La Jolla Kayak
by: Wesley Somoza
Owner of Visit Southern California
La Jolla Kayak
2199 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
Price for Original Sea Cave Kayak Tour
Single Kayak - $45
Double Kayak - $79
Mount Soledad Bike Plunge Tour
Single Bike - $40
Leopard Shark Snorkel Tour
Single Person with gear - $39
Single Kayak - $29
Double Kayak - $45
La Jolla Kayak also offers rentals on surf boards, snorkel gear, bikes surfboards and SUPs.
You want to add a little adventure to your escape in San Diego. I say journey to La Jolla and check out La Jolla Kayak. We have tried just about every service they offer here at La Jolla Kayak and without a doubt we highly recommend it! La Jolla Kayak is the originators of the kayaking industry in La Jolla about 20 years ago. This company specializes in outstanding customer service, a large inventory of equipment and real tour guides that know the history of the La Jolla Sea Caves and landscape.
Making reservations for any of their services is easy and can be done over the phone or online. Please note their are other outfits in the area that offer many of the same tours as La Jolla Kayak but they are truly just imitators. This is the original spot where this industry began and it is still owned by the same two people who created it 20 years ago. Michael and Sharon Luscomb have grown this business into a great San Diego attraction.
Now back to the La Jolla Kayak tours. The original Sea Cave Tour (which is the most popular of all the tours) is a 2 hour journey in the ocean out to the La Jolla Sea Caves. The tour guide staff outfits you with a PFD (personal flotation device), paddle and kayak. Your kayak and paddle are waiting for you at the boat launch which is a 3 minute walk from the shop. The tour guide for your journey will lead you to the boat launch provide instruction of how to paddle and help push your kayak through the surf to get you past the waves. All of this takes roughly 30 minutes before your paddle to the cave begins.
Keep in mind some imporatnt points to this process. You will get wet. The kayak is wet when you enter it and will be wet when you get out of it. Do not bring valuables onto the kayak that are not water proof. The kayak shop knows this all to well. They have for sale under water cameras and sunglass holders. They even have a standing count of sunglasses lost throughout the year posted when you check in as a reminder that you will lose them if you don't lock them down around your neck. Car keys, cell phones and some watches are not recommneded to bring on board for your journey. They will get soaked or lost if you should turn over in your kayak. The shop has lockers for a small fee to store your belongings in. We suggest you utilize all of this.
Moving on to the next thing you "need to know", the Pacific Ocean is cold. In Hawaii or other tropical climates the ocean water is warm and great to go for a swim and surf. The Pacific Ocean off of the California coast is cold and we mean really cold. In the summer months it can reach temperatures roughly of maybe 70 degrees on a really hot summer day, but most days in the summer it does not get above 65 degrees and in the non-summer months reaching no higher than 55 degrees. With that being said count on your journey to be colder than you would like. La Jolla Kayak does have a limited supply of wetsuits for you to rent. Now I will preface this by saying these are not the greatest wetsuits. As a surfer I can tell you that their wetsuits will keep you warm on the kayak (cause the wind on the water will make you chilly) but you will will be cold and wet should you turn over in your kayak and go under water. So our take on the wetsuits is avoid them unless you think you will just be freezing as you paddle the kayak. Your body will stay warm as this excursion is a workout so your body will naturally heat itself.
The instruction is simple and top notch. However they do tell you this right after check in and it is true… You will get wet! Do not bring valuables with you on the kayak cause they could get lost or even destroyed in the water. La Jolla Kayak does provide lockers for a small fee to all its guests. They also for a fee can provide wetsuits cause it is the pacific ocean and the water is cold. The wetsuit will insulate you a bit and keep your body temperature warm in the water.
The most fun of this journey depends on what kind of adventure seeker you are. If you love landscapes and beauty then the paddle out to the caves provides plenty of scenery to digest. If you like more adventure if the tides are pushing in and the swell is down the tour guides will have you go through the caves which is fun experience. However for me the most of of this journey is the paddle out through the surf and the paddle back into shore where you paddle hard and let the wave pick you up taking you right onto the beach. It is “kayak surfing” and it is a blast!
However this does come with some peril. If you do not maintain some level sense when attempting the “kayak surf” the ocean is strong and it could flip your kayak. Lucky enough you did get a helmet to protect your head and La Jolla Shores Beach is a sandy bottom so the landing is fairly soft. The La Jolla Kayak employees on the beach patrol will meet you when you land back on shore and pull your kayak back onto the beach and you can walk back to the shop to gather your belongings and tip your tour guide.
The first time I took this kayak tour I was not too sure what to expect much more then a good physical workout (which it is). As soon as I hit the water and began paddling a sense of adrenaline kicked in and I was hooked. Their is no better feeling then being on the open ocean paddling around and getting a chance to view things from the water. The towering cliffs of La Jolla and the homes supported by the cliffs are amazing to see. The caves are a blast and the seals and under water marine life that surrounds them give the journey a sense of excitement. This kayak tour is now one of my favorite things to do in Southern California. The tour guides are funny and knowledgeable about the area and worthy of a tip when the adventure is complete. If someone were to ask if I recommend this trip to anyone my simple answer is YES! However please note that if you are out of shape, pregnant or suffer from a heart condition you may want to consult your doctor before paddling out. It is strenuous and once out on the water you are out on the water with no quick way back to shore. Keep that in mind.
So cons to the kayak trip in La Jolla deal with doing a tour or just a rental. If you rent a kayak to yopurself you can go at your own pace. La Jolla Kayak does offer kayak rentals however they come with restrictions. You can not enter the caves on a kayak rental. Lifeguards will enforce this as will other outlets in the area. You are required to have a tour guide before enterting the caves. The rental of the kayak will let you tour the ocean at your own pace and you can journey off the path and kayak closer to shore and search for under water life. Rentals do not come with paddle instruction and the shop will usually not let you rent a kayak unless you sign a waivor stating you are experienced and can handle yourself on the water. Think twice about this cause if you are saving money here by renting yet you are untrained as to paddling a kayak you will find yourself stuck in the ocean begging another tour guide to anchor you into shore and that is not what you want out of this.
If taking the guided tour the tour guides are a lot of fun. If you get a more experineced tour guide then your journey will be amazing and memorable. If you get a new hire, expect yourself to have a great time and see amazing scenery, but you will be lacking the great stories and personality behind much of what you are looking at. The tour may give you the ability to go into and paddle through the caves, however if the tide is high or ocean is rough it is the tour guides call wether or not you enter the caves. They usually always air on the side of caution so hope for a flat day on the water. Tours do go at a faster pace and if you fall behind you will miss out on some of the unique stories. It is also confusing on the water to a novice. You have tours going out and tours coming in so you can easily get away from your group if you can't keep up. All the tour guides are trained and CPR certified and they do a good job of patrolling the shore as groups come in and go out.
All in all this is a great time and you can't beat the scenery. While the ocean can go from calm to wild in 24 hours La Jolla Shores wher ethe boat launch is located on most days stays relatively quiet and it is easy to paddle along. Be emart on the water and air on the side of safety everythime. After your journey is complete the staff from teh shop will load up and drag your kayak back onto the beach. This is less strenuous on the customer whereas in years past the cutsomer did the heavy lifting back to shore which can be difficult after yoru 1.5 hour journey. Do not miss out on this fun adventure!
I will have other reviews posting about the Leopard Shark Snorkel Tour and Mount Soledad Bike Plunge. The cost of the tours is manageable however if you want to save yourself some money on them join as a Benefits Member on Visit Southern California for either $6 per month or $45 per year and you will be sent FREE vouchers on this tour and other offerings from La Jolla Kayak. Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience if you have used La Jolla Kayak before.