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The Children's Pool in La Jolla
Close to downtown La Jolla, the Children’s Pool — or the “Casa,” as locals have called it — is a tiny cove protected by a concrete breakwater. It was once a swimming area for children until the seals and sea lions moved in. Now visitors can enjoy the added bonus of an ongoing marine mammal show courtesy of the seals and sea lions that play in and around the shore or at Seal Rock, their offshore reserve.
Walkers and hikers can check out the trails next to Coast Boulevard. High above the beach, these paths offer panoramic views of the water and the sandstone cliffs leading down to ocean's edge. Grassy picnic areas lie north and south of Children's Pool. Mix with the well-to-do at La Jolla's high-end hotels, shops, and restaurants, or spend the day near the Pacific Ocean watching the seals and sea lions as they cavort at the Children's Pool — either way, a day well spent!
Although swimming is now discouraged at the beach, the Children's Pool is still a beautiful spot to enjoy viewing wild marine mammals up close and personal. Diving and snorkeling are legally allowed but not encouraged since the seals and sea lions are protected from harassment by federal law. Also, there are safety issues concerning water quality due to the overwhelming presence of seals.
We strongly recommend visitors avoid entering the water at La Jolla Children's Pool (Casa Beach). La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores offer much better opportunities for enjoying the water without the safety and political concerns.
The seals inhabit the beach year-round. Visitors can walk out onto the breakwater for close-up views of the Pacific Ocean and the seals or to observe the tide pools that teem with interesting sea creatures.
Note that this beach has no wheelchair access because of the steep staircase leading down to the ocean. There are no parking lots near the beach and street parking (metered during the week) fills up quickly on summer weekends. It's best to arrive early, park downtown in one of the paid lots, or stroll to the beach from the hotel. Downtown is a short distance to the beach.
Getting There - From the north, take I-5 to La Jolla Village Drive west. Turn left on Torrey Pines Road. Turn right at Prospect Street, bearing right on Coast Boulevard. From the south, take I-5 north to Ardath Road and stay on this road until it turns into Torrey Pines Road. Take Torrey Pines Road to Prospect Street and turn right. Veer right on Coast Boulevard.
At low tide, tide pools emerge on the west side of the sea wall. The pools teem with sea life and several are suitable for wading and swimming.
La Jolla Seal Controversy -- There is an on-going controversy at La Jolla Children's Pool involving the presence of California Harbor Seals. Please note that to local San Diegan's this is a very emotional issue. The vast majority of locals and visitors would prefer the Children's Pool be reserved for the use of the seals. However, there is a small but vocal and sometimes intimidating group of divers and other ocean users that believe the Children's Pool should be for humans only--even if that means the loss of a small but important seal habitat. As noted above, we strongly recommend that visitors find another beach to enter the water--both for their personal safety and the safety of the seal population that uses the beach for resting and giving birth to their young.