The Seven Sea Caves of La Jolla are a remarkable creation and some of the best in Southern California. The seven sea caves in La Jolla are perched within a million year old sandstone sea, and as the North facing cliffs eroded we were left with this natural wonder. This type of cave system is called a Littoral Cave. These 7 unique sea caves that are filled with lots of local history. The most common way to access all seven caves is by snorkeling or kayaking.
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 early 1900’s. To allow easier access to the cave, he hired 2 workers to carve out 138 steps through his living room floor to the back side of the cave, which took the men almost two years. The cave was completed in 1903 and became one of La Jolla’s largest tourist attractions. Around 200 visitors a day would pay 50 cents to enter. After Gustov passed away the mafia used Sunny Jim’s cave to funnel whiskey to San Diego during prohibition.
Arches is 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 Marine Protected Area, but you can still find many traps outside the area during lobster season. The Shopping Cart Cave being the only true west facing cave, it’s the best place 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!
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.
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.
This cave looks small and unassuming from the outside, but is said to open up into 80 feet of walking passages once inside. According to those who have ventured in, Sea Surprize has orange walls (due to rock deposits) and a pool of water deep inside the cave containing calcite-coated sea anemones.