LA JOLLA SEA CAVES
La Jolla Caves
The Seven Sea Caves of La Jolla are a remarkable creation. The composition of hard limestone on our North facing cliffs eroded over 73 million years, leaving us with this natural wonder. This type of cave system is called a Littoral Cave. There are 7 unique sea caves that are filled with local history. Starting on the East (Left Side when viewing from the water)
The Westernmost cave of the La Jolla Cove is the Clam Cave, which is a cavern with multiple entrances and exits. The main entrances make the cavern a popular spot for both kayakers and snorkelers. The position of the cave in La Jolla Cove helps keep it protected from larger surf conditions. If you have rented equipment, you must be on a tour to explore the cavern. Join us on our tours with our expert guides to take you safely through.
The most famous of our 7 sea caves is Sunny Jim’s Cave. It is the only sea cave that has both land and sea access. The cave was originally owned by Gustav Shultz, who owned the home above the cave in the 1900’s. To allow easier access to the cave than the cliff’s side, he hired 2 workers to carve out 138 steps through his living room floor to the back side of the cave. There is a hidden secondary dry cave, about the size of a studio apartment.
Presenting the 2nd deepest sea cave on the Californian Coastline measuring at about 680 ft deep. The most extensive cave in La Jolla cove, considered two of the original seven sea caves of La Jolla. After many years of erosion, the two caves are now connected with only the arch remaining between the two. Filled with different corridors and narrow passages throughout, this area can very hazardous due to active erosion, and is best viewed from water.
Shopping cart is a well known local spot for attracting the Spiny Lobster population, and was famous with local restaurants for trapping during the limited lobster season of October to March. Local restaurants would advertise the local delicacy as the bigger lobsters caught in the Ecological Reserve. There are no longer any traps within the MPA, but you can still find many traps outside the MPA during lobster season. The Shopping Cart Cave being the only true west facing cave, it becomes the commonplace to find lost items at sea due to local underwater currents. Our guides have even found cameras, sandals, and sunglasses while out on the water, so it’s important to keep all belongings securely attached!
The smaller cave next to White Lady is called the Little Sister cave, similar to the shape of the White Lady but much smaller in size. In fact, it’s the smallest of the seven sea caves and it can often be difficult to spot. The best way to see this cave is on the water, with our knowledgeable guides to highlight the locations of the caves.
Before the railroad boom of the 1850’s, a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway, were married in Los Angeles. After the ceremony, the couple took a stagecoach several hours to La Jolla for the seclusion of a hidden gem. The beautiful bride was looking for sea shells near the sea caves when the tide suddenly came in. Her newlywed husband heard a loud scream as she was swept away by the strong current. While searching for her, her brother noticed the far east cave where she was last seen. There he saw a striking resemblance her wearing her white wedding dress. The waves crashing on the cave and the calcite-coated sea anemones looked like the wreath she was wearing the day she lost her life. Since then, the cave has been named “White Lady” in her memory.
Rose Canyon Fault Line
One of the few exposed fault lines in North America can easily be seen on our tours, just east of the White Lady Sea Cave. The Rose Canyon Fault is an extension of the San Andrea’s Fault, traveling through La Jolla to Downtown San Diego. The fault line is the intersection of our softer Sandstone in the East with the much harder Limestone in the West. You can easily spot the fault line where the palm trees appear to be sinking into the ground! Although this fault is over 80 years overdue for an earthquake, the fault is considered a ‘right lateral fault’, meaning that if it were to go off, there is minimal displacement of water, making the kayaks one of the safest place to be if it were to happen.