The Best Thing About San Diego

Part two of four in our “I Love My ASBS” blog series highlighting why we love San Diego’s Areas of Biological Significance.

Each Spring, I wait impatiently for Daylight Saving Time. Like many others, I’m anxious to “spring ahead” to take advantage of the longer days. But the thing I most look forward to after the time change is swimming in La Jolla Cove. Every Friday evening during the summer, dozens of triathletes gather at La Jolla Cove to enjoy one of the most breathtaking swims in the country.

As I walk down the stairs to the beach at the Cove, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the place’s beauty. Kids and parents playing in the surf, sea lions and cormorants perched on the cliffs above the water, the Cove is unlike any other place I’ve been.

Jill MPA la jolla covePlunging into the refreshing water, the first thing I always spot is a Garibaldi or two swimming by. The bright orange color of this California state marine fish makes them easy to spot even on days when visibility isn’t great. These fish are only found from Baja California to Monterey Bay—nowhere else in the world—and it’s illegal in California to collect them or keep them without a permit. Another notable feature in the Cove is the swaying sea grass. Stare at it too long and it will make you seasick!

Swimming from the entrance to the Cove out to the ¼ mile or ½ mile buoy is always an adventure. Friday night swims are so popular that it’s important to keep an eye out for other swimmers to avoid collisions. Once out in the open water, I keep my eyes peeled to try and avoid swimming through kelp beds. The kelp forests of La Jolla Cove provide a habitat to many species and are beautiful to behold. Of course, swimming straight through a patch of kelp is a strange and slimy experience. On a clear day, it’s not unusual to see a school of fish swimming deep below.

Once out at the buoy, I always pause to enjoy the beauty of La Jolla Cove and the Shores. I’m grateful the area is a marine protected area and an Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). As an ASBS, there are strict rules protecting water quality here— making La Jolla Cove and Shores possibly the best place in San Diego to go for a swim.

A few weeks ago, I brought a friend from Austin, Texas out to a Friday Cove swim with me. She summed up the experience by saying, “Best happy hour ever.” My thoughts exactly.

Published in Marine Conservation

Latest from San Diego Coastkeeper

3 Responses for The Best Thing About San Diego

  1. Matt Hix says:

    I totally agree!! My buddies and I swim at the cove every Sunday at 9am sharp. Nothing beats a morning swim to get you started for an otherwise lazy Sunday!

  2. Bill Powers says:

    An excellent place to swim or scuba dive… but I’m not sure I’d make any assertions about water quality. Between the bird guano dripping off the cliffs to the ever-increasing numbers of harbor seals and sea lions, well you see what I’m getting at.

  3. Jill Witkowski, Waterkeeper says:

    Bill Powers–The state standards for Areas of Special Biological Significance prohibit man-made pollution, except in limited circumstances. As far as the impacts birds or sea lions may have, they have not lead to a water quality problem, and the Cove is still a great place to swim. If you’re concerned, please check the Swim Guide app to see if it’s safe to swim!