Mission Bay is the perfect place for families to enjoy the water. The extremely calm and shallow waters are ideal for kids and beginners, and you’ll also find a beach for over 20 miles where the whole family can relax and enjoy. You can spot a variety of small fishes and invertebrates like sea urchins, slugs, octopus and starfishes.

Mission Point Park/Mission Point Beach in the southwest corner of Mission Bay is the place for snorkeling. This is a great area for beginners as snorkeling can be done in waist deep water. The snorkeling is done along the rocks that form the point from the beach.

The best places to snorkel in San Diego are La Jolla Cove, Spanish Landing Park, and Torrey Pines State Beach.

There are many beautiful places to snorkel in San Diego, but these three have been ranked among the top spots by locals and visitors alike. The great thing about all of these locations is that they are easy to get to, so you can spend more time enjoying yourself and less time trying to find a parking spot!

Sea Turtles in La Jolla – The Secret Snorkeling Spot

We know a secret snorkeling area in San Diego. Here red kelp grows on a rocky reef, and the water is shallow, and sea turtles make their appearance. This place, called Turtle Town by the La Jolla locals who know the site, is fantastic.

Warmer water means more turtle surprises

Many who frequent the waters of San Diego look at me in disbelief when I say I saw the turtles today. I tell them it is not a mystical sea creature, but that we do have these green beauties in our chilly waters off the coast. If the person continues to be skeptical, I just open my phone. I scroll through the many photos we have taken of these creatures. It is a long swim to get to the special place where they love to hang around but worth it. Most of the ocean here is part of the protected ecological reserve and underwater Marine Park. To access the area you have three choices of where to enter the water, the Cove, Shores or Marine Room. We prefer the Marine Room. But sometimes water conditions make one of the other locations a better option. If you’re new here, be sure to enter near a lifeguard tower. There are towers near the main beach at both La Jolla Shores and Cove. It is always advised to check to be sure conditions are safe to enter.

La Jolla’s entire protected marine area is beautiful

Turtle Tours Not Available | See Other Snorkeling Tours

As you start to head away from shore, it may be hard to find our handsome guys. The location covers such a large space. Enjoy the area while you search. Just stop and just float on the surface now and then. Take in the view of our majestic cliffs that surround most of the ocean inlet. The La Jolla marine park has a vast array of underwater life. Mackerel, seals, and cute sharks. While you make your way over to the site, check out the bright orange Garibaldi. This handsome guy is our California state fish. Take a peek under the rocks along the ocean floor to get a glimpse of our adorable California spiny lobsters. Keep an eye peeled for our big green moray eels. They love to poke their heads up from secluded hiding spots as you pass. Enjoy our underwater site and cliffs. Even if you don’t find turtles, you will still enjoy the beautiful marine park.

Photo of Stephanie free in San Diego ocean.
Close image of cute green guy.

Snorkeling myth or reality

Most of the turtles we have seen off La Jolla have medium to dark brown shells. The individuals can grow to over 5 feet long and weigh upwards of 400 pounds. Our residents vary in size with the smallest being a cute guy around 15 lbs. The largest must weigh well over 200 pounds. We often see them along the sea cliffs. There are a couple that visited over the last couple years. We get to know them by the markings on their shells. But in the last year, we have had quite a few new visitors.

Lately, the best time of year to find our turtles is pretty much anytime. It used to be that late summer and early autumn was the best time. Because of the recent warm water phenomena we have had a least one or two around the entire year for the past two years. We are keeping or fingers crossed that they just decide to move here.

The best time of day to go is anytime the ocean is beautiful and calm. We have more sightings in the afternoons than mornings. But this may be due to the ocean being a bit clearer as the day goes on.

The best way to experience these guys is either freediving or just snorkeling at the surface. Since you are at the surface more, you have the opportunity to see them pop their head above the water. Or see them underneath. Once you find one of the residents, it is easy to swim with them or watch them eat. Their favorite food is the red kelp that grows along the bottom so keep an looking for this colorful plant.

The coolest thing about the green turtles is they are not afraid of people. Swimming through sea grass without a care in the world. Their proximity makes for an easy photo opportunity. There is nothing more exciting than to be swimming along with one. Either on the ground chomping away at the kelp, or swimming near the surface for a breath of air.

Over the last couple years, the population in La Jolla has grown. Encounters with turtles are becoming more frequent. So find a San Diego local who knows the secret spot. Grab your gear and get out there to experience our amazing friends for yourself.

Great underwater view of La Jolla.
Sea turtles in grass with Stephanie.

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