San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park – A Scuba Diver’s Dream
Those that love what’s under the water finally have a park catering just to them – the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. With over 6,000 acres of ocean bottom and tidelands to explore, the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park is a scuba diver’s and snorkeler’s dream!
About the Underwater Park
The Underwater Park is comprised of the Ecological Reserve and Marine Life Refuge that span from Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove north across La Jolla Shores to the end of Torrey Pines State Reserve. It is a “look but don’t touch” ecological refuge that has been attracting snorkelers, scuba divers and kayakers since it was founded in the 1970s.
Two artificial reefs make up the park and were created to attract and encourage marine life in the area. The first was built in 1964 near Scripps Canyon, and the second was created in 1975 just offshore from Black’s Beach.
From La Jolla Shores, the bottom eases gently out the ocean. With minimal waves as a result of the reef, this is a great point of entry for divers. The slope gives way to a sudden 500 foot drop into La Jolla Canyon, where an abundance of marine life can be found. Migrating whales can often be found here close to shore.
The Ecological Reserve can be reached most directly by La Jolla Cove, just east of Scripps park. Because it is located within the refuge, there are strict rules against using surfboards, boogie boards, rafts and tubes. There are also boat-free swimming zones. La Jolla Cove is a great way to access the park if you are interested in swimming and exploring the shallows, as relatively calm waters allow you to easily see the ocean floor.
The park borders La Jolla Shores to the north, with a mile-long stretch of beach within the Marine Life Refuge. This is the best launching point for divers and kayakers as there are more relaxed rules and easily accessible terrain. Free parking is located nearby.
Both of these areas are located roughly two miles west of Interstate 5 and near the restaurants and shops of La Jolla to the south.
Many private companies offer scuba, snorkeling and kayaking tours of the underwater park. Most companies have a storefront on nearby Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores.
A 30 foot by 75 foot map of the underwater park was created in 2008. It can be found at the La Jolla Shores beach near the boardwalk between the restrooms and the children’s play area at the south end of Kellogg Park.
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