Best Snorkeling in San Diego

by CaliCase Team on March 27, 2023

San Diego View on the Ocean

Get ready to explore the underwater wonders of San Diego! From the stunning La Jolla Cove to the family-friendly Mission Bay and everything in between, this city is home to some of the best snorkeling spots in the world. Join us as we dive into the crystal-clear waters of La Jolla Shores, discover the diverse marine life at La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve, and explore the rocky reefs of Coronado Beach. Whether you're a seasoned snorkeler or a first-time adventurer, San Diego has something for everyone! We've made a full article about snorkeling at La Jolla Cove, and if you're looking for another spot to snorkel in California check out our Snorkeling on Catalina Island article.


Snorkeling at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is an absolute gem when it comes to snorkeling. The clear and calm waters and abundant marine life make it a popular spot for snorkelers particularly for beginners.

One of the reasons why La Jolla Cove is so great for snorkeling is the incredible visibility. The water here is often crystal clear, allowing you to see all the way to the ocean floor. This makes it easy to spot a variety of marine life, from schools of colorful fish to rays gliding gracefully along the ocean floor.

Another reason why La Jolla Cove is so special is the incredible variety of marine life that you can see here. The cove is home to a huge range of underwater creatures, including sea turtles, leopard sharks, and even the occasional sea lion. It's not uncommon to spot bright orange Garibaldi fish darting in and out of the kelp forests, or to see a curious octopus peeking out from a crevice in the rocks.

The underwater topography of La Jolla Cove is also fascinating. The cove is surrounded by towering cliffs and rocky outcroppings, which provide a variety of habitats for marine life to thrive in. As you snorkel, you'll encounter a variety of different underwater landscapes, from sandy flats to rocky reefs and kelp forests.

One thing to note about La Jolla Cove is that it can be a bit crowded at times, especially during peak season. However, with so much to see and explore underwater, it's easy to get lost in your own little world and forget about the crowds above.


Snorkeling at La Jolla Shores 

La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shores is another incredible spot for snorkeling, and there are plenty of reasons why it's worth checking out.

One of the things that makes La Jolla Shores so interesting is the wide variety of marine life that you can see here. The water is calm and clear, which makes it easy to spot a variety of creatures, from colorful fish to rays and even the occasional sea turtle. You might even spot a harmless leopard shark, which are common in the area and often seen resting on the sandy ocean floor.

The water conditions at La Jolla Shores are generally quite calm, with little to no surf. This makes it a great spot for snorkeling, especially for beginners or those who might be a bit nervous about snorkeling in more turbulent waters. The water temperature in La Jolla can vary throughout the year, but it generally ranges from around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be a bit chilly, so a wetsuit is recommended.

The best season for snorkeling at La Jolla Shores is typically during the summer months, when the water is at its warmest and the visibility is typically best. However, snorkeling can be enjoyed year-round here, with the winter months often offering the best visibility. It's worth noting that the water can be a bit murkier during the winter, but there's still plenty to see and explore underwater.

The topography at La Jolla Shores is also fascinating, with a variety of underwater landscapes to explore. There are sandy flats where you might see stingrays gliding along the ocean floor, as well as rocky reefs and kelp forests where you can spot a variety of colorful fish and other marine life. The kelp forests in particular are worth exploring, as they are home to a variety of creatures, including sea urchins, starfish, and crabs.


Snorkeling at Mission Bay

Mission Bay San Diego

Mission Bay is the ultimate destination for families and amateurs who want to explore the underwater world!

One of the things that makes Mission Bay such an excellent spot for snorkeling is the calm water conditions. It's a great place for beginners or those who might be a bit nervous about snorkeling. With shallow water in many areas, there's plenty of space for kids and families to safely explore the bay without feeling overwhelmed.

The marine life at Mission Bay is equally incredible, providing a chance for you to see a variety of creatures up close. From colorful fish to graceful stingrays and even the occasional jellyfish, you never know what you might encounter during your snorkeling adventure. Depending on the season and time of day, you might even catch a glimpse of some of the more elusive marine creatures.

What's more, Mission Bay offers several locations within the bay that are perfect for snorkeling, so you can choose the spot that best suits your family's needs. From hidden coves to open waters, there's something for everyone at Mission Bay.

The underwater landscape at Mission Bay is also a treat to explore. You'll come across sandy flats and rocky reefs, as well as several artificial reefs that have been created to provide a habitat for marine life. So, be prepared to discover a new world of underwater beauty!

After you're done snorkeling, Mission Bay offers plenty of other family-friendly activities to enjoy. Take a stroll along the beach, have a picnic, or rent a paddleboard or kayak to explore the bay from a different perspective. With so much to do, it's no wonder that Mission Bay is a top choice for family snorkeling adventures.


Snorkeling at Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach San Diego

The water at Coronado Beach is often crystal clear, which means that you can see a wide variety of marine life without having to dive too deep. This makes it an ideal spot for snorkeling beginners or those who might not be comfortable diving too far below the surface.

Another great thing about Coronado Beach is the variety of marine life that you can encounter. From brightly-colored fish to crabs and other sea creatures, there's always something new to discover. Keep an eye out for leopard sharks, which are often spotted in the area during the summer months.

When it comes to topography, Coronado Beach is home to several interesting underwater landscapes, including rocky reefs and sandy flats. The rocky reefs are especially worth exploring, as they provide a habitat for a wide variety of marine life.

If you're planning a snorkeling adventure at Coronado Beach, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, be sure to check the weather conditions and ocean swells before you head out. Snorkeling during rough ocean conditions can be dangerous, so it's best to avoid snorkeling during these times.

Another important tip is to wear the right gear. Make sure you have a snorkel mask that fits properly and a snorkel that's comfortable to use. You may also want to wear fins to help you swim more efficiently and to avoid tiring yourself out too quickly.

Lastly, it's important to be mindful of the marine life and the environment when snorkeling at Coronado Beach. Be sure to avoid touching or disturbing any creatures you encounter and follow responsible snorkeling practices to help protect the marine environment.



In conclusion, San Diego is a snorkeler's paradise, with a wealth of amazing locations to explore. From the diverse marine life and stunning underwater topography of La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores to the family-friendly atmosphere of Mission Bay and the crystal-clear waters of Coronado Beach, each spot offers a unique and memorable snorkeling experience. For those looking for a more protected environment to explore, the La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve is a must-visit destination. With calm waters, ideal weather conditions, and an abundance of marine life, San Diego is truly a snorkeler's dream come true. So grab your gear and get ready to immerse yourself in the underwater beauty of these stunning locations!