This is the very distinct silhouette of Sunny Jim; the only sea cave accessible through a store front in La Jolla. Quite an interesting mini adventure, with some history behind it.
Parking is limited, so we parked a few blocks down and walked toward the store. That I didn’t mind at all, as we had quite the view and it was beautiful. We saw people admiring sea lions and birds, and a beautiful beach was right below us. So I promised the kids we’d go to the beach later after the sea cave.
As we got closer to The Cave Store (website here), we noticed this sea cave. I don’t know if this is the other side of the Sunny Jim cave, as I know there are 7 sea caves in the area, but it doesn’t look like the Sunny Jim silhouette.
Inside the cozy store, we learned a bit about the sea cave and how the tunnel was man made more than 100 years ago. The store also sells jewelry, shells, souvenirs, but on the right side and down the stairs is the entrance to the tunnel. We paid the fee ($5 adults, $3 kids) and entered…
It was 145 dark and mysterious steep steps down. I was really excited just to experience this in person. It wasn’t a lengthy hike and definitely wasn’t strenuous, but it was fun! The tunnel was lighted and I held onto the railing at times because some areas were damp (I kept wondering where there was a leak), and other areas were slightly uneven. Also, the steep continuous steps down reminded me of the steps at the Thousand Steps Beach (I wrote about that here). I was leading the pack so just in case one of my kids came tumbling down, I was ready to catch them! Luckily my kids did just fine and they were extremely careful. 🙂
We finally got to the end of the stairs and walked across a damp plank to the opening of the sea cave. And there it was…the perfect silhouette of Sunny Jim. I always like looking at the distinctive features of every sea cave and this one I’ll never forget! We stayed at the edge for awhile, enjoying the crashing of waves, and observing some small crabs that were crawling on the rocks below us.
As we exited the store, we made a sharp right where we saw people enjoying the views on top of this cliff earlier. So I proceeded with caution and stayed away from the edges. In the first photo below, that’s me…you can hardly tell who’s who from far away. But from this angle, one can see we were right above a sea cave and I wished I could take a kayak and go exploring in this area.
Below were my views from atop that cliff. Near the edges, the cliff was uneven, so I didn’t venture that far, although other people did. But the ocean was gorgeous, and the seagulls were plentiful so I admired the crashing of waves and the beautiful blue ocean from where I was…it felt like I was on an island, with the ocean surrounding me.
After that, we walked towards the La Jolla Cove (map here). There were tons of sea lions, leisurely sunbathing. I was so surprised how close they allowed people to get to them! Most of them were napping and would only bark if they were awoken, and that was usually because one of the other sea lions was moving around too close to them. I got maybe 6-8 feet away for the photo, but other people were maybe only a few feet in front of them. One man ventured onto the rocks to be right next to the sea lions, and then got completely drenched when a big wave splashed on him! Just as long as no one disturbed them, these sea lions continued napping. There were a couple of juvenile sea lions practicing their fighting skills from time to time (last photo in collage below…the sea lion just finished barking at a ‘challenger’), but otherwise, these sea lions were so very calm. It was a great experience for my kids to watch these sea lions in their natural habitat, and they kept a distance…just in case. 🙂
After that, we went downstairs to explore a little cave near the base of the stairs. The kids had so much fun here! Just a few feet away, there were tons of huge rocks and we saw sea anemones, barnacles, and seaweed trapped in between.
People went across to the other side through this little tunnel…it was wet and slippery so beware!
The little tunnel to the right of it was a dead end, but still fun to go in and explore.
It was getting late and our time was up for parking, so we walked back to our car. Along the way, we passed by this restaurant. I was hungry and I wanted to grab a little snack but unfortunately they were closed. 😦 So I admired the lovely succulent decor outside. Look how clever they were with these frames; I have a couple of small ones at home, but not this big…this is quite inspiring! 🙂
Since this was the last adventure of our day, we were tired and headed on home. We went to Carlsbad Flower Fields in the morning (see post here), did the Torrey Pines Hike (see post here), then came over to La Jolla for this Cave and Beach. We were supposed to go to the Cabrillo National Monument but had too much fun at the beach so we never made it. Sounds like we’ll be coming back soon for another adventure!
Thanks for reading! 🙂