La Jolla Caves Ocean Kayak Tour – California

Posted By Katie on Feb 17, 2016

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Hello! You must love nature, beaches, and adventures like I do. One of my favorite places is La Jolla cove in Southern California, so I was excited to try an ocean kayak tour to the La Jolla caves. I went with Bike and Kayak Tours. They offer a half-day bike and kayak package that I wish I’d had time to try out, but I was grateful to at least get some time with them on the water.

If you want to see the La Jolla caves from your best ocean view, here is what you need to know to enjoy your kayak tour.La Jolla Caves ocean kayak tour |

Bring a waterproof camera

I have a Go Pro and love it for all our active adventures, but somehow I forgot to pack it for this trip. I wasn’t about to go ocean kayaking without taking a few photos, so I bought a $10 waterproof bag for my iPhone from Bike and Kayak Tours before we left. You can rent Go Pros ($39) or waterproof cameras ($29) from them, and that might have been a better option. I took plenty of pictures of our kayaking adventure, but because of the bright sun that day, I couldn’t see what I was doing very well on my phone and many of my pictures didn’t turn out. Bring your own Go Pro or waterproof camera or plan to rent one if you want great pictures.

Book in Advance

We didn’t finalize our plans until just hours before we went kayaking, but Bike and Kayak Tours offers an advance booking discount. I was still able to get that discount by calling and scheduling in the morning before our 1:00 tour. You could just show up, but they change the number of tours offered each day based on how many reservations they have, so you will save a few dollars if you book in advance. Most of the time, you will be fine scheduling the day before or day of your outing.

You can also find discounts and Groupon deals by following Bike and Kayak La Jolla on Facebook.La Jolla Caves ocean kayak tour |

Plan to get wet

No experience is necessary for the La Jolla caves ocean kayaking tour, but if you’ve never gone you should know that you get wet when kayaking. We wore bathing suits. I had my Keen sandals on (my favorite shoe for all my outdoor adventures and you can find them here on Amazon), but I opted to leave them behind and go barefoot in the kayak. You can rent a locker at the store before you leave for $2 to leave keys, phones, and other valuables.

These kayaks felt very stable to me, but one set of inexperienced kayakers did tip over and fall in. No harm done and they quickly righted themselves and got back in the kayak. Everyone has helmets and life jackets and we felt perfectly safe.

Bring the kids

I’ve kayaked in plenty of lakes but not much in the ocean. I wondered if it would feel dangerous for kids, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy ocean kayaking was. I would have felt very comfortable bringing my 9-year-old son or my teenage daughters. Our guide instructed us carefully about how to enter and exit the waves to not capsize, and as soon as we were over the cresting waves, it was easy to navigate and I could have done it on my own.

For this trip, I rode in a tandem kayak with my husband. The kayaking was not strenuous, and we stopped several times to rest and listen to our guide.

What to expect on the La Jolla Caves Kayak tour

I love guided tours because I enjoy learning about my surroundings from someone who knows and loves the area. We stopped several times and gathered our kayaks while our guide explained the surroundings, pointed out where Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) lived, and talked about the La Jolla caves and their role smuggling alcohol from Mexico during Prohibition. I’ve been to La Jolla before, but I’ve never seen the La Jolla caves and the view of them from the ocean was beautiful.

When the waves cooperate, there is one cave you can kayak through. The day we went, we watched a few large waves crash into the entrance and our guide decided it wasn’t safe for us to kayak through. Getting smashed up in a kayak didn’t sound like a great idea to me either. Our guide felt bad that we couldn’t go through the cave, so he gave us a free pass to walk through the only land-accessible cave. We didn’t have time to do it on this trip, but the pass doesn’t expire so we can do it when we return to La Jolla another time.La Jolla Caves ocean kayak tour |

A few logistics

Parking near La Jolla beach can be busy. Street parking is your best option but plan to arrive a few minutes early as you may circle a bit before you find parking.

Bike and Kayak tours advised to plan to arrive 30 minutes early. In reality, you only need to be there 15 minutes early but we used the extra time to find a parking space.

The tour is advertised as a 120-minute outing. We spent a few minutes at the store getting outfitted and then some time getting basic kayaking instructions on the shore before we went in. We probably only spent about 60 minutes on the water, and we wrapped up before our two-hour window was over. We had time to grab an ice cream cone at the shop next door.

Don’t forget your sunscreen! You can buy a small tube at the shop if you need to.

I highly recommend the La Jolla caves kayaking tour. After an advance purchase discount, it cost us each about $35 for the tour, which included helmets and lifejackets as well. Bike and Kayak Tours operate year-round, and we loved getting out on the water on a sunny February afternoon. Do something adventurous on your next vacation and try out ocean kayaking!

Next Post —>> Explore Beautiful La Jolla Cove

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Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.


  1. This looks like something my family would love. Active but not too adventurous. We have gone kayaking many times but not in the ocean either so I’m glad to read that you feel this was calm and good for kids.

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  2. That looked great. I think my kids would love something like that.

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  3. I did this a few years ago with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary and loved it!

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