Snorkeling is an activity that often brings tropical destinations to mind. So, many are surprised to learn that there are several excellent snorkeling spots in San Diego. If you’ve tried snorkeling in well-known spots like Hawaii and Costa Rica, why not try something a little different?
Home to the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, San Diego is one of the must-visit spots for snorkeling enthusiasts, especially if you're into cold-water snorkeling.
Many snorkeling tours in San Diego take advantage of the area's crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. It’s not your typical snorkeling experience, but it's unforgettable nonetheless. While you’re there, why not try some other fun water sports activities?
In this guide to the best snorkeling spots in San Diego, I’ll take a look at the very best places to enjoy the natural beauty of San Diego’s underwater scene.
Let’s dive in!
When to Go Snorkeling in San Diego
The ideal time to go snorkeling in San Diego is in the summer. The water temperature is warm, and you should find good water visibility. It's also the best time to spot some of the fascinating marine life in the area.
You can choose to take a solo snorkeling excursion or book a spot on one or more of the many snorkeling tours available in the area.
For the best experience, you can snorkel in San Diego from June to December. Here’s an overview of the average water temperature in San Diego depending on the time of year:
- May to October: 62°-70°F (16°-21°C)
- November to April: 58°-61°F (14°-16°C)
Marine Encounters When Snorkeling in San Diego
What makes San Diego such a good snorkeling spot? The abundance of wildlife! What San Diego lacks in tropical appeal, it makes up for in marine life. Here are a few of the amazing animals you’ll likely encounter during a San Diego snorkeling tour:
- Leopard sharks: One of the top attractions when snorkeling in San Diego. You’ll see leopard sharks during summer, when you’ll find them even in shallow waters.
- Rays: Also commonly spotted in the summer, but only in select snorkeling spots in San Diego.
- Sea lions: These marine creatures are also only spotted in specific snorkeling sites.
- Sea turtles: You can spot these marine animals in La Jolla throughout the year.
Top 6 Snorkeling Spots in San Diego
One of the most exciting aspects of snorkeling in San Diego is that you'll find many options for pros and beginners alike. So, pack your snorkeling gear and get ready to explore the beauty of San Diego's underwater world!
6. Mission Point Park
The Mission Point Park snorkeling spot is suited for advanced snorkeling enthusiasts. It is accessible via boat and shore. Aside from snorkeling, many people enjoy kayaking and fishing in the area.
When you go snorkeling, you can find rocky reef formations. The best part about this snorkeling site is that it’s always calm. The downside to that is that marine life isn't as diverse.
Since Mission Point Park also features Mission Point Beach, it’s a great place to go if you want to do some swimming or sunbathing.
5. La Jolla Sea Caves
Look no further if you're looking for the best snorkeling in San Diego suited for all experience levels. The sea caves of La Jolla consist of seven caves, most of which are only accessible by boat. They offer some of the most impressive snorkeling in the area.
La Jolla sea caves offer stunning underwater views with incredible light and dark contrasts. Exploring the seven sea caves, you’ll see all kinds of wildlife. It’s also a popular spot for swimming and kayaking.
4. Boomer Beach
Boomer Beach is the best alternative to avoid the crowds at La Jolla Cove. It’s not usually crowded, so you can truly explore and enjoy the marine beauty in the area.
This snorkeling site is suited for advanced snorkelers and excellent swimmers due to the strong currents.
You can access the snorkeling spot via boat or shore. It's one of the best areas in San Diego to spot a sea lion colony. Another highlight of snorkeling at Boomer Beach is the impressive kelp forest formation.
3. Devil’s Slide Reef
One of San Diego's most famous snorkeling spots got its name from the rock slides in the area. It's not the most accessible snorkeling spot, which explains why it isn’t as popular as other snorkeling sites on this list.
But Devil’s Slide Reef boasts one of the most diverse marine life conditions in San Diego. It makes the difficulty of accessing this snorkeling spot worthwhile.
Snorkeling at Devil’s Slide Reef, you’ll see beautiful rocky reef formations. You might even catch a glimpse of the strange and elusive horn shark.
2. La Jolla Cove
You can’t talk about the best snorkeling in San Diego without mentioning La Jolla Cove. It’s one of the best spots for snorkeling in San Diego!
La Jolla Cove offers abundant marine life, including lobsters, bat rays, and various fish species. You're also likely to spot sea lions and seals, especially in the summer. They usually hang out on rock cliffs, but they could also swim close to you!
Book a snorkeling tour in La Jolla Cove in the summer. The water is warm, and you can expect excellent visibility. You will also likely spot a beautiful leopard shark during this time of the year.
3. Turtle Town
Turtle Town is one of the hidden gems in San Diego’s snorkeling scene. It’s suited for advanced enthusiasts as the spot is difficult to access from the shore.
Even though Turtle Town is challenging for casual snorkelers, it’s worth the effort for skilled snorkelers due to the abundance of sea turtles. If you snorkel in late summer or early fall, you'll likely encounter sea turtles. The spot is also known for its rocky reef formations and kelp beds.
Discover Snorkeling in San Diego With Pilot
Snorkeling opens your eyes to the beauty of the underwater world. Everyone should experience it at least once! If you'd like to tour any of these snorkeling spots in San Diego, organize your trip with a reliable travel planner.