Explore La Jolla’s 7 Caves by Kayak

What are the Seven Caves in La Jolla? Can you rent a kayak tour of La Jolla’s Seven Caves? Here’s what you need to know about kayaking the 7 caves in La Jolla,  plus how to get a discount kayak tour in La Jolla, and more.

Even though we only go kayaking occasionally, my favorite place is in La Jolla, CA, whenever we head down to the San Diego area. We especially love the 7 Caves tour.

Below you’ll find my recommendations for where to book La Jolla kayak tours (best price), the names and brief descriptions of La Jolla’s Seven Sea Caves, and where to dine and stay while you’re in La Jolla. Taking a kayak tour of the Seven Caves in La Jolla is an experience like no other.

Part of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, you’ll get up-close views of the sea cliffs, the sandstone caves, and beautiful marine life, like leopard sharks (friendly), and sea lions, that you can only see this by kayak. It’s easy, even if you don’t have previous paddling experience.

What Are La Jolla’s Seven Sea Caves?

The Seven Sea Caves of La Jolla are situated in million year old sandstone cliffs. Known as “littoral caves,” the seven unique sea caves are accessible by kayaking or snorkeling. The cave called Sunny Jim is the only one you can tour on foot.

From east to west, the Seven Caves are named: White Lady, Little Sister, Shopping Cart, Sea Surprize, Arch Cave, Sunny Jim Cave, and Clam’s Cave.

White Lady Cave

White Lady Cave is named after the tragic death of a young bride in the 1850s. A young newly married couple, the Hathaways drove from Los Angeles to La Jolla for a secluded getaway. The bride was looking for sea shells near the sea caves when the tide surged in and swept her away.

While searching for her, the bride’s brother saw a resemblance of her in her white wedding dress in the sandstone cave where her husband last saw her.

Little Sister Cave

Next to White Lady, and similar in shape, is a smaller cave called the Little Sister. Little Sister Cave is so small you might miss it entirely. If you’re taking a tour, your guide should point this one out.

Shopping Cart Cave

Shopping Cart Cave was once a well-known Spiny Lobsters hangout, making it a popular “shopping” spot for local restaurants. Alas, lobster traps are no longer allowed within this Marine Protected Area.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other areas nearby for catching lobster during the season.

The Shopping Cart Cave faces due west, so the strong underwater currents tend to pull lost sunglasses, cameras, and other lost tourist items into its “cart.”

Sea Surprize Cave

Sea Surprize offers mysterious “surprises” for explorers who venture inside its expansive 80 feet of passageways. Some say the interior of the cave features orange flow stone streaks above a crystal pool full of calcite-coated sea anemones.

Arch Cave

Arch cave is the most complex, and the second deepest sea cave on the Californian Coastline. It features six shallow radiating tunnels.

The narrow entrance and extensive erosion make this cave a hazardous closeup and is best viewed from the water.

Sunny Jim’s Cave

Sunny Jim’s Cave is the most visited, probably because you can view the cave by foot through The Cave Store (for a small fee), or from the sea by kayak or snorkel tour.

From the Cave Store, you’ll walk down 145 steps and find an amazing view out to sea from inside the cave.

View from within the Sunny Jim Cave

The stairs were originally carved by workers hired by the previous owner, Gustav Shultz, who lived in the house above the cave in the early 1900’s. He had the steps carved through his living room floor to the back side of the cave.

When Shultz died, the mafia began using Sunny Jim’s cave to bring whiskey to San Diego during prohibition.

Clam Cave

Of all the seven caves, Clam Cave is the only one you can see from land. Its name comes from the unusual double-sided entrance that resembles a clam shell.

The cavernous Clam Cave features multiple points of entry and exit. The wide main entrances make the cavern popular with kayakers and snorkelers.

3 Places To Curb Those Post Kayak Munchies

If you’re like me, kayaking the cove will make you hungry. Here are three restaurants in La Jolla to grab some grub and relax after a day on the water.

George’s at the Cove

My fave for lunch outdoors on the patio, with good food in a gorgeous setting. Also great for a romantic dinner. George’s Bar has a relaxed indoor/outdoor feel. Location: 1250 Prospect St, Ste 110, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037.

The Baked Bear

Cool off with an ice cream sandwich, or get one of their warm brownies or cookies. You can actually create your own ice cream cookie sandwich. Perfect way to cool off after a day at the beach. Location: 4516 Mission Blvd., La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92109.

El Pescador Fish Market

When in San Diego you must eat seafood, be it fish burritos to ceviche tacos. This place is always busy and popular with locals. Order at the counter, grab a cold beer and find a seat at one of the high tops or long communal tables. Location: 634 Pearl St, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037.

Top-rated Hotels In La Jolla

If you’re staying over in La Jolla and looking for great value, these are my top 3 picks.

Find user review and booking info on TripAdvisor’s La Jolla Hotels page.

La Valencia Hotel{Personal Favourite}

My fave, with amazing ocean views, Charming updated 1920s hotel. Almost don’t want to share my secret spot, but since you asked. Even locals go to this hotel’s restaurant. Nice wine is available by the glass. And the barbecue buffet is amazing.

Location: 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037.

Pantai Inn{Best for Families} 

Great ocean views, free breakfast, and nice grounds. Across the street from the beach. I like this one for families because of the kitchen and dining areas. Comfortable bed and big TV.

La Jolla Cove Suites{Convenient}

Some rooms have balconies with views of the cove. We had a kitchen, so this one’s also great for families. Pool and large Jacuzzi. Easy to walk to everything fun.

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