What It’s Like to Kayak with Everyday California in La Jolla
A fun and easy way to tour La Jolla's unique underwater marine park.
“Conditions haven’t been this perfect in a long time,” I overheard while hurrying into Everyday California. I was there for a hosted La Jolla kayak tour of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve (the protected part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park) and the Seven Sea Caves.
Everyday California is a lifestyle that respects the ocean, the sun, and the local community. It’s adventurous, sassy and even health-conscious. Aside from tours, they offer a variety of water sports rentals and trendy California-made apparel in their retail shop.
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La Jolla Kayak Tour Arrival
On the day of my visit, the shop heaved with people gearing up for La Jolla kayak tours. And, because you do have to gear up and receive some instruction, plan to arrive about 30 minutes early and don’t be in a rush (like I was) to depart.
The vibe in La Jolla Shores is one of my favorites and since you’re there already, why not eat at one of the area’s fabulous restaurants?
Everyday California provides lockers for storing valuables and also sells cell phone covers, in case you’d like to have a camera while in the water. I’d recommend bringing a waterproof camera, for sure. Other than sunglasses, you won’t want to bring anything else into the kayak with you.
Heading Out to Sea
Kayaking in La Jolla is one of the best things to do in San Diego because of the La Jolla Underwater Park, a marine sanctuary that is full of sea life and usually clear water. Whales can be seen during seasonal migrations as well as our leopard sharks and state fish, the Garibaldi.
The double-bonus is that waves break incredibly gently on to La Jolla Shores beach, where Everyday California tours begin.
We ditched our shoes in a scouts-honor shoe parking area and proceeded to receive a quick paddling tutorial from our ever-so-cheerful and fabulous guides. Kayaks and paddles arrive at the beach by truck, so all you have to do is walk yourself a few blocks from the shop to the sand.
Then, it was time to get in. My friend, Anna, and I hopped into our two-seater kayak (that also has a lower backrest which I appreciated tremendously) in knee-deep water and paddled out to sea.
Once everyone was in the water, our guides led us to the sea caves, stopping along the way to point out some of the fabulous waterfront homes, related Dr. Seuss trivia, and other fun tidbits.
Visible Sea Life
I had a GoPro camera attached to a short waterproof handle but wish that I’d brought a much longer pole.
The water was so clear and warm that I probably could have captured much more than I did. These photos of sea life around the La Jolla Underwater Park are courtesy of Everyday California.
Since you’re looking from the kayak down into the water, orange garibaldi fish (California’s state fish) are very easy to spot as are some other smaller fish swimming near the surface.
The La Jolla sea lions and seals are hard to miss, and if you’re lucky, they’ll be in the water with you.
Rays, guitarfish and other sea life will be more difficult to spot from above the water but do keep an eye out. Harmless leopard sharks were visible in shallow waters as we headed back into La Jolla Shores.
If you are particularly keen to see fish, book a La Jolla kayak tour with an option to snorkel. Everyday California also offers a whale watching kayak tour during seasonal migrations of the grey whale.
A Trip Inside of Clam’s Cave
If conditions permit, Everyday California guides will help guests paddle inside Clam’s Cave, the only sea cave visible from land.
Its name is derived from the fact that the cave is open on both sides. We were led in and out through the same opening—two kayaks at a time. Very noisy sea lions resting inside the sea cave nearly drowned out the narrative from our guide, but they were hilarious to hear.
The kelp beds outside the sea caves are beautiful (which sounds funny to say about kelp, I realize) so paddling around while waiting our turn proved quite pleasant.
Next, we kayaked along the other sea caves—this is a big deal because they’re not visible from shore—with a few stops in between so that our guides could provide some history about them. I won’t reveal too much because you just have to hear it for yourself.
We paddled back to our launch point but were taught how to catch a wave into shore, which was particularly fun.
Upon returning our kayaks and paddles to staff on the beach, we headed back to the shop to deposit helmets and life jackets before collecting our belongings.
It’s a fantastic way to spend a few hours. You have to try it.
What to Wear While Kayaking
I Googled this because while okay with it, I didn’t want to wear just a bathing suit if no one else was going to. Would I tip over in the kayak? How wet would I get? I’ve only really been kayaking on my own in relatively calm ocean water.
Everyday California provides life jackets and helmets. I suppose you could wear a visor under the helmet, but that might be a step too far. On a whim, I picked up some UPF 50+ water wear by a San Diego company called Graced by Grit (a long-sleeved hoodie and capri pants) because I wanted sun protection and loved the comfortable water capris that dry in a matter of minutes.
You will get a little wet. No, you’re not at all likely to tip over. The waves break too gently at La Jolla Shores beach plus there are staff members to help send you out to sea and receive you after the tour. I think a Lululemon tank with shorts would do, too, if you’re not keen on wearing just a bathing suit.
If headed out on a La Jolla kayak tour in winter months, a wetsuit—which can also be rented at Everyday California—is probably a smart option.
Whatever you do, wear sunscreen even on a cloudy day as the water reflects the sun’s rays.
Good to Know
I thought that the Everyday California guides did an excellent job of keeping the group together as we were a mix of ages and abilities.
The 90-minute tour was broken up with a few stops along the way, so it was possible to rest. Kayaking is fantastic exercise, so my arms were a bit sore the next day but nothing too outrageous.
You will need more than two hours of parking which can be sourced in the nearby residential neighborhood where there are no limitations on street parking. Avenida de la Playa is limited to two hours at the most, and you may not park in private lots. Parking tickets are distributed with frequency in La Jolla so getting one is likely if you’re not careful. During peak season, consider booking a morning tour before the crowds come and parking becomes even more difficult.
You don’t need to know how to swim! The risk of tipping over is low. Plus, you’ll be wearing a life jacket.
Kids ages 6 and over can take this tour. Keep in mind that you might be doing most of the paddling with young kids in the boat. The paddles are large and rowing properly does require some coordination between the two passengers.
See also: Guide to La Jolla Shores
Have you taken a La Jolla kayak tour?
*Thanks to Everyday California for hosting my tour!